Saturday, August 20, 2011

Confessions of a T-shirtaholic

In Philippa Gregory’s historical novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, the immature Mary Boleyn frequently pauses to inventory the goods she’s gained through her affair with the king. “I had a pair of matched diamonds for my ears, I had three new gowns, one of cloth of gold.”

By contrast, I have around four dozen T-shirts.

I’m not bragging. I don’t wear them to impress. I rarely wear them at all.

I hoard them.

It’s not about their utility, but about what they represent.

There's the South Carolina Book Festival, where I first encountered the Inkplots, a group of Columbia-based writers from whom I continue to learn. The Double Bridge Run from downtown Pensacola to Pensacola Beach, my longest road race ever. The Smart Matters Scholarship tennis tournament, a Junior League of Columbia school readiness program. Charleston Farmers Market, a Saturday morning event I reintroduced to the city when I worked there in Downtown Revitalization. Summer Slam, a Pensacola tennis tournament for anyone willing to play in the middle of July. Gulf Shores’ National Shrimp Festival and Pensacola’s Fiesta Forces, both of which offered me the opportunity to work in a beer booth for one free beer at the end of a two-hour shift. And more than one from various Habitat for Humanity homebuilding events.

Tucked in the bottom of the drawer, there’s one Greek-letter sorority jersey from high school, and one from college.

And there's an absent shirt. For twenty-five years, I treasured a plain white T-shirt with kelly-green-banded neck and sleeves. Emblazoned on the breast: a Maltese cross and Camp Winnataska. When my daughter got old enough to go to camp, I let my authentic retro T go with her.

One day, I might copy what a sorority sister’s mom did. She scissored out all the screen-printed art from her daughter’s collected T-shirts and made a quilt from them for her dorm room.

She understood that woven into all that cotton knit are stories of achievement, membership, experience, and lasting bonds.

But quilting is a time-consuming art that requires practice. So unless I quit writing to ply a needle, it’s more likely that I’ll stitch my memories together with words.

How about you? Are you photos-only type, or do you save other memorabilia?


Heather said...

I went to camp Winnataska, too!

I have slowly been culling my t-shirt collection. It has been hard because of all the memories associated with each shirt. I know if I wear one of my old sorority t-shirts, people will shake their heads in that "how sad" motion, but I just can't part with them.

Carla Swafford said...

Funny. I just was thinking as I walked through my house today about how I need to tell my girls the little stories behind so many of my possessions. Thankfully they're the type who enjoy stuff like that.

They already know about my mom's mom and my dad's mom's chiffrobes. I've already decided who gets which one. They know about some of my jewelry as I have some old pieces from my favorite aunt and my mom's mom.

But they don't really know about two of my old plants. Yes. I have one that's over thirty years old and one that's about to turn twenty. They've been repotted several times. And almost died a couple.

Yes. I get attached to things including clothing. Not tee-shirts as they seem to disappear. But I do have a sweater top from when I was fourteen (loved it) and a denim jacket and skirt. And...well, you get the idea.

I guess the answer is yes. I do save other memorabilia. LOL!

Lisa Dunick said...

I made a quilt from the college t-shirts my husband horded. It was actually pretty easy, and now they're no longer taking up valuable closet space. :O)

Louisa Cornell said...

Ah, Chris! My sister from another mother! I too have an extensive collection of hoarded t-shirts. T-shirts acquired on my travels, t-shirts from performances in which I participated, t-shirts from my GH finals and from writing conferences. I've kept them all. And one day they will end up in a quilt too. I did a quilt for my nephew from his collection of t-shirts before he went off to college. (I guess the t-hoarding thing is genetic!) These days I spend all of my spare time writing so my needlework is packed away waiting for me to get back to it.

And Carla, my Mom is the one who has the long-lived plants in my family. She has babied a plant given to her when my Dad passed 13 years ago. And there is a camellia "bush" outside her bedroom window that my brothers and I call our other brother. She planted it the day we moved into the house where she still lives. That was 41 years ago! 'Bubba" the camellia is nearly as tall as the house now and when in full bloom he still looks incredible.

Chris Bailey said...

Hey, Y'all!
I'm so glad I'm not the only collect-hoarder. Maybe it's part of loving stories so much.

Anyway, I'm feeling way out of touch at the moment because we went out of town this weekend for a friend's mom's funeral and actually had no internet access--too far back in the country! It was a story-ful event.

Seems providential now that I had my blog post previously scheduled.