Yesterday my belt broke. It was not just any belt, but an accessory that had accompanied me for more than 35 years. I bought it in Ubrique in 1986 and it was made of good leather, brown, a bit badass, but I liked it. It was unstitched at the top seams and looked quite worn, but it was my belt, the one I’ve always worn, girdling my waist for so many years, watching time pass and the holes run out as age wreaked havoc on my thinness. Anyway, it wasn’t a belt, it was a hug.
The year 1986 was good: in July I started writing for the newspapers and in September I bought my belt. It was also the first summer that we were able to go on an excursion of more than one day. Today, young people can easily travel anywhere by plane. I got on a plane for the first time also in 1986. I was about to turn 30 and hadn’t flown yet.
I’ve been asked many times why I didn’t just get rid of the old belt. It was leather from Ubrique, it’s true, but it was also rough, too wide, more typical of a cowboy from Oklahoma than a posh one from Cáceres. But what do you want, I was so fond of it, it reminded me of the first newspaper column, the first flight, the first one-week excursion exploring Andalusia.
The belt I bought in the summer of ’86 has broken and I’ve been left without a handle, without a certainty, without a household object that stirred nostalgia. To make matters worse, it broke at the doctor’s office. It was quite a warning: you are just beginning to convince yourself that you are mortal when he goes and dies and you have to go to the store to buy a new belt, which is thinner, more elegant, with more holes… But it is not the same. Something subtle has changed in my life and in my waist.
At first, I didn’t know what to do. I would have brought it home, but my wife told me with her eyes that she wasn’t willing to keep any more zarrios and I ended up throwing it in a trash can on the street, it wasn’t even a matter of walking with a belt hanging from my hand, as if I the dog would have escaped.
It hurts me that my old ’86 belt is considered a jerk. The word is very beautiful and very extreme, but my belt was a relic, a fetish, a symbol, not a zarrio. And now I understand my mother-in-law, that she is like me when it comes to memories and she has a kitchen cupboard full of plates and glasses that she bought when she got married. That must have been in 1955, so you can imagine those remains of crockery, glassware and cutlery worthy of appearing in a showcase of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Every once in a while, we give my mother-in-law a modern coffee set or nice modern tableware. We always do it with the secret hope that she will retire her heirloom cups and plates once and for all. But she refuses, she keeps the gift in some hiding place and keeps her earthenware cups and her old Duralex plates in use, that if she one day puts them in Wallapop, she will surely get a little money.
When my belt broke, the first thing I did was think of my mother-in-law’s wardrobe-museum and I understood her: to get rid of some cups or a belt is to get rid of yourself, as if the past no longer served any purpose. Luckily I still have her and her prehistoric crockery. I have asked him to borrow a glass of polka dots from the catapum year, now I drink coffee in it and once again have the consolation of memory and the illusion that the time does not matter, but the moment.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.