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Pajamas: A Love Story

Pajamas: A Love Story

By Jordan Foland

I feel bad about what I’m going to do here. What I’m going to do here is write something about my ex-boyfriend. Let’s call him Matt.

A few months ago I called Matt and told him (or his voicemail, more specifically) that we should forget the past and be friends, and now I’m going to blow it. See, Matt has refused to speak to me since February, when about thirty hours into our romantic weekend away, I demanded he drive me to the airport so I could get on a flight I booked on my phone just minutes before.

Matt and I met by chance six years ago in San Francisco just a few days after my twenty-first birthday when my flight back to my midwestern college town got canceled due to a snowstorm. We had one of those first dates where you spend all night talking, and before you know it you’re having pancakes at 3 a.m. Matt and I tried to stay in touch after I went back to school, but things fizzled out after a few months, and at twenty-one, I thought I had a lifetime of sparkling first dates ahead of me. I have since become far more knowledgeable about the ways of the world. In the intervening years of uncomfortable small talk over drinks, stilted Tinder banter and one very ill-advised dinner at a barbeque restaurant, I always thought of Matt as the one who got away.

Last fall I booked an extended trip home for the holidays, and I impulsively texted Matt after years of silence. Our second date was the day before New Year’s Eve and by hour six of our fourteen-hour date, I was mentally taking notes for my future screenplay based on our love story. Matt laughed at my jokes, smelled like laundry detergent, and, as I came to find out, had a habit of waking up in the middle of the night to brush his teeth so he could come back to bed with minty-fresh breath.

"...I was mentally taking notes for my future screenplay based on our love story"

When the idea of a romantic weekend away was brought up, I, of course, said yes. Hotels and flights were booked for six weeks out and very shortly thereafter our relationship began to fall apart. But, we had non-refundable flights and a prepaid hotel stay to consider, and I suspect we were both unwilling to admit that the fantasy we had been holding onto for years was just that - a fantasy.

So instead of admitting things weren’t working, I shopped. Specifically, I became obsessed with finding the perfect pair of pajamas. Why? Because shopping is a very effective distraction when you have a new long-distance love who simultaneously refuses to acknowledge your birthday (he doesn’t “do birthdays”) and asks you which San Francisco neighborhood you could see yourself living in because he’s thinking of buying a place. No amount of analysis via group text, or with your therapist, can help you parse that kind of emotional dissonance.

"So, instead of admitting things weren’t working, I shopped..."

I was a woman on a mission, and this obsessive Capricorn left no stone unturned in my search for the perfect sexy-yet-casual sleepwear. I wanted something that didn’t look like I was trying too hard, or like something a woman would have worn to the beach in the early 1900s. In hindsight, I now know I was searching for something I imagined the kind of girls who dated guys like Matt might wear.

I was going for the opposite of my usual look, which consisted of a toothpaste-stained shirt from my office bowling league paired with Old Navy leggings from 2012. With Matt, not only was I moving on from the mopey, non-committal musician boys of my past, I was also going to be a new, improved version of myself. The kind of girl who doesn’t get the exact same toothpaste stain on the exact same spot of her shirt every night.

Over the next month, I ordered at least six different outfits online. There was the crop-top sleep set that made me look like I was wearing the world's saddest sports bra, an oversized sleep shirt that gapped at almost every button, and a silk getup with shorts that rode up my crotch leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. Nothing I ordered seemed right, so when it was time to get ready for my trip, I reluctantly packed up my least hideous pair of leggings and hoped for the best.

It turns out, when a relationship is failing because of fundamentally different outlooks on life and a complete breakdown of communication, there are no pajamas in the world that could prevent your weekend of uninterrupted, unadulterated alone time from turning into a complete and utter shit storm. After one very long, very trying day, including an almost entirely silent driving tour of all seventeen miles of 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, I found myself standing on the balcony of our hotel room asking my dad in a stage-whisper (because I only had one bar of service and my texts weren’t going through) how he felt about driving three hours to come pick me up from my romantic weekend turned bad.

"My search for the perfect sleepwear, as it turns out, wasn’t about sleepwear at all."

My search for the perfect sleepwear, as it turns out, wasn’t about sleepwear at all. It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend combing the internet for the perfect pajamas that look more Roman Holiday than Mrs. Doubtfire, you might just end up exactly where you were meant to be all along. Wearing your old leggings and Banana Splits bowling shirt at your best friend’s house, re-downloading Tinder and telling yourself the same lie we all have to tell ourselves to keep swiping even when the swiping gets bleak. Who’s to say the best pajamas of your life aren’t just around the corner?