rips and tears

My favourite Red Sox hat frays at the brim. Sometimes I burn the errant threads, out of boredom more than anything else. My jeans tear at the cuffs. There are holes over the front pockets. Most of my t-shirts faded a long time ago and I can't think of a jumper I own that's in one piece. Ten years ago there may have been cigarette burns. Nowadays it's wear and (mostly) tear. Jumpers work hard in Scotland.

Sometimes people ask me if I buy my clothes that way, or single them out for abuse to attain a 'look'. I smile and shake my head. There's little point in indignation.

I look scruffy, but I'm comfortable. I'm sure I'd still be comfortable without the holes.

This morning I taped the torn pages of my battered manuscript back together. There isn't an undogged corner. Illegible red scribbles cover the pages. The odd red wine, coffee, beer or tea stain pops up here and there. Now several leaves glisten with tape. It fits in my laptop bag. Every time I pull it out and start going through it some of the pages are out of order, upside down and often both. No matter how many times I fix it, there's always something new to sort out. That's just in the physical sense, not the literary.

I love it, and am proud of it. There is great comfort in its weight, the threadbare pages covered in my words, typed, scrawled and spilled. There will be another, maybe two more 'scripts like this. Before the really heavy one, before the one with a hardcover and a picture of me on the back.

I don't think that will be as comforting. It will be a relief, a vindication, a blessing, a triumph. But not comforting. For me, the comfort is the dogged paperback, squishing into a pocket in my rucksack, read and re-read. Loved. That someone might someday do the same with what I've written, that glimmer of hope that someday this torn and taped 'script will boast a creased spine, page corners folded in lieu of a bookmark, the odd dirty fingerprint and be shoved into the last available space in someone's bag, that's a comforting idea.

I wear my clothes out, I wear my 'script out. It takes time. It takes living. It takes patience.

In the meantime, there's comfort; beers in the sun in tired flip-flops, red ink stains on the top knuckle of my middle finger.

Then an agent, a publisher, somehow and somewhen.

And, perhaps, a new pair of jeans.