By Mikaleh Offerman, Copy Editor
I lose things a lot. Pants, money, water bottles, scissors…you name it, I’ve lost it. Maybe “lose” isn’t the right word. It’s more like, I hide things and then forget where they are. For instance, a couple years ago, I took my favorite pants with me to an all-state for band competition.
They were a perfect pair of high-end skinny jeans that I’d purchased for four dollars and ninety-nine cents at a thrift store. Easily, they could have been re-sold for 50 dollars. Goodwill, not understanding the glory that had been donated to them, stuck a blue tag on the pocket and shoved them on the rack.
Thrift shopping is a hobby of mine. Why on earth would I spend 20 dollars for a cardigan at Kohl’s when I can waltz on down to Goodwill and find the exact cardigan, mildly broken in, for 5 dollars?
“But it smells funny,” you say, crinkling your nose.
“Wash it,” I tell you.
“That never works,” you inform me. “Goodwill clothes never stop smelling.”
“Baking soda,” I say proudly. “Wash it with baking soda.”
Where there is a will—a ‘Goodwill’ that is—there is a way.
Needless to say, Goodwill is my treasure box and my skinny jeans were the treasure. Without fail, the high school all-state band competition was a gold mine of attractive musically talented people. So, of course I wanted to look my best. I wore those pants all three days. They endured eight hour rehearsals, accidental dribbles of spit from said rehearsals, a soy sauce stain and dollop of cream cheese. By the last day, they smelled terrible but I was determined to keep wearing them. Just before our last rehearsal, I squatted down to open my instrument case.
“RIP.” This was both a literal and a metaphorical sound.
My thighs now felt the overly air conditioned temperatures that are common in large rooms just before hundreds of people swarm them. I knew what had happened but I was in denial. Nana can fix it, I chanted as I timidly glanced down to examine the damage. A six inch tear along the seam, from crotch to mid-thigh, smiled up at me. The worn denim of beloved jeans was now marred by a jagged, impossible to hide rip.
Thankfully, I was wearing a cardigan, so I tied it around my waist and sprinted back to my room. Reverently, I wrapped my pants in a trash bag at the very bottom of my suitcase. All the while, I convinced myself that Nana, the champion seamstress of our family, could save them. When I got home and showed them to my mom, she informed that there was no fixing the tear and that I should throw them away.
Rest in peace, ripped jeans.
It’s not every day you find your soul mate in denim. So, I gave the jeans a proper burial. By that I mean that I wedged them behind a couple boxes in the very back of my closet so my mom wouldn’t throw them away. Later, I forgot that I’d hidden them. For the longest time, I thought that I’d lost them.
I scavenged for those pants like a vulture missing a meal. I went undercover, interrogated every member of my family and even called to see if I’d left them at the Hyatt Hotel in Tulsa, where the all-state performance was. Every few months, I would remember the jeans and go through the process all over again. I work myself into a frenzy trying to find them. RIP, jeans, I decided eventually. RIP. Fast forward to last summer.
After moving back from freshmen year of college, I was a changed woman. It was time to clean out the past, aka my childhood, and organize my room. Over the course of three weeks I went through every inch of my stuff, which was no small feat considering there were boxes that hadn’t been opened since the time I threatened to run away. (I followed through on this threat by boxing up random items.)
My closet held over a decade’s worth of schoolwork, stuffed animals, seashells and purses. Lots and lots of purses. It took several weeks and half a dozen trash bags, but I organized every inch of my room. This included the deep depths of my closet. What did I find, to my utter delight, balled up between a tub of stuffed animals and a piled of purses?
The burial site of the RIP jeans.
Triumphantly, I galloped downstairs and slapped the jeans on the counter. “Look what I found, Nana,” I said, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
“Oh, how nice, dear,” Nana said, poking at the tear (which I had forgotten about) in the jeans. “Are you applying to be a hooker, or can I through these away?”
RIP to my jeans. RIP to my triumph.
I spent the rest of the day in mourning.
Matthew 6:21 says (paraphrased), your heart will be where your treasure is. It’s safe to say that I treasured those pants way too much. I wasted nearly four years of off and on searching and agonizing over the where-a-bouts of a pair of pants. There are so many other things I ought to treasure more than a few strips of denim and a metal zipper. Chiefly, people.
For the past two years, I’ve lived in Shawnee, Okla. and only a handful of times have I even pondered the people outside of OBU’s campus, let alone agonized over or sought after them. In 2014, just five years ago, thinkprogress.org published an article titled, “Welcome To Shawnee, Oklahoma: The Worst City In America To Be Homeless.”
If that’s not a slap in the face then I don’t know what is.
“22.9 percent of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Shawnee, OK (29,135 people) live below the poverty line. This is higher than the national average of 14.7 percent,” according to Data USA.
That’s six thousand six hundred and seventy two people who are may or may not eat three square meals a day. Six thousand six hundred and seventy two people who may not have a roof over their head. Six thousand six hundred and seventy two people who likely haven’t received much from OBU students besides a little bit of yard clean up during Serve Shawnee and One Body United.
By no means am I bashing Serve Shawnee or One Body United. Those are amazing and good things. I’m simply pointing out the irony of two Christian schools, OBU and St. Gregory’s, which are right smack dab in the middle of one of the largest poverty stricken towns in Oklahoma.
Here’s the thing: this situation can go one of two ways. The irony can continue, and with it, poverty.
Or, we can utilize the situation we’re in and do something.
The fact is, we can’t go out and raise all six thousand six hundred and seventy two salaries. We just can’t. But, we can go out and make relationships. We can love the people of Shawnee. We can serve them more than just two times a year. We can get involved in organizations like Community Renewal and Mission Shawnee. We can treasure people more than we treasure our RIP jeans. Jesus was right when He said that it takes individual sacrifice to serve people. It’s time to retire our RIP jean mentality and replace it with a desire to serve the city of Shawnee, Okla.