This MIT sweatshirt is the oldest piece of clothing I own. I’ve had it since I was 14 and summering in Hawaii. Summering is a fancy way to say that my mom was fed the hell up with the first year I spent as a teenager being suspended from Catholic school, sneaking into my boyfriend’s house and getting caught shoplifting hair products. So she sent me to stay with my brother George in a two-bedroom apartment he shared with a friend.
It was a gift from my cousin Esther (hi!), who attended MIT and later worked for NASA. The closest I’ve ever gotten to MIT was watching Good Will Hunting. Esther is so smart, she doesn’t have to use her fingers to calculate how much to tip the waiter and I bet she’s never become frustrated and drunkenly asked said waiter, “MY BRAIN NO GOOD NOW! WHAT’S EIGHT PLUS FIVE?”
If you can see from this poor-quality circa 1998 photo, I am in the top right corner. I was attending the summer session of Junior Statesmen of America at Stanford. You cannot see that I am wearing the sweatshirt because I am using a couch to hide my overweight body. It’s a sad time when you have to use furniture to mask your bacon-monster frame. This is also why I am currently walking around with a rattan chair in front of me. It’s slimming.
I was 15 years old in this photo and completely in love with, Kevin, the boy who took the shot. I was in love the way you are in love when you’re a teenager, away from home for the first time and especially away from the older boyfriend at home, the one still living with his mother and driving a car with no brake pads and who constantly calls your dorm, leaving desperate messages with Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply playing in the background.
I had two friends on my floor. Most of the girls hated me. I know this because when they saw me walking down the hall, they would shut their doors. I believe most of them have moved onto successful careers and graduate degrees, unlike the girls who hated me back home. I know these girls still party and have birthed children before they could legally drive. These things I know to be true. I have MySpace.
I spent very little time in my room thanks to a roommate who filled our tiny warren with her friends who only spoke in fluent Samoan and tossed just one English sentence my way: “Do you mind if we speak Samoan?”
When I wasn’t hurrying to debate class or loitering in the bookstore aisles (not to read, just to oogle at the selection of Kama Sutra how-to books [awww yeah Milk and Water Embrace!]), I wore this sweatshirt and hung out with Kevin.
I still wear this sweatshirt, 11 years later, as one of the last remaining vestiges of my teenage years. Gone are the wrinkle-free forehead, faith in humanity, and working knowledge of Yo’ Mama jokes. All of my Yo’ Mama snaps turn into compliments like, “Yo’ Mama is so fiscally responsible, she thinks a quarterback is a refund! Because she gave a dollar for something that costs 75 cents! Snap!”
What article of clothing do you treasure the most?