I am a sweatshirt girl. I like sleeping in them, playing in them, studying in them, blogging in them. The lovely island on which I live usually maintains a 9 degree excess over my body temperature for about 10 months of the year. (Read: really friggin hot.) So now that I’ve entered sweatshirt month, I thought I’d write a little somethin’ about my favorite clothing item. I also get chided (primarily by Ollie) for wearing sweatshirts at inappropriate times. Like a New Years party. Or a wedding.
There are three stages in a sweatshirt’s life. In that first stage, the inside is incredibly soft, even softer than my kitty. Even a tank top under that sweatshirt would just ruin the pleasure of that sweatshirt. My Catalina Life Guard red hoodie, for which I am notoriously identified as “red hoodie girl,” has been in stage one for an exceptionally long time. I bought it in Catalina a few summers ago while we were sleeping on the deck of my father-in-law’s sailboat, and it was just a tad too cold to sleep in a tank top. It was the first thing I put on playing in the ocean all day. Like a big hug.
Stage two commences at about the 50th wash. You start to notice the that “University of Such and Such” logo has started to crack, the solid pigment of the material has started to fade into a hazy color. Stage two is most identifiable by the gnarly little fuzz balls that have started to form on the inside. A stage two sweatshirt is best worn over clothing, and only worn for warmth, and not necessarily comfort. Good for camping, tailgates, and quick runs to check the winter surf. The arms are a tad stretched, the material has gotten a bit stiff.
There is a reason you do not give up on Stage two sweatshirts, and that is Stage three.
Stage three is the ultimate goal of keeping a sweatshirt for 2 decades. Stage three has dissolved the sweatshirt down to a thin, James-Perse-quality fabric that is like wearing your favorite baby-blanket around your shoulders well into your late 20’s.
My stage three is a Yale Athletics sweatshirt. It’s kind of funny actually because when I wear it, I suppose people think that not only did I have my shit enough together at the age of 18 as to get into Yale (I did not) but I also was physically coordinated enough to actually be involved in Athletics while at Yale (I most certainly was not). It has holes, but the holes are gently worn, and haven’t spread too far (or in inappropriate, nipple regions). The hard little fuzz balls on the inside have stopped being so angry and have settled into a nice fluffy film. The cracked writing on the outside has almost disintegrated so that it appears like I spilled coffee into a “Y-A-L-E” shaped stain. (That talent alone ought to have gotten me into Yale, no? Stanford, probably.) I think I actually lifted it from a girlfriend back in 2000, who had bought it on a college tour, back in 1995. That’s another rule of sweatshirt etiquette. If you have possession of the sweatshirt for longer than 2 years, it is legally yours. Squatter’s rights.
Stage three is really whatever you want it to be. It is more t-shirt than sweatshirt, you can sleep in it, you can wear it for warmth. And although it looks like a cleaning rag, you love it so much, and it feels so nice that you don’t even care what onlookers think. “Yes, I played athletics at Yale, and I’m homeless now, what do you want? ATHLETICS…yes, um, ALL OF THEM. Can I have my latte now?”
Why is this relevant to you, dear readers? Well I was thinking of the sweatshirt as the ultimate analogy for life. Most things in life worth holding on to follow the same pattern. Marriage, being a small business owner, raising kids, remodeling a home. Stage one: new and exciting, feels just right. Stage two: gets a little rough, ragged around the edges. You wonder if it’s still worthy of your attention and efforts. Stage three: the payoff. The familiarity. The love. So I guess the moral of the story is, stick it out till stage three.