“…I was right on the edge of making lots of choices, picking out lots of new things for myself: new friends, new standards, new experiences, new hairstyles, new classes.”
I hang on to things like books, ticket stubs, old birthday cards, letters my husband wrote me 15 years ago when he was in the Air Force, my Cabbage Patch Kids scrapbook. My home office has too many scraps of paper on the bulletin board. I don’t do filing as often as I should. I have a garage full of things I plan to get around to using one day. I’m a bit of a pack rat.
However, I’m not the kind of person who hangs on to clothes after I know I’m not going to wear them anymore. I have a lot of clothes, so once I know a style is dated, I donate to a charity so someone else can wear them. Besides, I already have half of the closet in our master bedroom and the two guest room closets. My husband has to keep his clothes somewhere, doesn’t he? There are a few items I’ll probably never get rid of: prom and bridesmaids dresses, a pair of penny loafers in which the shiny pennies that were new in 1995 have dulled, and a hooded sweatshirt from my high school swim team.
When I’m on a clean out binge, I start a pile of clothes to donate when I get a couple bags full. There was one item in that pile recently that has been a special article of clothing for a long time, and I finally have gotten to the point where it’s so well-worn that it’s probably time to give it up. Since college it’s been almost strictly a shirt I wear to the gym or around the house, but it’s still gotten plenty of wear in my more grown up life. It’s broken in. Just the other day, I wore it to the gym for the last time, noticing that the neck had started to stretch out a little too much.
It’s the college T-shirt I bought in 1997 a couple days after I moved into to my dorm room at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. It’s gray and soft and has the college name across the chest in maroon block text. When I went shopping for my college textbooks for the very first time I was excited and overwhelmed. The line to check out wrapped through the supply store. While I waited in line, I added this T-shirt to my pile of books to buy.
I wore that shirt a lot that year, a year when I learned a lot about myself, about how to be successful in a college course, in meeting new friends and trying new things. I slept in that shirt, wore it to class, to the dining hall, and anywhere else I went. I wore it with flannel pajamas bottoms. I wore it with jeans and tennis shoes. I wore it with shorts. I had it on for an impromptu photo shoot some of my hall-mates and I did late one night. I had it on when I went home for the weekend with one of my new friends, Kelley, to watch her give up her homecoming crown to the next queen at her high school homecoming football game. In every picture that I’m wearing a sweatshirt from those years, there was a good chance I had this T-shirt on underneath, and I had it on plenty of days where we weren’t taking pictures.
As I navigated all the unfamiliar, I was getting more and more comfortable in this gray Meredith College T-shirt. Each time I washed and wore it again, I got more comfortable in my own skin. I accumulated more T-shirts throughout my time in college, and many of them I still have, but this one is special because it was the first one I chose for myself when I was right on the edge of making lots of choices, picking out lots of new things for myself: new friends, new standards, new experiences, new hairstyles, new classes. It was a shirt I wore a lot in that year when I grew apart from or tried to maintain relationships with friends from high school as we all moved into our different unknown territories.
Thank you Betsy for sharing your awesome story. We've repurposed Betsy's donated shirt and created "Story Tags" like you see below to be sewn on new elovate.us t-shirts. So that we can connect with each other and make new stories to share.