I’m about to move in a week and a half. I’m leaving Hawaii and moving to Virginia. Moving can be sad, but it can also be a time to take stock. It’s a time for renewal. A time to see what excess weight you’re carrying that can afford to be shed.
Sometimes those decisions are easy. Old Tupperware with stains? Toss. Old DVD player that was sitting in a cobweb-covered box in the garage for four years? Toss. But what happens when you see something that is clearly old and in disrepair, but means so much to you?
That happened when I was going through some old bins and found my 2005 National Championship shirt.
It’s a long-sleeve, not needed much in Hawaii. You can see that the paint has faded with time and hundreds of wash cycles. The collar has frayed and the sleeves have lost elasticity, giving me an Austin Powers-type appearance at the wrists. It’s clearly time to cut ties and replace it with something new.
I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away though. There’s history there.
When I was a student at Carolina, I got a job as a cashier at the UNC Student Store. My first training day was on Monday, April 4th, 2005. That night, Roy Williams and Sean May led the Tar Heels to victory over a hyper-talented Illinois squad to bring home Roy’s first national championship, and UNC’s fifth. The next morning, my first day as a non-trainee cashier, chaos descended upon the Student Store.
We had ALL THE MERCHANDISE. T-shirts, hats, pennants, coffee mugs, pint glasses, you name it. I worked a 7-11am shift and I always had a customer in front of me. The line never got shorter. Folks were buying up everything we had. This was 2005, so we didn’t have nearly the amount of payment options that are available today, but I saw everything that a new cashier could possibly see in the age of Motorola Razr. Cash, credit card, gift card, personal checks... it was nuts.
At the end of my shift, I descended into the chaos myself and picked out my white, Nike long-sleeve shirt. I wore it all the time on campus. Then I wore it in Texas where I worked my first job. As time passed, it transitioned from a showpiece shirt to a workout shirt. I took it skiing to use as a base layer. After growing ever so soft from so many washings, it took its final form as a sleep shirt. Eventually, it got pushed to the back of the dresser drawer and was rarely seen. 2005 was a long, long time ago.
But I couldn’t just throw it away ignominiously. That shirt was precious to me, and it deserved a dignified exit from my wardrobe, and my life. To that end, I took it on a hike on the east coast of Oahu. It protected my arms from the sun, and the white cotton kept me cool. We gazed at perfect, blue Pacific Ocean together. We saw reef breaks tumble white mist into the air. Powerful wind from the east pressed my shirt into my chest, bringing us closer together. It was the best way to say goodbye.
Have you had to say goodbye to precious Tar Heel memorabilia? If so, share with me in the comments below! We can commiserate together.