Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

I am doing it. The ultimate sacrifice. In the name of a lighter load, I am purging my t-shirt collection. Now, to be fair, I believe I have done this a few times before, as many of my t-shirts seem to have disappeared, but it is never easy.

Have you ever thought about the story of your life as it is told through fashion? Well, obviously we all go through trends and stages of fashion in our life. But, since I avoid the camera and haven’t really kept up with fashion trends (or really shopped for myself) for a long time, I can’t share that story here. I can, however, share part of my story as it is told through t-shirts. So join me through a trip down memory lane.

Perhaps the oldest t-shirt in my collection is this beauty from Fitzwilly’s in Northampton, MA, one of my favorite restaurants from my undergraduate college days at Smith.

Bought at Fitzwilly's ca. 1990

If I Tell You What It Means Will You Buy Me A Drink (Back of Fitzwilly's t-shirt)

Next we skip a few years (I don’t know what happened to t-shirts from Japan) and head to Hawaii, for adventures galore.

I got this at Sea Life Park in Hawaii the week after I graduated with my MFA from the University of Hawaii. For complicated reasons this t-shirt meant more than my diploma at the time.

I love this t-shirt given to me when my dear friend Nancy visited me in Hawaii from Japan. I hope she visits me in Mass., or better yet, I get to visit her in Japan someday.

We bought this on Maui, when Nathan finally admitted that he didn't really want to see anyone else. (For more on that story see the post called "Stumbling into Romance"

From Hawaii, we skip another few years to my doctoral program. Nathan and I got married in Hawaii, while I was in the middle of a doctoral program at Arizona State University. 7 months later, he moved to Vermont for work and I stayed in Arizona to finish up my dissertation.  I did research at three different professional companies for Young Audiences: Childsplay in Tempe, AZ; Dallas Children’s Theater; and my favorite Metro Theatre Company in St. Louis, MO (a company I learned about during the year before I started at ASU when we lived nearby.

I think we bought this t-shirt when we were in Hawaii to get married. It is dyed with chocolate (Yum) and smelled like chocolate for a while.

I spent a wonderful week or so at Metro, observing, interviewing and helping during their summer education program called Arts Intersection.

Move forward again, to our time in Vermont. We both taught. I directed, and I started a children’s theater company which didn’t survive much past my time there, as we had to move on.

Short lived, but well loved.

"Life is Good" when you live near enough to the Ben & Jerry factory for a tour.

For some reason I don’t have any t-shirts from the next stop on our living tour, Durango, CO. I guess I never bought any or didn’t keep them. I do have one from the first summer as a family at Okoboji Summer Theater, which happened while we lived in Durango.

And that brings us to the present. A t-shirt filled year in Independence, KS

I wonder what my next t-shirt will be. What is the t-shirt story of your life?

0 thoughts on “Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

  1. As my husband’s career took him to many exotic places, my story is: he’s been there; I got the t-shirt. Sometimes sweatshirt, occasional baseball caps. So my t-wardrobe reflects second-hand life, though I do have my own tripping which includes Safari all over Africa with cougars, elephants, lions and zebras. Istanbul, Tuk-tuk Thailand, their Hill Tribes, Hungary, Romania, Russia and many of his contributions from Sweden, England, Scotland and Lichtenstein and Turkey. Schools. I wear schools: Drexel. Harvard, Case, U of P, Ohio State. Last year I refurbished my t-clothes and baseball caps with everywhere-Holy Land, heavy with Masada. Sphinx (stunning) and pyramids. So essentially, I’m a walking travelogue.

    My daughter, the politico, graces me with FBI and CIA caps, Washington everything, and Rosie the Riveter caps, scarves and t-shirts. What do I mostly wear now? Simple white T-shirts.

  2. T-shirts, in our house, is a sore spot. Dapper G is a sports fisherman and often gets free t-shirts from boat dealers, tournaments, marinas, salesman, friends, etc. Much like your collection. It’s a tough decision, isn’t it? I always think, “Hmm, this one would be great for gardening. This one for painting.!”

  3. Love the post – most of my t-shirt collection was tossed/donated/delegated to the rag-bag when we moved 1300 miles last fall. Nothing too exciting in there – Red Cross Donor give-aways, various 5K walks entered, Michigan State University team wear…loads of pizza tees. I miss them, though, especially when I need something to clean house in.

  4. My favorite is the shirt I got for finishing my first marathon when I was 16. I trained my butt off and ran for over three hours….just for that shirt….since you had to finish the race to get one. It was my most prized possession for years. :)

  5. My T shirts seem to be school related, University of Western Ontario, my school where I taught, McEachren Mustangs and my political protest/teacher strike collection! Heck YEAH! I hang my teacher protest shirts out on the front yard ON THE BUSHES when my neighbour puts up a political party sign that bugs me. Ha! he takes his sign down right away! Often our elections are related to education issues!

  6. Alright that is just too weird. I have a whole collection of T-shirts that needs to go bye bye, but because of the history they relate I was going to do the same thing you just did. Only I was planning on maybe making another “movie”. Still going to do it, not the least because most of the shirts need to be documented before they go away. But we really need to stop thinking os much alike!

  7. I’m an odd duck – I don’t wear shirts with stuff on them (be that brand or silkscreen).

    I have a floating pen collection.

    You could cut the front off each shirt, square it up, sew them together and make a quilt/lap blanket… just a thought.

  8. Wow I don’t think I own any clothes from 1990! I’m not big on buying T-shirts as souvenirs although I do have a Spice Girls one from their reunion tour :) I like the quilt idea although they do that in the Twilight film!

    • Thanks for making me feel old Vicky. You probably don’t have them because you were a kid. ;) I like the idea of the quilt, but I think I’d rather do it with my daughter’s old clothes. Just writing about the t-shirts has made it easier to let them go.

  9. My life is nothing but T-Shirts. That’s the work clothes. I guess I didn’t get the white collar job. Actually I need to throw out some of the white collar shirts because I got them all stained.

  10. I made a T-shirt quilt out of my son’s collection. I just cut squares out of the front (and back if there was printing or a design on it). You could do the same and keep them for some kind of art project, if it’s not already too late.

    • It’s not too late, as the pile of t-shirts is still sitting in the middle of the floor. However, I fear it would become one of those many craft projects that travel from place to place with me and never get done. I think it is time to let some of them go as well, so I am bidding farewell to the t-shirts. Lovely suggestion thoug.

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