• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

Nothing will ever be the same

28th March 2020. Home. The dogs and I post doggy bath.

My mornings are sacred. Sometimes I go for a walk with the dogs and a friend. Sometimes I have quiet time. It’s for meditation, for affirmation, for reflection. It’s necessary - vital even. It’s when I ask myself if my actions align with the man I’d like to be. I’m getting there I think, but there’s so much more work to be done. I’ve developed this awful habit of looking at myself as the victim. I’m entitled when I shouldn’t be. I’m petty without reason. I have flaws. If I do not name them, if I do not identify the reasons behind my actions, I will never be the man I’ve seen in my dreams. And then, I have a shower, call myself darling, pick out the armour that will carry me to do battle against the day and the corona virus.

When I was an anchor, my armor was a suit. Sometimes burgundy, sometimes navy, almost never black. When I was a reporter, I lived in stretch denim. And when, I was a party boy without an income, it was boxers till night time and then statement trousers with a winning shirt to carry the night. My past is the foundation of my sartorial diction. It is broad. It informs my sartorial future. Everything is deliberate. Every piece of clothing is imbued with meaning and purpose.

I have an older brother called Gbeminiyi. I call him brother father, because he is very often both. He sends me money when I am broke, rescues me when I am stranded, stands up for me when I lack the power to do so. He is beloved. But his wife, a dear childhood friend of mine, is even more beloved. Her love is easier to receive than his. His is a contract of mutual support, responsibility and understanding. His criticism is heavy, his affection is duty. He is the Nigerian first born child, he wears the burden proudly. His armour? A face mask, gloves, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and trainers from the fever dream of any self respecting hipster.

I’m trapped in a pattern of thought that’s fiction. “When this is over... I’ll party so hard that the Jesus that turned wine to water will turn my wine to water.” “When we defeat the Corona virus. Life will return to what it was before we knew the true names of viruses like - SARS 2 Covid 19.” Compelling lies.

Life will never go back to what it was. Sweatpants will never again be what Karl Lagerfeld said they were: “a sign of defeat.” A sign that: “you lost control of your life so you gave up and got some sweatpants.” We’ve reclaimed our comfort from the self harming labours of fashion. Our desire for safety has infected our understanding of what it means to dress.

I never thought I’d ever wear a face mask. I used to think they were the battle gear of health professionals: dentists, doctors, nurses - and I suppose... over zealous Asians. These days, I am plagued by my desire to wear one. I don’t care if they improve health outcomes, public or private. If I do not feel safe, then I am not safe. So I wear my face mask regardless of what policy makers say. The feeling will stay with me even after the threat of Covid passes. My world view has changed.

1st of April 2020. The Omar Garden. Me in my Torlowei mask.

My face mask is by premier Nigerian fashion label, Torlowei: Yellow and black; a tiger with yellow stripes. It feels wholesome. Three layers of cotton between me and the world. It has a pocket that lets me increase my defenses as I like. It is my first. It will not be my last.

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