At the beginning of the winter when I went through my drawers I realized that I really only had a few comfortable casual long sleeved black shirts. Which is to say I realized I only had a few long sleeved shirts because most of my shirts are black. I mean I have things with polkadots on them but those are mostly for work. I have polka dots to fight decision fatigue, because I like them, and to make me easy to find in a crowd at work functions.
Just look for Cami. She’s the one with black hair, tattoos, and polka-dots.
Back to the point. I had very few long sleeved shirts that were made for just being home and lounging. I had conference t-shirts and hoodies and sweaters but there is something to be said for throwing on a long sleeved black top and a pair of jeans or yoga pants and then sauntering out to your desk to work.
As we were already deep in the pandemic by this point–and I was deep in my pandemic weight gain–my clothing options were even more limited. So I decided to treat myself to a few long sleeved cozy black shirts. Normally, I would walk into the gooey center of my sweet little neighborhood and shop for something from the resale/consignment shop. Or stroll across to one of the sweet boutiques that sells ethically made clothes and has too many scarves and earrings and pick something up. Or even to the local sporting clothes store to pick something up there if my other local options didn’t yield positive results.
But we’re in a pandemic so I didn’t do all that. I swallowed my guilt and ordered a bunch of reasonably priced black cotton shirts that I was unsure of from a giant conglomerate of money and goods. Because at the moment that is all I felt I had the bandwidth, money, and energy to do.
Two of the shirts I ordered I was, admittedly, pretty excited about. They were both black (surprise) waffle-weave all cotton shirts with cowl-neck collars. One was fancy longer in the back than the front. Like a mullet but to cover my pandemic ass. The other was a standard hip length. And when they got here I thought they were fine. They were whatever. I put them on and I was fine for the 6.2 seconds I tried them on. So I threw them in the wash and then in the dryer and when I went to wear one of them I realized that I was being strangled to death by my new shirt. Had it been like this when I tried it on? Was I an idiot? Did it shrink? I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t escape. I was TRAPPED.
And when I say I was being strangled to death what I mean is that the shirt was touching my neck. All the way around it. And though it was loose and I could most certainly physically breath I actually can’t stand the feeling of clothes touching me sometimes and in some places. Turtleneck shirts have always, and I mean always, been a huge problem for me. There is something about them that triggers a panic response in me and I just can’t breathe.
I also can’t stand the feeling of tags touching me from inside shirts or pants and I can’t wear skirts because they’re too tight at the waist and I always feel like they’re twisting and bunching up and I will wind up wearing them like a belt. Dresses and pants are fine.
I’m sure I was super fun to dress as a child.
But this cowl-neck shirt which I was so excited about, it was just a fancy word for a turtleneck noose. And so it sat in a drawer with its friend the other turtleneck noose shirt and went unworn. On a couple of occasions I tried to stretch the hell out of it to see if it would do any good. If maybe I could possibly wear this fucking shirt that I bought. But to no avail. The two sat unloved. Unworn. But occasionally they would make their way into the dirty laundry somehow. I’m just not that great a housekeeper.
And that is why they sat neatly folded on the trunk at the foot of my bed this morning begging to be worn. This morning after I showered and put on my jeans and my under things and my socks I walked out into the common space and sat at my desk with one of those shirts in my left hand and a pair of scissors in my right hand. And I cut that cowl-neck right off of my damn shirt.
Snip. Snip. Tear. Snip.
I sighed. I didn’t know in the moment if it was a sigh of relief or a sigh of defeat. But after sipping the coffee my partner handed me I pulled the shirt over my head and wriggled into it. It feel lightly off one shoulder. It did not touch my neck. And it felt right. And I felt right.
I took a selfie to send to a few friends and it was then that I realized that in my 40s I had been defeated by something old-school Cami would never have let get her down. I realized that my little punk goth self would have cut that collar out the second the shirt landed in my hands and worn it every single day until the threads were a mere suggestion of a shirt.
So here’s to welcoming back that little punk ass goth chick I was when I was 16. The one who knew what to do with a pair of scissors. The one who was strong in the face of what scared her. Which was like… everything.
The one who wrote poetry and sat on the roof burning incense in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep.
The one who wanted the tattoos that I now have. Who wore too many rings and smiled as she listened to music and the wind in the trees.
Welcome back punk-ass-goth-chick Cami. I’m buying you a nicer pair of scissors.