The blanket is like a cross between badly felted wool and the stuff they use to make carpet padding, brown-gray or gray-brown with lumps of other colors, white and pink and darker brown and pale blue. When you hold it up to the light–like, say, when you try to cover yourself–there are thin places you can pretty much see through. It isn’t quite twin size; folded in half lengthwise, it just fits the canvas of the cot.
It itches. I wake up every morning for a week surprised my arms aren’t welted up with a rash. If I pull it up to my chin, I think I’m about to sprout the world’s worst case of acne.
Of course, if I do pull it up to my chin, my feet hang out.
Also, it sheds. If I forget to bring in my sweatpants-cum-jammies to change into after dinner, I spend what feels like hours pulling fuzz and hairlike threads off my thrift-store jeans and Land’s End t-shirt.
So yeah, it itches, and it sheds, and it’s just not-big-enough to lull me into a false sense of security every night: maybe tonight I can stay covered! But it’s warm enough, for me, anyway, and in the church gym’s chill basement in the middle of the night, surrounded by 15 or so snoring, coughing strangers, warm is more than enough.
That’s the blanket I was issued on my first night in the homeless shelter where I spent the last week of February.