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I believe a garment should last at least a decade, sometimes even longer. It’s a trait I inherited from my father who held onto his 1970s-era wide ties forever, predicting they’d make a comeback someday along with sideburns and powder-blue leisure suits.
Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog may have noticed that I’m wearing the same shirt in practically every picture. It’s a fairly nondescript Columbia shirt, tan plaid on a black background. At first it wasn’t particularly one of my favorites, in fact it doesn’t even fit properly. I bought it when I weighed about 20 pounds more than I do now so I am swimming in it. But it was easy to maintain and went with just about everything I own.
After a few years I grew attached to it. By the time it reached the magic ten-year mark we were practically common-law spouses; but I always knew the day would come when I’d have to say good-bye. A prospect I didn’t relish.
It was one of the four shirts I brought along on this trip (two long-sleeve and two short-sleeve). But after a year around the world it was finally fading and breaking down. By the time we reached Africa, near the end of our journey, I reached a sad conclusion. This shirt wasn’t coming home with me.
But how do you get rid of a favorite garment? Is there some sort of ceremony that covers this situation? Larissa suggested burning it (along with a few pairs of socks that could practically walk on their own). Along the way I’d seen a few interesting trees that were covered with discarded clothing. In the Australian Outback we spotted what was literally a shoe tree, that is, a tree covered with shoes. Further into the Outback we passed by a bra tree; draw your own conclusions what that one was covered with.
Now we were staying deep into the Erongo Plain in Namibia, a long way from anywhere. I took the tree outside and hung it up for a few photos and a teary-eyed farewell. Then I left it there. I hope someone comes along who’ll treasure it like I did. Or perhaps in a few years that tree will be covered with other travelers’ shirts. Either way it will be a fitting memorial to a shirt that never let me down.
What items of clothing have you held onto forever and why?