When I Woke by Nicole Robertson

When I Woke

landfillIt’s morning now and the pungent smell of rotting garbage makes me want to vomit. Where am I? And how did I get here?!? All I know is it smells awful. I’m dirty and surrounded by rubbish. I can see putrid fruit, torn homeless plastic bags and containers, ripped newspapers, broken old furniture and moldy shredded fabrics for miles all around. A nasty half-eaten cheeseburger buzzes with flies nearby. I can’t move—I am so soggy and muddy from the rain the night before. In the distance, I hear a bulldozer moving piles around. And a crew of gulls swirls around and spends the hours picking through for desirable bits.

jeansHow could this have happened to me? I was promised a life of luxury. When I came off the looms in the legendary Kaihara mills in Japan, “Premium Denim!” they said, they “ooo’d” and “ahhh’d” and nodded appreciatively as they felt my smooth, soft velvety weave and admired my tightly woven and uniform indigo threads. I was deemed highest quality and sent off to America. 

clothes hangerMy favorite memory from the factory in the city of Angels is one I would recall frequently: excitement flutters through me as they throw me up in the air to land on the cutting table where I am smoothed out meticulously. The die-cut machine cuts hundreds like me with precision. I wait with anticipation for the golden threads that will stitch me up and complete me. Mmm…Then I would be sold in a high-end retail shop for hundreds of hard-earned American dollars. My owner would jump and squeal with joy at the perfect fit and take me home to be worn almost every day. Then less and less, until it seemed like she had forgotten all about me. Then, it seemed like months of hearing faint sounds like the doorbell, the pizza delivery man and a crying baby maybe—all from the back of the closet.

garment workerIt gave me time to remember the sweet elderly man who drove the cotton-picking tractor in Texas every day, the ladies who ran the new-fangled gin carefully picking out seeds, and the young men who stacked cotton higher than their heads to bale up and ship out on container across the globe to be made into thread. I waxed nostalgic about those days as I sat in the dark recalling their hard-working faces, while waiting for her to take me to town.

landfillAnd, finally, one day she came looking for me! I was thrilled and wondering if I would be receiving a fringed-hem update or maybe a distressed-look shorts-chopping. She swooped up several holey t-shirts and me, and before I knew it we were in a trash bag! There must have been some sort of mistake, but just as quickly as she packed us up, along with some broken sandals and an outdated purse, we went flying down the rubbish chute. That must have been when I passed out because it is all I remember now.

jeansWhile I had been relishing these lovely memories of my life, the roar of the bulldozer had come closer. Suddenly, I heard the engine stop almost over my head and just when I thought it was all over for me I saw the face of my hero. He lifted me gingerly from the rubble, folded me up and tucked me into his backpack. He climbed back into the ‘dozer and continued his work. I knew right then that I had been given a second chance. I was grateful.

This blog post originally appeared on mrsamericanmade.com and was republished with permission.




Ana Bogusky About the Author Ana BoguskyMrs. American Made: "I love clothing, and one of my favorite places is my closet of wonderful #madeinUSA things. Some days I try on many outfits, and I plan them from head to toe. Other days I just throw on something that I already know works. I am not a model. I am not a super-duper, high-end fashionista. I am just a mom In Boulder, CO, trying to look cute on an everyday basis. Join me on my journey to creating a more sustainable wardrobe." Follow Ana on Instagram @mrsamericanmade.

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1 comment

  • Nicole, Thanks so much for sharing my little story. It’s an interesting point of view and it makes us realize that our clothes have been through so much even before we buy them. They are definitely worth taking care of! And sharing or swapping when we find we no longer want them. :) Ana

    • Ana Bogusky