I have a Detroit Lions t-shirt that I absolutely love. I picked it up at a random garage sale or something about the same time that the team went 0-16, breaking many people’s hearts and thrilling some daredevil bettors in Vegas (I heard a story about somebody’s cousin who put $250 on that every year and when he got it right he was paid out $250,000. Believe what you will). After that season I wore the shirt close to religiously every Sunday in the hopes that a 100% losing season was never repeated. So far that seems to have worked. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right Bud Light?
Several seasons have gone by since then if you measure in football terms. That shirt has been laundered probably hundreds of times. It’s faded and there are holes in it that would make Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl whoopsie look like a g-rated moment. Okay, not really but it has grown embarrassing to wear even to sleep in. I’ve included a photo so you can see my exaggeration. Forgive me, I’m a writer and it’s our job to tell believable lies. So there.
I have officially decided to discard the shirt. Like oh my God, right? So now I’m in the market for a new shirt for football Sundays. My companion gifted me a Peyton Manning jersey for my birthday last year (which falls in October…) but the thought of that is difficult after the horrible choke job the team put on at the Super Bowl this year. And don’t you all be harping on Peyton because he was the QB. There were a few more men on that field besides him.
Side note: I told my companion it was unlikely Denver would win that. Peyton doesn’t come off of by-weeks very well but that’s a post for another time.
Now that I’ve made the decision I have to run through the memories that shirt bears. All of our clothes contain memories. The shirt you wore on the first date with the person you later married. What you were wearing when you scored the perfect job. What you wore the day you heard your grandparent had passed away.
Every time I washed that t-shirt I was washing away the memory of the losing season but I was also washing away/growing distant from the life that I was living at that time. For example I bought that shirt in Saginaw, Michigan. I am now living in a tiny town in Florida. I was working at a steak house (most excellent food, I stop in there when I go home to visit) and it was just before I began writing my first book – Extremity available on Amazon for Kindle. Now I’m working only for myself and I don’t dream of writing full time but I do it – Freedom’s Treasure and At Wit’s End, both available from Amazon for Kindle.
Every time that t-shirt was washed it took some added wear. Small tears appeared. The memories from Saginaw are fading slowly. When I looked at that t-shirt I didn’t see the tears and fades for quite a while. It didn’t seem new to me but it wasn’t a rag either. Now my fondness for Michigan remains strong. I don’t think as often about how much I hate the snow (well, I didn’t until recently), I miss the people that I thought were condescending jerks.
Today I saw the tears, the fades and the absolute need to finally let this shirt move on to the next stage in its life as I once needed to move on to mine. I did that when I started the next adventure in Florida. That losing season is far behind me now, behind all of us and it’s time to stop clinging to the tangible and intangible memories of it. Grow from the experience, of course, but the past is behind us for a reason.
Here’s hoping Stafford learned from his not so great seasons. By the way, it’s called discipline and you lack it, my friend. Go back to training camp and let them whup your ass around for a few weeks, you’ll get it. Until then stop acting as an elite QB, sitting in on coach interviews, good Lord.
Here’s hoping I learned from mine.