There was a time, that went on longer than I care to admit, where I only purchased my jeans at Forever 21. For $8.50 you could slide your legs into any color of skinny pants you liked. Sure, the blue rubbed off on your purse or (occasionally) hands. And, yes, you did need to replace them every semester. However, for less than a crisp ten dollar bill you could be going out to dinner with friends feeling like a million bucks.
Until the magic (and the color) faded, those pants were spectacular. The problem with fake denim is that it stretches horribly, gets a little twisted in the wash, and wears thin in unfortunate places. The seam directly up the rear seems to be the first place to become, how shall we put this, transparent.
A little transparency never hurt anyone though, so I would toss out the old and run to grab a new pair. Were there red flags? Sure. But the jeans felt and fit right so I kept going back.
Can I make a bold statement? I think some friendships are like fake denim. They seem to be the best thing on the market, easy and an incredible price. They fit for every occasion, accept the long haul. A tough moment here, a faded seem there, but we keep reaching for them time and time again They are good friends, fun friends, friends that seems like the most logical and best match. The relationship flows and is off to a quick start. It's incredible, just like a pair of 8.50 jeans.
Until you find your first pair of real denim. For me, the first pair of true, good quality, denim I purchased was last year. I had looked for months and finally found a pair at J.Crew that fit beautifully, were a cut that I loved, and were worth the wait. I wore them for days in a row. They never stretched out. When I gained weight, they didn't have elastic and spandex in the material to squeeze over new widths. Instead, they waited with their structure, making me a bit uncomfortable but spurring me on to health. For a year I have worn this pair of jeans almost daily. There isn't a sign of fading, tearing, or, thank goodness, crack transparency.
Maybe deep friends are like real denim. Challenging to find the right fit. Not what you expected. There for the long haul. They take time and trust to develop but if you treat them right they will last a lifetime.
And it's easy to get confused. To start treating our 8.50 denim like it's the real thing then be disappointed when it fades. It's easy to mix them up at first, when they are both new and on the hanger. But time makes the difference and soon you see what is worth putting on, and what maybe is ready to be put away.
There are still times when the occasion calls for a pair of Forever 21 jeans. A last minute date night, a new outfit for an upcoming trip, a dancing date with the girls. These low-commitment, high-reward jeans still fit in my life. But when push comes to shove, when I'm going to be speaking in front of a group of people, running errands, or looking for comfort, I reach for my sturdy and reliable denim. Maybe that's ok. Maybe it's ok to have the friends who make you laugh, who are the best fit for a spontaneous movie or visiting a great new restaurant. And maybe it's ok if those people aren't the same ones you call in the middle of the night when you are heading to the emergency room or when your business is failing or when marriage feels impossible. You don't have to trade one for the other as long as you remember they aren't interchangeable. Know the difference and keep them both close to your heart and in your closet.
Over the past year, I've gotten some blue rubbed on my purses and hands. I've invested in some great quality pairs of denim. I've seen some friendships become a little thin at the seams and I've had some friendships offer me structure and longevity. I'm learning to tell the difference, how to wear them both, and how, ultimately, to pursue the higher quality, go the distance, type of friendships and pants.
But I don't think I'll ever get over a pair of $8.50 fake denim. It's a steal still worth grabbing.