To the faded red button-up coated in white hibiscus flowers:
I saw you idly sitting on a shelf, some guy in a polo giving you a second glance. I watched, desperately hoping he’d walk away. When he did, I tried to act cool as I speed walked over. You were the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. You were perfect
$6.50 down the drain and you were sitting in my closet. A bright red stain stark against the mass of my otherwise dark clothes. I quickly realized how much I wanted your color to spread to the rest of them. I had found my first love.
To the Captain America shirt I wore every weekend for six months:
I’d lost the anonymity of black. Still, there was shelter in your generality, sealed by a peeling, boyish design. That’s how I wanted all my clothes to be. I wanted people to see me and immediately know, even if I was only ever a Spider-Man kind of guy. Now, you sit in the back of my closet. I’ve grown out of the need to prove myself so vehemently.
To my worn suit jacket:
I had spent hours at the mall, dragging friends from store to store. My feet were sore from the laps we’d just done around the building, and as a last-ditch effort, we walked into the rotting remains of a dying Sears. Just as we were about to give up, I saw you (and your low price tag). I knew I’d finally found what I came for.
My heart raced the whole car ride. As soon as I was home I tried you on, and something really weird happened. I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked in the mirror, at your too-long sleeves and the way you boxed my shoulders, and I actually saw myself. It was jarring.
As I was gearing up to leave for Cotillion, my dad asked me why. I wouldn’t answer that question. Not yet. I stuttered out some half baked lie, reveling in the quiet drive to school.
To the white button-down covered in blue feathers:
You were once just a random shirt I threw into my bag for the beach. It was complete chance I wore you to that late-night bonfire. The hours ticked by, and everyone else trickled inside until it was just me and my dad.
After I was thoroughly drunk on my exhaustion, he would finally find out he had another son. There was a moment after when the relentless slapping of the tides on the shore was deafening, but soon he hugged me, and I realized he had known for a long time.
Only when the weight of my secret had been lifted off did I realize just how massive it had been. That night, after having just heaved the contents of myself onto the surf, I couldn’t do anything but stare at the stars. This was the turning point. The reality of what I’d just accomplished was slowly starting to hit me, and for the first time in the months since I’d found a word for my identity, I cried. You bore witness.
To the box of bleach and hair dyes on my floor:
You were a new start. So many things in my life were changing and it felt right to combat that with a change I was in control of. I had grown so much, but there was one constant—my thick dark brown hair.
In one of my better impulsive decisions, I dug through some boxes in my parent’s room and found some leftover bleach. I carefully brushed it on, and after a few cycles of bleaching and toning, I saw the final product, my hair dry and dead, and knew I’d done the right thing.
To my pink-tinted sunglasses shaped like hearts:
I think that if I’d seen you any sooner in my life I would’ve kept walking. I can’t see the person I was wearing something so flamboyant and pink. I used to think care so much about what people saw.
However, the clothes I wear have evolved into a form of expression rather than a defense mechanism. If I walk into the world wearing oversized heart glasses and a bright, clashing outfit to boot, people smile. I look chaotic and stupid and that’s fun. Even if it’s not the look I’ve been trained to think a guy should wear, because being a dude isn’t an outfit, or a personality, or repressed tears. We make our own definitions (and I plan to do that in the most colorful way possible).