Throughout high school, I never developed an affiliation with any college sports teams. With college admissions looking almost like a lottery today, I figured I wouldn’t risk the mild embarrassment of attending a rival school to my favorite team. After I decided to come to Stanford, however, I no longer needed to worry. By declining them, UT became my next-favorite college for graduating both of my sisters and many of my friends, and nearly me too. Oddly enough, my sisters together own less burnt orange than I do, with my wardrobe dominated by a Texas hoodie. That hoodie has seen me through so much from the day my sister got it for my birthday after graduating from high school until last Tuesday when it landed at the bottom of my hamper.
It’s not the first time it’s been washed, though it badly needs it for smelling like campfire. Worn thinner over 3 years, retirement seems best after I tore open part of the cuff while re-adjusting. I stood in the middle of my room with it in hand for several seconds, thinking about whether I should wear or give up on that hoodie. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and I knew I had to put it down. I don’t think I could stand to watch it fall to pieces.
Thinking back, though, it was always in shoddy condition. From the day I got it, the stitches were awful around the armpits and cuffs where it began to open. That poor workmanship did give me my first sewing lesson.
Even so, I always treasured it for its weather versatility and the many memories I have with it, direct and indirect. Strangers around campus would occasionally “Hook ‘Em,” to which I don’t I know how to respond. Just to feel special, I wore my Texas hoodie only at Stanford and my Stanford hoodie back in Texas. Even in the student section at football games, any fan could pick me out as the one burnt orange dot in a mass of cardinal red.
It wasn’t my first all-weather overgarment. From receiving it at the end of sophomore year until graduation, my high school letter jacket almost never left my side. I sized it slightly large to get the feeling I was living inside of my jacket and for it to be just like all of the letter jackets of the bigger upperclassmen. That jacket also has the memories it carried me through, but that tie was broken easily as soon as I graduated. I can’t remember if I had any lingering expectation of its warmth and comfort when the following opportunity to use it came, but I knew when it was done for.
My new hoodie is nice; it’s from my freshmen dorm and remained unworn for about 2 1/2 years in the shadow of my Texas hoodie. A hoodie is a hoodie, but it’s not. Having worn the other hoodie for so long, I immediately recognized the fuzziness of the inside, the slightly smaller stomach pocket, the looser hood string, and the wider head opening. Maybe it will soon mean something to me, but for now, it’s just a hoodie that I feel too guilty to never use completely.
Last quarter, a friend who I saw regularly saw me without my hoodie once when the weather turned nice, and he commented that he had never seen me without it on. For how little I concern myself with my attire, I’m impressed by how much of an impression my tendencies make on other people, whether it’s denim shorts at marching band rehearsal or a heavily faded burnt orange hoodie at all times. Clothes don’t make the man; I don’t define myself by this hoodie, but it matters. We cling to the pieces that become so regular in our lives, serious or silly, big or small. A hoodie is a hoodie, but it’s not. At least, not the way I wore it.