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once everything was beautiful
What if your life story could be told by the T-shirts you own? This question came to me as the second in a series of “folding-the-laundry” moments.

This T-shirt was gifted to me by our longtime family friend Nancy E. If she had given it to me 25 years ago, when we first met, the T-shirt’s quote would only have been a line from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five—the epitaph Billy Pilgrim wants for his tombstone. (Actually, Billy’s wish was the entire phrase, minus the word “once.” Amazing how the addition of that word on this T changes the whole context.) Those words have a more literal meaning now that I’m in my 50s. That’s not the only gift she presented that evening.

On top of hosting an elegant dinner and reunion with old friends, Nancy gave me a precious garment—a vintage peach negligee that was part of her mother’s bridal trousseau from the 1930s. That’s a whole story unto itself, and I promise to share it later.

This Miami Football T-shirt is exceptional in part because it’s one of the few garments I’ve worn so much that it’s tattered. See the holes in the lower right corner? It’s a reminder of a golden season in our lives when our nephew was playing football for Miami University of Ohio.

Because of Steve, I know what it’s like to sit in the LSU stadium over the roar of fans screaming “Tiger bait! Tiger bait! Tiger bait!” For added emphasis, they parade a caged tiger in front of their opponents. Intimidating madness!

A week or so after that game, Steve’s picture appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, tackling Ohio State’s running back Ted Ginn—almost. We still revel in Steve’s 15 minutes of fame. More than that, we admire the way he powered his way onto the Miami team through hard work and grit.

I can’t look at this T-shirt without feeling wonderful—and not just because it celebrates one of everyone’s favorite style icons. Several years ago, my niece Whitney accompanied my husband and I to this exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. It was a fascinating retrospective of Jacqueline Kennedy’s wardrobe during the White House years. For context, each dress or suit was matched with correspondence that explained so much about how deliberate this woman was.

Funny thing: I think my husband enjoyed it as much as Whitney and I. He ushered us from place to place that weekend as if we were bone china. Other things I remember about that trip: we bought a prom gown, had high tea at The Drake and rode in an Amtrak sleeper car on the return from Chicago—a poor choice for my niece, who suffers from motion sickness. I never saw anyone so happy to arrive at their destination as she was the night we stepped off that train.

T shirt days
You’ve got to love those garments that remind you of life’s sweetest days. Tell me about your T-shirts! What stories do they tell?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.