Before I begin, I was captivated by the idea of telling one’s history or story through 100 objects. I know this was done here and let’s face it, I’m making it up as I go along. I’m pretty sure the BBC has hordes of writers and editors who can clean up pieces of writing.
I, of course, am doing it on my own.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that this will now be a semi-regular feature that will be (gasp!) 100 posts long and will try to tell my personal history. I’m not picking a day to do these “100 Objects of Charlie” posts. It’s just going to happen when the mood hits.
So, that being said, please continue reading.
One Sunday morning, I wore the oldest piece of clothing that I own. It looks like this but with more blue than green. It is extremely old, very worn, frayed and soft. It is several sizes too big on me but that apparently, is how I liked my clothing when I was a junior in high school. It is 21 years old and like my eldest niece would be legally allowed to drink.
It’s strange that I’ve hung on to a piece of clothing for that long. Is this done out of nostalgia? Do other people do this? Is this just me? It’s probably just me. And really it wasn’t at first out of nostalgia. It just never made the chopping block every time I cleaned out my closest. Before you ask, yes, I can get rid of pieces of clothing that I don’t wear. I do this regularly. In fact, I even cleaned out my closest last month.
But I love this silly piece of clothing. It is, at its essence, the most me thing ever. I wore it in my junior year high school picture. It’s really the only picture that I liked during my high school years. Every other school picture I was trying to told to be something or someone else. It’s the truest picture of me during that period of my life.
So, what was going on in 1994? Apparently, Newt Gringrich was the House Speaker. There was a MLB players strike. O.J. Simpson was arrested. Hmm, seems like a stellar year. Naturally, there seems to be more bad than good during that year (Buzzfeed has a killer list that totally won’t make you feel old *at all*…I’m lying. Of course it will make you feel old!)
For me, I was a junior in high school. I was just starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. Being an “other” I was an oddity, a curiosity growing up. During my junior year, I figured out that I didn’t have to stay in my hometown; that I could escape (in two years, even!) and become someone else (That really didn’t happen, but like a fine wine, I only grew more pronounced in my personality. But that’s for another story.)
Like I said, the button down is incredibly soft, frayed, and worn. Even when washed, it still feels exactly the same to me; soft and comforting. It is one of the heavier shirts that I own and cannot possibly be tucked into my jeans if I tried. (It’s just too bulky to do it.)
It hasn’t shrunk and remains exactly the same size (extra-large, because, I liked my clothing two sizes too big). The colors are faded, to be sure, but the distinctive plaidness of it remains. Also, this button down reeks of the Seattle grunge scene of the early 90s. I’m quite proud of this. It’s a link to what I tried to be in the past.
Instinctively, when I put this shirt on – over a t-shirt, by the way, never by itself – I automatically feel like I can kick someone’s ass in a mosh pit – not that I have ever been in a mosh pit, but you get the meaning. It brings back memories of being out on a Friday or Saturday night (with a 10 pm curfew, unless I got special permission from my parents) and going to a show in some rinky-dink little hole in the wall filled with other angsty teens who were trying to be cool. My hair would be pulled back and away from my face and most of the time I would have my glasses on because contacts have never cut it for me. (That’s another story.)
It reminds me of being with my friends driving around the local cemetery. “M” would drive while “A,” “C” and I would stick our heads out the window and look up at the night sky filled with stars rushing past. She’d drive faster, whipping us around corners and making us squeal, the cool air streaming past us. We’d forget about our days at school and the latest crisis or crush of the moment, infinite in ourselves and confident that we were making the right decisions. (We weren’t. We never were.)
I was in love with a boy who my best friend also loved. I never told her that he and I were a long distance item and when he stopped talking to her, I comforted “A” through her heartbreak. He is actually the reason I ended up in the city I live in. (But like everything else, is another story.) Had he and I continued to date I have every notion that our breakup would have been messier than it was (conflicting worldview points).
My journals during this period of my life are filled with longing to be with him everyday, thinking about what he was doing, what he was saying, who was with him…we wrote very fevered and frequent letters to each other. I still have his letters at my parents house, locked up and under the bed. I think somewhere I have a journal that I kept and planned on giving to him when I finished so he could have a peek into my head.
I’m glad that I never had a chance to give it to him.
The button down hangs in my closet, surrounded by my work clothes and looking very shabby next to them. But I cannot throw it away. I suppose that one day I will give in and do it, but not today. Or tomorrow for that matter.