The Story of the One-Legged Jeans

Phoebe Park - Ecuador


April 21, 2017

I finally found my item of significance from my bridge year: my one-legged jeans. I wore them practically every training seminar, a four-day series of sessions and dance parties with fellow fellows in my region in different parts of the country. Although I never wore them in my community, these half jeggings half booty shorts were a big part of my year.



In many ways these hybrid pants embodied the unapologetic boldness I wanted to possess, the kind that turns heads, warrants questions, and sometimes maybe even judgement. I got extremely varying responses. Some  people loved it, some people hated it, and some people had no idea what to think. And that was fine. I think a part of me already knew I would encounter judgement, so on purpose, I wore what I considered statement pants to brush off the looks with confidence. I fell in love with these pants, and they made me strangely happy.

When we first arrived to our Regional Training Seminar location, a warmer humid place not yet on the coast – Yunguilla, I went to the bathroom to change out of my skin-tight jeggings for loose-shorts. I looked down to find a small but expanding hole in the inner thigh of the pants. Damn. I only got one week into my host community, and I already have to throw these out.

I cut the right leg directly above the hole with the intention of making my pants into shorts. By this time almost three months had gone by since I had started to wake up to the sounds of roosters crowing. Training Seminar 1 (TS1) to cap the first training block was coming up next week, and I wanted to be beach-ready at Ayampe. My alarm rang. Oh shoot. I’m late to work.

As I packed my bags the night before TS1, I find my jeans half cut into shorts. I pull them on to measure how much to cut the left leg, but I look myself in the mirror. In the reflection, I see something odd, an in-between stage of the pants to shorts transformation, and I decide that I like my pants like that. I don’t cut the other leg; I put my half-pants half-shorts creation in my luggage.

And I feared how stupid I would appear with my one-legged jeans on, but I pulled them on anyways the first morning together with my fellow fellows. And the rest is history.

Tonight was the very last night in the program with my global cohort in Santa Cruz, California finishing our Re-Entry Training. We had just finished our closing ceremonies, and my fellow Ecuador fellows and I found ourselves on a picnic table together reminiscing our past eight months together in country. And among the many stories, my pants came up. One of my dear friends requested that I would wear them one last time for the memories, so of course, I did.

Throughout the night, my fellow Ecuador fellows brightened after seeing my famous pants, asking Do you remember Vilcabamba with those pants? The fellows from the other countries asked with laughter and/or judgement about the one-legged pants, and asked for the backstory.

Just a couple of hours ago my now fellow 2017 Global Citizen Year Ecuador Alum asked me what I was going to do with my pants. Were they going to go home with me? Were they going to get thrown out? Would the other leg be cut? Just moments before half of our hundred person global cohort had left on the first bus to San Francisco Airport leaving us tearful and reminiscent. I might cut them fully into shorts. They live and die with GCY.

Oh. But you don’t want to keep them, and continue sharing the story of your one-legged jeans?

Actually, I think about keeping my pants in a memory box and taking them out for special wears when I am missing Ecuador or want to share this story.

Yeah, I thought that they were bold. I liked them.

I liked them, too. But these jeans were mostly an Ecua-thing. The people who were with me when I was in the mindset to cut them like this understood me. The global cohort today just thought I was straight up weird, and I get that. Only my Ecuador cohort, they appreciated my one-legged jeans because they appreciated where I was at the time and how it has grown me and grown with me. And there’s something special about holding things in one place and time.

I wanted to try on radically different. I wanted to be radically different. I cut my pants this way. I dyed my virgin hair. These are external radically differents. I guess they expressed my need and desire for an internal radically different, and in many ways, my pants were a vessel to reach a new internal radically different as much as an external one.

Phoebe Park