I am spring cleaning and I’m realizing that I have a truly insane number of clothes that I only keep out of nostalgia. There’s a whole subsection of my wardrobe that’s just free souvenir t-shirts and hoodies. I have one from every job I’ve ever had and every important phase in my life.
My college hoodie: It is exactly what I wanted at the time - it is the right color, with the name of the college on it, but not our mascot, which was racist.
Clothing quality: Pretty good. It’s warm and has both a hood and a pocket. No zipper though, which is the trifecta of hoodie design.
Nostalgia factor: This hoodie is pretty ugly. I wanted it purely because everyone else had one, and I spent weeks looking for one that had sufficient school spirit without the grimacing Native American chief. This was difficult. In the end I spent a lot of money to get the least awful version of something that still isn’t a great fit, which is similar to my college experience.
Will I keep it: Probably. I feel an obscure sense of guilt toward my college. I never felt like I fit in that well there, and I feel bad that I was in a perfectly fun, cool place and couldn’t really enjoy it. Owning the hoodie makes me feel like I’m paying down some subtle debt of loyalty.
My bright red community theater Peter Pan shirt: I got this shirt when I played a monkey in a community theater production of Peter Pan. Looking back it was more a day camp than a theater. Every kid who auditioned got in. Most productions of Peter Pan don’t even have a “jungle animal chorus.”
Clothing quality: I’ve had this shirt since I was 8. At the time it went down past my knees; now, more than 20 years later, it’s only a little big on me. I wear it to bed a lot.
This shirt is bright red with black lettering. On the front is a silhouette of Peter Pan, and the name of the production (something like C-U Community Players no doubt - I grew up in Champaign-Urbana). On the back are the names of the 150-odd (like I said, everyone got in) members of the cast.
It’s in remarkably good condition. It’s not faded or frayed. For some reason, they bought us the Rolexes of souvenir shirts.
Nostalgia factor: High. This shirt is my only memento from the first play I was ever in. It led me to fall in love with the theater, which led me eventually to comedy, which led to eventually working at Funny Or Die.
It’s strange in the Facebook age to look at that cast list on the back. I know at least eight of those kids I sang about crocodiles are married, including my brother and sister. At least five have kids. Two are lawyers. One was named Miss America. One has died. One’s expecting a child.
Will I keep it: Yes.
T-shirts from my college theater groups: There are two of these.
Quality: One is pretty nice, the other one has a very strange pastel-pink-on-brown color scheme. But that one says “we argued over this shirt” on the back which is funny.
Nostalgia factor: Medium. Doing plays was my favorite thing about college. It was also the last time I spent much time onstage. I have so many play shirts though.
Will I keep them: I would keep one of them but that seems unfair, so I will throw away both of them.
My “Brooklyn” hoodie: I bought this when I first moved to New York. It’s brown with stitched black lettering.
Quality: Low. It’s thin, so not that warm. It’s got a zipper and pockets but no hood. Also it’s a man’s medium for some reason. I don’t like how it looks or feels on me.
Nostalgia factor: I loved Brooklyn so much. i didn’t know it was possible to love a place so much, to derive so much happiness just from the place that you lived. I would walk around Brooklyn on spring days and just want to cry with how glad I was to belong there.
Will I keep it: No, it’s really ugly.
Lime Wire hoodie: From the age of 20-24 I used to work for a sort of consortium of companies, of which Lime Wire was one. It was a great place to work. Good people. And I got a ton of free swag.
Quality: Good. We ordered American Apparel stuff.
Nostalgia factor: I didn’t really want to be a human resources recruiter (which was my job there), so this was a time of confusion for me - I thought maybe all adults just resigned themselves to working hard at jobs that weren’t really for them. I also had a desperate crush on one of my coworkers and couldn’t do anything about it. This was my “Girls” years - lots of crying in cabs and dating men with unsuitable facial hair.
Will I keep it: I have a half dozen or so. I will throw at least five away.
Upright Citizens Brigade Hoodie And T-Shirts: I got these for being a writer and teacher at a comedy theater, the Upright Citizens Brigade. That place is like home to me.
Nostalgia factor: UCB is where I learned to write, and where I’ve had the most fun of my life. It’s also how I got my current job. I once wrote a sketch about how we all look like a cult in our black hoods that say “Don’t Think” on the back, but the truth is I’m always proud to wear it and identify as one of those weird comedy nerds.
Will I keep them: I might throw one of the t-shirts away.
Funny Or Die hoodie: I got a gray hoodie for working here.
Nostalgia factor: I still work here, so low, for now. But in 20 years who knows.
Will I keep it: Yeah.
Truthfully I have like eight other shirts, but Indian food just got here. Goodbye.