“Buy the pants.” he said.
I stopped cold. The voice had come from inside my head. No one was around me.
“Buy the pants.” he said again.
I looked over at the mannequin. She was too thin, too tall, her body contorted into a perfect fashion angle and she was wearing pants. Purple pants. And a blouse that I can’t even remember in the slightest. So I am left describing it as a blouse. My eyes were staring at the purple pants.
Shopping has always been no fun for me. But there I was wandering around a department store trying to find something to wear to my first photography exhibition reception. Not too casual, not too nice, try to look artsy (an impossibility for me I always tell myself) and not too uncomfortable. So many “nots.”
I had given up when I heard “Buy the pants.” And I knew it was David. I knew it was David telling me quietly yet firmly to “buy the pants.“
Several years earlier…
“Didn’t you wear those pants yesterday?” she asked. A small crowd of high schoolers were hanging out and as teenagers tend to do, she blurted out her question for all to hear.
“Yes…” defensive and immediately wary, David answered.
“I like them.” he continued on.
His pants were a lovely shade of purple. Kinda pinkish cast and bright but not too bright. Most would just call them purple.
I watched the questioning from a distance. I was a few feet away setting up my keyboard. Fiddling with my music. Getting ready to start music rehearsal. Trying to keep my emotional distance too.
I knew why he was wearing those purple pants or I thought I knew why. David struggled financially. David struggled emotionally. David struggled. I don’t think he had a lot of clothes. I could be wrong. But I do know he wore a lot of the same items of clothing often. And his purple pants showed up at rehearsal many times a week.
I don’t think he “liked” them. I think he loved them.
A few years after high school, David called me and asked me to meet him. He was moving to the Big City from our small Arkansas town and he was excited to tell me all about it. Never a planner, I could see multiple flaws in his plan. I gave him tips, advice and wished him well.
I loved him and worried about him. But I was afraid of him too. I was afraid of the abyss of his sensitivity and emotional need. I wanted to help — help him become more whole. But I honestly didn’t know how. So I told him to call me if you ever needed anything and then walked away. And then I began looking away.
When David posted this on Facebook as his cover photo, I looked away.
When David posted quotes like this on his Facebook page, I looked away.
And then one day, I couldn’t look away. My Facebook feed told me the news many, many times in one day. David was gone. He wanted the pain to stop and he found a heartbreaking solution. He took his own life.
I went to the rack and grabbed my size. My inner dialogue was ridiculous even to me.
“I don’t wear purple pants.” I tried to explain to David.
“Why not! They’ll look great on you.” he replied
“They probably won’t even fit! They look kinda tight.” I argued.
“Just try them on.” he insisted.
So I did. And they fit. And I immediately loved them.
“Okay, okay. I love them. I’ll buy the pants. BUT, you have to help me find a top because I don’t have anything to go with them.” I actually said out loud to my dressing room mirror.
By then, David in my head had fallen quiet. Satisfied that he had accomplished his mission.
I think he showed up that day to help me forgive myself. I think he wanted me to let go of the pain I had been carrying around. The pain of looking away.
One more thing before you go —
I’ve decided to stop looking away. I hope you will too. If we do this together, this Seeing of Others that we all so desepartely need, I know David will be cheering us on and helping us have the words and wisdom to not look away. I’d bet my purple pants on it.
Interested in more of my stories? Go here to read one of my favorite blog posts. Curious about the post that started it all? You can find it here. Want to read them all? Start at the top right here and work your way down.