Rip and Stain (the good life)

my mom bought me new tights as an obsession because she knew the loss of luster that comes with overusing. she wanted me to look held together, like i was taken care of by the consistency of clean thread. as they bound my legs, their thin hairs and discolored bites, they knew what it means to overstretch and survive the fleshy orientation of the leg.

the threads interweave to create a container for movement, shaping themselves to the needs of what they hold. they have perfected their role of holding exalted dreams in place, dreams that left exposed, lose their gentleness, their lure. each thread must hold the same dream to delay the ripping that comes with knowing.

when unwanted, they shrink themselves to their smallest architecture. when needed, they are worn, and distance increases between them. the distance that comes between relations, i know so well.


we never owned a mop growing up. my mom moved along the floor on her hands and knees with cloth. she did this almost every day and had an intimate relationship with the floors that most of us lack. she was not a delicate woman, but took care of the cracks in the floor, the flaws in formation.

the threads cry but no one is listening. they continue to hold it all together, swallowing lawless fluids so our skin doesn’t have to. i’ve watched the tragedy of Rip and Stain unfold, the strange contours passing liquid, and breaking tension. i’ve thrown away so many tights.


our kitchen counters were always lined with misshapen sweet potatoes, touching one another in transparent bins. there was often a fresh batch cooling on the stove, each potato parallel to one another, not touching. their peels were sometimes undone, its purple, orange or yellow flesh peaking, sometimes caramelized, its sticky juices consuming its peel. my friends were always fascinated by this odd domestic landscape, as if they were viewing the edible version of a yayoi kusama piece.

my mom swore by high nutritional value of sweet potatoes. it was her version of chips, whole and unprocessed. as a chemist, she had a fixation on what i could put in and on my body. no hamburgers, no nail polish, no deodorant, no tampons, no flip flops… when i was seven, i stole green mascara from a pharmacy and then dyed it blue with ink. i later learned that what i stole was actually hair dye. when i was in kindergarden, i stole a headband from a department store, cut the band off to keep the flower centrepiece and then brought it to show and tell. i stole to reach for what i couldn’t have.

when a thread finally breaks, the holes grow bigger, and the other threads lose touch. the fibers come undone and they cannot be redone. to mend two ends into one is a lofty challenge. with unfinished ends, and increasing distance between them, they are thrown away, their destiny of being disposed compensated by that of being replaced.

i wore ripped tights when my mom wasn’t watching. i appreciated the holes that come with being well worn. sometimes i covered the ends with nail polish to stop them from growing, the pieces of dangling thread that hang, but i loved the look of loose threads hanging freely, so long that they could tangle and interweave again. they know what it means to move. my mom has always known what it means to move.





Carolin Huang is an archivist/writer/researcher living in Montreal.