Of Sweatshirts, Paint, and the Familiar

The other day I was goofing off. I got home, took off my sweatshirt and swung it around like a lasso, before tossing it onto the couch. (I think many of you have done this at some point.) Only when I picked up the sweatshirt later, I realized that my little mindless stunt had torn a big hole in one of the sleeves. Large enough to render the garment basically worthless. I could still wear it, but the torn fabric would be dangling all the time, and that would get on my nerves. So, I managed to ruin my own favorite sweatshirt.

Actually, it is my only sweatshirt at the moment. Mom thinks she might be able to sew it, but the point is, it is my only sweatshirt. As of next month, I will have had it for three years. More than one person, my mother included, has told me that this is about one year longer than anybody should expect to have the same sweatshirt anyway.

True, the once deep blue of the fabric has faded to a dull blue-gray. Tiny holes have developed in it here and there. Just last month I managed to stain it with food. The majority of people I know would have replaced it a while back. Yet I rarely spend money on clothing, outside of socks and undergarments. (Even when I have extra money, which isn’t often.) I keep the same clothes for years and years. Even if I had plenty of money to do so, I doubt I would buy a new wardrobe every few months.

You see, my sweatshirt was still comfortable, and still kept me warm on chilly days after three years of ownership. Ergo, I wore it everywhere during the colder times of the year. Not a uniform per se, but if ever I were at a friend’s house and left it there, there would be little question as to who it belonged to. People are probably used to seeing me in it. The same with other clothes.

It’s not that I fear change. (In this regard, anyway.) Nor am I making some kind of statement by wearing the same clothes for years. When I am gifted new clothing, I am perfectly capable of liking something new. (Indeed much of my new clothing over the years has been from other people. Which I will then wear for years after the fact.) But as I said, if something is working, I don’t tend to go out of my way to change it for the sake of change. I don’t know what it says about me. I don’t have a diagnosis. And in some areas I very much long for variety. Yet in other areas, like clothing, food, to a large extent music, I just don’t change often.

Many people do. Most, in fact. When I tell people I have listened to some of the same albums since I was seven years old, or that the shirt I am wearing has been around for five years, they think I am joking. Once they believe me, they explain how they would feel trapped if they did that. They extol the importance of “remaking” themselves. Getting new shirts, pants, dresses, hats, albums, diets, (in rare cases, boyfriends…) every two months or so. Not to mix in with their old stuff, but to replace it. My mind spins at the idea of having to get used to a new wardrobe every eight weeks. And getting rid of the old music to which I listen would be impossible. Even as I do discover new music periodically, and embrace it.

Change for its own sake. It’s not usually my thing.

Though this week I have done it a bit, believe it or not. As I mentioned the other day, I am going to have to move into my mother’s home for awhile again. But I have spent the last few days painting that bedroom. The same room I lived in for years during college. (The same room that looked of course mostly the same for years.) I up and decided to paint it. Totally different color. A light greenish, which they say stimulates reading and writing, by the way. I also plan to have different furniture in there when I move back in. Same space, different room. Perhaps being away from it for these years has made me less attached to it. As has the fact that it has been several things in my absence. Or perhaps I am just ready for something new in this crossroads era of my life. The room will hopefully reflect more of what I am now.

This is a big decision for a guy who is not always demonstrative outside of his writing. And there is little fear of me becoming the guy who never wears the same shirt twice. I’ll always be content to leave some things the same far beyond the point that others think I should. Yet a little paint, and a lot less stuff in a space may just be the catalyst for a perspective shift that I quite need in the coming months. We will see.

How often to you change the outward expressions of yourself?


  1. I do love new clothes and accessories, and tend to look at new items as an outward expression of who I am as a person. (And who I am as a person is always naturally evolving.)

    But I also get attached to things, and wear my old stuff into the ground. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

    (Also, I shop a lot less since I became committed to eliminating my credit card debt. It'll finally be gone by the end of 2011.)

    This also makes me think of how I run my cars into the ground.

    My first car was a hand-me-down from my mom, and I drove it until it stopped running.

    I've had my second car for over eight years, and it's been through a lot. It was broken into when I had it parked in the city (back window smashed in, and driver's side door handle / lock mangled). Another time, its windshield was cracked by a pebble as I was driving on the highway. I eventually had to replace the entire windshield. There's a dent in the back bumper from someone who obviously hit and run while it was parked (jerk). And it even stalled in the middle of a flash flood! (I was actually floating, and the inside of the car filled with water up to the seats. That was a couple years ago, and I'm amazed the mechanic got it up and running again after that.)

    It's not the prettiest car in the world, and the temperature control sometimes makes strange noises… but it gets me where I need to go!

  2. I wholly approve of the room color… not that you need my approval haha. Green is one of my favorite colors.

    I don't shop for new clothes too often. I actually dislike shopping quite a bit, believe it or not. And a lot of the clothing items that I do buy on a whim aren't the type meant for public consumption…

    Probably the biggest outward expression of myself that changes with any frequency is my hair. It's really curly and I refuse to take the time to blow dry and flat iron, so style options are kind of limited. I'll go short, then grow it long again, then cut it short again. And I like to change the color a lot. I'm with Steph – who I am is constantly evolving, so my outward expressions of that change as well, but I often manage to adapt past items (clothing, etc.) to fit the new expression.

    On the flip side, I also love to experiment with outward appearances like clothes and hair because I know that what I wear or look like isn't *who* I am. In high school one of my friends commented on my outfit one day, saying that I was always in something different – hippie chick one day, goth girl another day. I wore what I wanted and felt like that day, and it didn't matter what anyone thought about it, because I knew I wasn't a stereotype. That's one thing I don't think my dad ever got – that when I dyed my hair, or got my eyebrow pierced, or did any of the other things he didn't understand me wanting to do, it was because I wanted to do it to please myself, not to play to anyone's expectations.

    My husband is a lot like you with clothes. I don't think he'd have anything new if I and other people never bought him clothes lol.

  3. Both of you do seem to have a higher level of outward expression, via clothing and such, than I do. This doesn't bother me, and I have experimented with same myself. I think I look good in a variety of clothing. Yet in the end, my minimalist nature my preclude me for experimenting much.

    Also, the truth is, I am not out socializing very often. If I am going shopping, I am going shopping, and I don't much care about self expression then. I care about being clean, but that's about it. I carry what I am within me.

    Maybe because I have found that no level of outward self expression has really made an impression on the world around me. I tend to blend in regardless of what I do, so I opt for the path of least resistance.

    Another aspect of this I have thought about; I don't know if I am as adept at making a mental connections between what I am, and what I present from an appearance/image standpoint. As in, even if I define myself a certain way I have no concept of what specific clothing, hair style or walk would best express same. I just sort of exist within my head, and dress up on the few nights I go out. But it is more of an intellectual understanding of what “dressing up” is than a chance to reflect what I am.

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