by Kleitia Vaso

I first felt a deep sensation of pity mixed with regret regarding a creamy woolen cardigan-jacket which experienced a tragic end resulting from my excessive love of it. We know that excessive love can be stifling and, instead of preserving the object of our affection, causes its unfortunate and gradual demise at times. Or, to state it more precisely, excessive and selfish love usually prompts said object’s dissolution.

From an inordinate amount of wear on any type of occasion, appropriate or not, my capricious and delicate jacket had to be cleaned often but, as its material was so delicate that I was afraid to touch it let alone clean it, a special dry-cleaning method had to be employed. In a very ill-advised move, in a difficult moment, I misguidedly placed my trust in my own know-how and the impressive American laundry machinery. With seriousness deserving of a scientist I started to carefully adjust the water’s temperature, chose the right, extremely mild, detergent but, despite my extreme care, as soon as the wheel started turning, I knew I had made a fatal and irreversible mistake. Still, one hopes until the bitter end but my worst fear was confirmed when I pulled out a baby version of what had once been my favorite second skin. Then and there, I am only slightly ashamed to say, I felt real loss, specifically, the gradual sinking of the heart, lower, towards the stomach, a sensation usually associated with the loss of our first love and a piercing sense of regret for my carelessness for which I, rightly so, paid very dearly.

Now, while the sweater-jacket has mostly been forgotten and replaced with several such favorite items, none have reached its status as the undisputed favorite although I have tried to love them just as much. And, sometimes the destruction of our loved ones is beyond our control…but, really, there is no justification. It was pure carelessness on my part, a moment of voluntary surrender to the convenience of the moment which, eventually, costs us so much more than we think.

Yet, there are losses which result from our ignorance rather than facility but, regardless of their origin, the only benefit resulting from loss is the inevitable but useful lesson. Through a seemingly strong but internally frail pair of boots, I learned that the Albanian terrain is harsh and doesn’t tolerate vulnerability or lack of endurance. Ugliness yes, weakness no! The boots I am referring to were bought in the U.S, slightly before my return to Albania, but not with that purpose in mind. I bought them, as I often do, because I simply liked them. Actually, I loved them immediately and felt, as I seldom do, that they were created expressively for me. They were simply beautiful, honey-colored and flat, so practical as well, I thought. Yet, as soon as they came into contact with the ubiquitous holes in the streets of Tirana, they quickly came undone within two short months. While I was sorry that I brought them to a territory for which they weren’t meant, they also disappointed me with their immediate surrender without fighting or adapting at all.

I often think that objects can be just as exiled as people; the beautiful and expensive cars being driven through really ugly streets; the delicate boots on pavements full of surprising holes and jumping tiles; the white clothes which quickly assume a veneer of dirt just like the city itself. I suppose if we were looking for a positive interpretation, we could call the obvious lack of sterility a sign of living things. And, suffering does make us stronger, as we have learned…

Although I love the lines of the song Heavenfaced by The National, “things are tougher than we are,” the episodes presented here negate their message. The world may be tougher than us, true, but not objects. People, so seemingly fragile, survive all kinds of experiences and do not fall apart like my wimpy boots, even in cases when total and complete breakdown seems inevitable. Flesh, then, is tougher than all other material or substance and, while it may bend and break, it still finds a way to adapt to the changing circumstances. Adaptability is the key factor in survival and that is why, in many cases, I empathize more with vulnerable objects than people, who will find a way.

by Kleitia Vaso