Thursday, January 28, 2016

So Long, Sarong

It had to happen at some point. After almost 20 years, my sarong has worn thin and finally torn.

The tear is not close to an edge where the material could be cut and re-hemmed. It's not a small rent that could be hidden with close stitching. Instead it's a ragged rip in the middle bordered by thinning threads that barely keep the hole from growing.

A sarong - just a patterned, rectangular piece of material. Yet it holds the key to so many memories.

Sarongs were popular in the 1990s. At that time Hubby and I were living in Western Sydney where the Summer temperatures would soar into the high 30s (Celsius), so a sarong was a welcome addition to my wardrobe. I'd come home from work, change out of my work clothes and wrap myself in a sarong. A sarong was so much cooler than a T-shirt and shorts, and the lightweight material could easily be styled into a strapless dress, a halter dress, or even a halter top to pair with shorts.

My blue, white-and-black patterned sarong was my first ‘proper’, ‘advertised-as-a-sarong’ sarong. The other two I'd owned were pieces of material I had hand-hemmed. The first was a heavier, pink, floral material that didn't lend itself well to tying and I ended up giving it away as material for craft or dress-making. The second was a screen-printed Aboriginal-designed fabric of yellow and green from the Tiwi Islands. It was a little bit shorter in length than the standard sarong (and therefore, tended to be worn as a top or a mini-dress). Eventually that sarong frayed through, and I bought my blue sarong to replace it.

It was while I was preparing for my trip to Nepal that I discovered how versatile a sarong could be. A sarong takes up little space in the backpack and weighs very little. When I stopped over in steamy Singapore, staying with a friend for a week before heading to Nepal, my sarong became a light sheet to cover myself with at night.

Whilst in Hawaii my sarong became a rug on which Hubby and I could relax by the beach, and a towel to dry me off after a swim. During those hot days of my Summer teacher training residentials, my sarong served again as a cool dress and a light sheet.

On our last trip to Townsville that sarong became a halter dress as I walked to the Rock Pool, a skirt after my swim, and a scarf to protect my shoulders from the tropical sun.

And more recently, the hot, sultry Sydney weather has found me wrapped in my sarong-styled halter dress instead of my usual tank top and shorts.

I wish I was a little more skilled with cotton and needle like most of my rellies. I'm sure the material could be used to make something like a cushion cover or some other momento. I know I shouldn't be attached to a piece of material but, having survived almost 20 years, it provides a tangible link to all those memories.

One thing for sure, I can't wear it so I have replaced it with a new sarong. This sarong, made and printed in India, has borders of seemingly abstract symbols and hearts that remind me of Swami Sivananda's philosophy of “head, heart, hands”. The centre of the sarong comprises Om symbols enclosed in radiant suns. Maybe this new sarong represents where I am at this stage in life, turning inwards, finding myself, preparing for new adventures and building new memories.

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