I Enjoyed Taking People’s Things; and Having Mine Taken

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I really hate wearing clothes. So I wear as little as possible, until I really need to – like when I must leave the house. The other night while looking for something comfortable to make a store-run, I came across a black yoga pants I took from my cousin Shoija. Returning from Europe this summer I had a layover in Atlanta and stayed with her. Rather than unpack all of my stuff looking for something to wear, most of which needed to wash, I asked her loan me something comfortable for the night. (FYI, I had lots of clean underwear. I usually overpack those.) She brought me a whole stack of clothes. I chose a yoga pants and t-shirt. Remember now, I hate clothes. And I hate long pants. But after a transatlantic flight wearing jeans, that yoga pants felt good! So good that I told Shoija I’m keeping it. She gave me a look as if to say, “aren’t you going to ask first.” But I didn’t.
So I chuckled to myself the other night, at the memory. Not so long ago, when we were children, we took each other’s stuff all the time. I remember cousins taking my clothes, shoes, hair accessories…. I took things from them too. And it was never a problem. Actually, if I had something that one of my family members liked more than I did, I would usually give it to them before they had a chance to take it. And vice versa. That was the norm for us cousins who were around the same age. Some things were off limits though, like gifts and expensive jewelry. Heaven forbid I took something that one of my cousins’ boyfriends gave them.
We saw this among our parents. My mother and her sisters always took each other’s stuff – and it was never a problem. The adults also always gave us something to take whenever we visited – be it food, groceries, a new bra, a head-tie, money. My Aunt Keturah once gave me an engagement ring that she had found! Once we left with their homes with something, they felt good.
One time in high school I tried to explain to a good friend why I didn’t have a particular accessory. A cousin had “gone with it,” I told her. She couldn’t understand how someone could “go with” something that was mine without asking, even after I explained that my family did that all the time.
I think that it was outside influences over a period of time that caused things to change. As we became older, we became more possessive. We started saying things to each other like, “if you want something, next time ask.” Soon it seemed like we started valuing things more than each other. Like we preferred to have something safely tucked away in our closets, never to be used, while someone else needed it. We allowed the ways of the world to be the ways of our lives.
Things are just that – things. The only value they have, is the value we give them. The Bible says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6, 21) Where is your treasure? Is it among the earthly things that we know will soon rot or fade away? Are we so caught up in what society tells us is valuable, that we prefer to store them up rather than put them to good use or give them to someone who can put them to good use?
That night in Atlanta with Shoija reminded me of how we were as children, when things mattered less and people mattered more. Matter of fact, she stared offering me more clothes to take – all the while trying to convince me to change my morning flight so that I could spend an extra day with her and the family.
I’ll probably hardly ever wear that yoga pants. But the memory of how I took it from my cousin, like we did when we were children, will always bring g a smile to my face.

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