In 1997, I bought a pair of leather pants in Barcelona while traveling through Europe during law school. It was an impulse buy during a season of significant learning, growth and cultural exposure. That summer, I was a traveling homeless person with a Eurail pass, a few hundred bucks and a date to arrive in Cambridge before our classes at Downing College were scheduled to begin. The black leather slacks seemed cool, a little edgy and practical — practical because we were sleeping in hostels and on trains, and our only laundry service was whatever we could hand wash in bathroom sinks or random public facilities. Obviously, one does not wash a pair of leather pants, at least not in the traditional sense.  I sported them around Europe all summer.  When I returned home in August, I may have only donned them in public five times. However, those occasions made lasting impressions for which I am (maybe rightfully) teased to this very day.  They never fit great. They were not as tight as you are imagining, and they were a little short or “high waters” as my dad might say.

I showed up wearing them at George Street Grocery the night before Daniel and Stephanie’s wedding a few days after I got home. You may recall that I wrote Daniel a letter he found last year, which I quoted in Death and Divorce. Stephanie, who now manages our office, was no more amused by them than she was my shaggy hair which she demanded I cut before her wedding pictures.

I obliged.

Another time I recall wearing them was a night when my former teammates were in Oxford for a weekend series in the spring of 1998. I stopped by the old Holiday Inn, where the Graduate Hotel now sits, on my way to City Grocery, the bar we frequented in those days.  The bartender would give my friend Eli discounts on drinks in exchange for larger-than-usual tips.  A win-win, yet surely a criminal conspiracy.  Rusty and Power have not let me live this appearance down some 26 years later.  Power talked about it in his toast at our wedding rehearsal dinner in 2002 and at least annually ever sense. While Power was vocal, Rusty seemed in a mild state of shock. Maybe a lefty was throwing and he was trying to get his mind right for the game.  You will remember Rusty from my blog about our college coach called One Dawg. As a side note, Coach called me the day it was published. He even read back a few lines to me before thanking me for the tribute, which was inspired by the statue they erected of him at the ballpark he built.

“Craig, I didn’t know you could write.”

“I’m a lawyer, Coach.”

“You’ve got some talent.”

“That’s the first time you’ve ever said that to me.”

And we both laughed.

He said something similar when I bombed a drive at an alumni golf event— cigar in mouth.  But I never recall him saying anything similar when I was actually on the team.

I’ve been telling Mollie Ann and Emma about my time in Europe their whole lives, encouraging them to pursue a similar experience if the opportunity presents itself. I have even used my leather pants as a prop when I tell people about the season of my life before I met Rachel.  I hope my children both create their version of what I did, opening their eyes to the beauty of the planet and cultural differences. At one time Emma was interested in doing a semester in London, but her college journey is only just beginning. Mollie is in Rome as I edit these words. In fact, I began writing this to you while on a train with her from Lake Garda to Vernazza, which is part of Cinque Terra on the Italian Riviera. She and I did a week-long trip in the shape of a candy cane from Venice to Bolzano to Lake Garda to Cinque Terra before I dropped her off in Rome to begin her summer program. She is studying intercultural communication. 

While Mollie Ann and I were in Venice, leather shops were on every corner. Italy is obviously known for this type of craftsmanship. I could smell the goods from the streets, and like a moth to a flame, I could not help but go inside a few — just like I did in Barcelona in 1997. However, this time I left the leather clothing on the rack and walked out with a leather briefcase.

Man, things sure have changed.

This world is big and small.  Sometimes a change of place and pace is necessary to find a new creative flow.  As I have been reflecting, my time in Europe in 1997 was not just a long summer trip, as it further developed my sense of wonder, curiosity and hunger for adventure.  Indeed, I have grown significantly from the days of sheep skin slacks to a lawyer’s briefcase, and I question if I have become lost or found in the “American Dream” I enjoy.  Like many things, I think the answer is both.  I love my wife, children, family, career and friends, but I also like to see new things, have new experiences and talk to interesting people.  It is easy to have a mindset of dualism, but it is better to embrace the simplicity of “both,” because multiple things can be simultaneously true…just like me owning a pair of Spanish leather pants and a Venetian briefcase.

Craig Robertson, the founder of Robertson + Easterling, has dedicated over 25 years to practicing high net worth divorce and complex family law in Mississippi. His approach extends beyond legal counsel, offering support to clients through the intricate and emotionally challenging journey of divorce. He provides compassionate and empathetic assistance to those navigating the path to healing, and he donated his leather pants to charity several years ago.