One afternoon in February, when I was still an intern and thus had free afternoons, I walked to the city center, ate a sandwich while I read a newspaper in a random cafe, and then I dedicated the rest of the noon to wander around the shops in Colón. For the first time in so many years, I hadn't to save for six months in order to buy a t-shirt. I simply could do it, and that was it. Of course, after so many hardships you end up scrutinising everything. At the end, my huge waste was only three garments. Maybe my elation manifested in the colours I chose: electric blue, intense green, and red. Then I found out this red jumper didn't really suit me: it was too tight for my tastes, so I always wore it underneath other clothes. I liked how it looked with the white sweater, or with the navy blue t-shirt which had a comic panel with a woman and a balloon that read "I don't love you". But other than that, I didn't really wear it that many times. Maybe the jumper felt outraged when I abandoned it, and decided to make me pay for it. I always had to remind myself of the buttons before removing the jumper. Else, they trapped my hair with fury, and I ended pulling my own hair in a cruel and unexpected manner. Passionate. Red, I guess. There was something more: the feel. The elastan that was meant to keep the cloth flexible also made it feel cool and humid, even if it was dry. A very unpleasant sensation. That very same elastan lost its composure when I moved to London and my clothes began to suffer the harshness of coin operated launderettes and their industrial machinery: the thirteen kilograms washing machine, the gigantic and very revolutionised drainer, and to top it all, the merciless drier. It just subtly let go of itself, it stopped properly hanging. Or rather: all of it was hanging, falling. It was a continuum of languid abandonment, where the collar was more of a wrinkle than of a proper fold.
Kukuxumusu t-shirts became trendy birthday presents in our faculty, and as I already had a t-shirt with a polka dots pattern, my friends thought this t-shirt would be an the ideal match for me. But that cow seemed too eye-catching to me at the beginning, so I was a bit reticent about wearing it. Then it slowly started growing on me, and I ended up using it more often. I even wore it when I visited Valencia months later, just in case I met the friends who gave it to me. But only one of them showed up, and she didn't even recognise the t-shirt. I will never find out if the other one remembered about the gift, but maybe it's better this way. English people found this t-shirt design very funny. And for some odd reason, they liked it even more when I told them that it was a mad cow. "A mad cow, a mad cow! Really?", they repeated, with hysterical laughter. I never understood it. Personally, it was a bit uncomfortable to wear this t-shirt in London, and even worse, in places frequented by Spaniards. It was like announcing my origin to all and sundry, and for a person who prefers to keep a low profile like me, it was an unpleasant and uncontrollable way to ignite conversations with strangers who identified the t-shirt source. So at the end I always wore it underneath a jumper, while it lost its colour and grams of cotton per square centimetre with each wash and dry cycle. Talking about losing, it has even lost the threads in some seams. From madness--to exhibitionism.
No matter how hard I try, I can't quite recall when did I get this one. I can only remember the year --2000--, some time between January and March, because I already had it by Fallas (they are celebrated around the 19th of March in Valencia). It was on the short side right from the beginning, so after each wash, and before hanging it, I stretched it so that it got its shape back (and with a faint hope that it would somehow grow, thanks to the stretchings), but it was all in vain. It stayed on the same size, so I always wore a strap vest that I really liked, and was quite a bit longer, underneath this one. Moving to London didn't really do it any good. There, it shrank it until it reached a point in which no amount of violent stretching could bring it back to a comfortable size. And as I don't expect myself to shrink on the foreseeable future, I thought it would be better if we parted ways.
I was given this one when we attended Pixel Attack in Valencia, in 2008. I started drawing again the next year--and painting with indian ink, the type that can't be erased. As I was scared of staining my clothes, I always wore this t-shirt on top. It seemed very appropriate to me to wear a t-shirt from an art festival when making art! Although since the orange letters were so boldly orange, I reversed the t-shirt, so that its extraordinary glow wouldn't distract me when painting my faint and pale watercolours. With the seams inside out, it turned to be a very particular apron.
This was probably one of the oldest garments I kept (or treasured!). And they weren't even mine initially. My mum, sister and me bought three shorts the same day, in the same shop. A pair for each one, each pair different, but all of them inspired by the same sailing theme that ruled the minds of the designers that devised that collection. Mine were in navy blue, and had the sentence "Barco de Vela" (_Sailing boat_) printed in a white script face, covering their entire surface, with the text alternating between being face up and face down, in a way that felt hypnotic. My sister's were beige, with a small boat and the label --of course, "Barco de Vela"-- embroidered below it. My mum's were the ones in the drawing. But the first time she washed them, even before she got to use them for the first time, they shrank, and as they would be too large for my sister, I inherited them. It was such a disaster at the beginning. The inside of the legs pulled upwards as I walked. I could never quite figure out why did that happen, but it was certainly very uncomfortable. I had to keep pulling the legs downwards, discreetly, every x steps, so during that time I rather preferred "my" shorts. Later, they started to loosen, they stopped pulling upwards, and soon they became my favourite ones, because mine, which were actually more like a split-skirt, weren't practical for certain activities, such as riding a bike. I wore these everywhere. For going to the uni when revising exams, or when I went to check the results that apparently would never be published; to the beach, the countryside, or simply for surviving those 35ºC summers. And as back then I favoured cold colours, these shorts matched with everything I owned: blue, green, or blue or green (maybe some grey). When I moved to London, with a diminished clothes array, they became my occasional pyjamas and also half of my pseudo two pieces dressing gown for going to the bathroom in that shared flat. They took up very little space on the suitcase, and could be hung from a couple of weak, frail hooks that held the bathroom doorchain in place. They also saw a lot from the city: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St. James's Park, Hampstead Heath, maybe Battersea Park too... Everything had something to do with summers, green grass, good times--they certainly couldn't complain! But that didn't end there: I also brought them to Formentera. And Minorca. But they already were in a calamitous state at that point; the elastic band was just a memory from the past, and the navy blue was nothing more than a thinned down wash, turned into a cloudy grey instead. Now retired from public life, I definitively reconverted them into pyjama trousers, or for crafts time. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about paint stains. But the elastic band --or rather the lack of it-- played dirty tricks on me. If I inadvertently placed something on the pocket, I would soon find the trousers way below my hips. A hole opened up in one of the pockets. The hems started to fray. They thinned down, until they were almost transparent. It was time to wave my warmest goodbye to them, in memory of all those good moments we spent together.
This was one of the two vests which I equipped myself with right before moving to London. I had the (correct) intuition that it would be a good idea to use vests there, unlike in Valencia, where I condemned my one and only vest to oblivion immediately after winter started. For just eight euros (both of them, on sale, of course), I had such high hopes. "Cold? Me? Never!", I reminisced to myself as I placed them in the suitcase, evoking that ad from yesteryear. Things happened in a different way. Although the vests seemed very warm when I tried them on back in September in sunny Valencia, all my hopes were destroyed when the first stormy week reached London. The wind was cold and humid, biting. It cut through my innocent denim jacket, and through my sweater, and the vest, which was my last hope, left me unprotected against that merciless attack. Once I had become disheartened, it was easy to start disliking the garment. It's not like it tried to be worth of my praises anyway: the seams initiated an strange maneuver in which apparently they tried to twist around the vest, in such a way that the left side seam moved forward, and the right side seam tried to move full speed right behind me, one could say that chasing --or maybe escaping from-- the other one. Of course, that operation didn't accomplish anything other than annoying me, specially each time that, being in front of a mirror, I saw those asymmetric seams twisting around me. I pulled and put them back to their proper place, with a surly gesture and a reproach, but it was hopeless. As soon as I stopped paying attention, they continued carrying their absurd practises on. And to top all that nonsense, a very generous and naive application of an own brand deodorant derived in two yellowish stains under the armpits. This was the end of its public life, and the start of its perennial confinement under other clothes.
October of 2005. It was an extremely rainy evening in London, and had it been by me only, I would have gone straight home after work, but I wasn't going to delay yet another week without buying a proper pair of boots. I had had enough cold feet already! And to my surprise, I solved the job pretty quickly: I got out of the tube, walked a couple of blocks --against hordes of people walking out of their offices and towards Oxford Circus to catch their tube home--, and found a shoe shop with nice boots and reasonable prices. Then of course, once you're on the shopping mindset, you can't stop. Back then we lived in Notting Hill, so I decided I would walk until the next Central Line stop (Bond Street, instead of Oxford Circus) and have a look at the shops I found on the way there. I ended up in a Zara with sports department (very strange back then), and there, on the first floor, I found this absurd t-shirt. After all those years, I still don't quite know what it attempted to depict. A woman sits, smiling, and two hairdressers stand on her sides, grimly hinting at a smile, while the sitting woman daydreams with a sort of picnic box, but with hairdressing accessories instead of the classic dishes and cutlery sets. And what are the other two laughing about? Are they smiling, or are them giving her a bad time, and she secretly wishes she had one of those hairdressing kits for doing her own _coiffure_ and avoid the martyrdom that this sinister couple is infringing on her...? Ah, well, I think the fun of this t-shirt resides in its ambiguity, although I'm not quite sure if it's designed that way or it's just a very fortunate accident. The best part of it all is that the illustration can't really be seen that well. It could, at the beginning, of course, but the hard London washing regime diminished its contrast and definition pretty quickly. It didn't bother me too much; since it had such a neutral colour and was relatively loose, I ended up using it as a wildcard. On its own, over a long sleeves shirt, with a jumper... everything worked. The illustration didn't matter. Once again, it got ruined because of cheap deodorant. It got the classic armpit stains, and they wouldn't go away, no matter how much I manually cleaned them. This forced me to use the t-shirt as a simple vest. And then one day, in Spain and with a different washing powder, the dark stains went away... and were replaced with two _whiteish_ stains! It was all very odd, and also very coherent with the ambiguity surrounding this t-shirt.
I got this one the last time I shopped for underwear in Oysho, before switching to Marks & Spencer and etc. for good. It was all nice at the beginning, but it started degenerating with each wash. While clothes, generally speaking, tend to shrink, what happened with this one is that it started stretching, which is something that one doesn't want to happen in a garment which is meant to hold things. It was as if it was growing, and each time I put it on, it had grown yet another extra size. The matching knickers, on the other hand, took a totally opposite path. Instead of growing, they shrank, which made them very uncomfortable as well. I waved goodbye to them first, because of their ingratitude. Now it's the time to say goodbye to the bra...
There was a time in which I was fixated on clothes with "Japanese" texts. And that is quoted because probably in most of the cases the only Japanese thing were the characters: whoever designed the t-shirt simply chose the ones that he found more aesthetically pleasing, and the text itself didn't have any particular meaning. But when I bought this t-shirt I didn't made that consideration. I just went with the aesthetics flow and didn't think twice about that, although I bought it at the end of the warm station, and when the cold arrived I stored the t-shirt until the next year. During that autumn and winter I became aware of the huge cultural diversity that existed in London, and therefore realised that there was an extremely high probability of encountering someone that could read what was written in my clothes. What if it was an obscenity? What if I was offending Japan each time I wore that t-shirt? It gave me the creeps. And I had stopped liking that pseudo-oriental aesthetic anyway, so I didn't use the t-shirt again. But before giving it away I decided to take advantage of the power of the Internet, uploading a picture of the t-shirt and asking my contacts for help in identifying the message on it. Several Japanese mates examined it, surprised and confused, trying to decipher what could that word mean, with no luck... because it didn't say anything. It was all nonsense. All my insecurities disappeared. I slept so pleased and calm that night...! Japan wasn't angry with me.
It was pretty tight from the beginning, but trying to fit inside this t-shirt became harder after each wash. It was an absolute contortionist challenge. I felt like Houdini trying to escape from an oppresive knot of chains and locks, but in the exact opposite way: trying to fit into that apparently harmless garment that oppressed me, lacerating my muscles and cutting my circulation off. Each time I put it on, my arms were stiff for a couple of days after. But sometimes one will do whatever it takes in order to enjoy something... And what I enjoyed, and certainly a lot, were the colours, that contrast between blue and yellow, and the happy flip-flops, as a cheerful reminder of holidays and disconnecting from the unstoppable machinery that modern life is about. But once again, as I become conscious of the silliness of the message in the t-shirt and its more than probable grammatical errors, I avoided wearing it while in London. It wasn't as if the weather made things easy in order to wear sleeveless clothes either! So at the end I just wore it when we went to the beach in Spain, where children wear t-shirts with horrific and degrading messages and no one does even raise an eyebrow, because they aren't really aware of what is happening. So compared with t-shirts that proclaim that the small girl who's wearing them is a dirty and vicious prostitute, mine was quite naive, albeit very silly too.
Here's the twin sister of the whiteish vest with armpit stains. Although they were, in principle, equal (colour aside), this one didn't evolve into such an annoying state as the white vest: the seams stayed in their place, and I didn't stain it with deodorant. But it wasn't really warm, and it also shrank a bit. Not too much, but enough to miss the traditional looseness sensation that a vest provides. At the end I always used it underneath other clothes, specially combined with the "I don't love you" t-shirt. It was hard to match this shade of blue with other colours, so I ended up using this one only as a replacement for when the red jumper with buttons wasn't clean.
Once I saw how little efective the vests I had brought were against the September cold in London, I used a quick trip to Barcelona at the beginning of October to buy this jacket, in an equally fast operation: entering the shop, locating the jacket, trying it on and concluding that it was great. It was lightweight, seemed warm and even more, it had a hood! And it could be removed! On the next day, back in London already, the autumn sun was gilding the streets. It was such an idyllic vision, but the cold I had caught in _the continent_ insisted in reminding me that it wasn't gold all that glittered. So I used the jacket for the first time to visit the Boots of Kilburn High Street and buy paracetamol, and then do the weekly wash in the laundry, because back then we didn't own a washing machine. It was a dreamy afternoon, something almost delirious. It was probably an effect of the analgesic combined with my increasing fever, but I went all the way back from Kilburn gazing at Queen's Park in the distance and with "It's grim up north" from The JAMS stuck in my head. I was surely influenced by the damp shade that the still leafy trees along the street created. And the time I spent sitting in the window ledge in front of the washing machine and seeing our clothes going round and round had something hypnotic; it was almost like a trance. Meanwhile, the grumpy old lady that was in charge of the laundry was abnormally talkative and friendly, and she was telling me about her upcoming holidays in Benidorm, while I nodded and smiled without really understanding all that she was telling me, and without being able to stop thinking for a minute that her specs were exactly like the ones that Sophia, the old grandma in "The Golden Girls" wore. Could it be her? Little could I imagine back then that this jacket would travel quite a bit. It started with New Year's Eve in Southbank, right under the shadow of the London Eye, dodging revelers spraying us with champagne (or some other cheap sparkling wine: maybe cava?). It also survived two Breakpoint demoparties in Germany, and even travelled to such diverse places as Oxford, Bath and Seville. It was very practical, because if the need arised, it could always be folded several times until it fitted inside a bag: fantastic to avoid bringing it to the cloakroom, which is always a bore. But it had a drawback, that didn't take me long to discover: it was a calamity when it poured with rain. Fortunately that didn't happen too often, but when it did, I always ended with wet back and arms. Water seeped through each of the seams, seeped along the linen and finally slipped inside. It was so mean, so petty. On the other hand, either it was losing fiber with washes, or I was losing fat, but I felt colder and colder with this jacket. So it ended up relegated to warmer times in which it didn't rain, which turned it into _the lightweight jacket_, to finally evolve into _the quite old jacket that I don't wear anymore_ later on.
Someone bought this t-shirt, or was given it, but was too small for her, so she gave it to me, so that maybe I would be able (or want) to use it. I said yes, without really looking at it. A year after that, I finally looked at it, and I decided that it really wasn't my style: sequin and silver nonsense texts in English? I'd rather not: my logical mind couldn't stand to consciously walk around with such a confusing display. So I've never used it.
I had a pair of sneakers from 1998 that I hardly used at the beginning, as they were stiff and hurt my feet. But as time passed they softened and took the shape of my feet. At the end I loved them: they were super comfy! It was a pity that it was exactly then when the sole began to deteriorate. I started to think that I'd have to replace them, and I actually spent two years telling to myself that I would totally do it. A little after that, I bought another pair of sneakers, but I kept using these, until the day in which I almost tripped over and fell when going out of the tube, as the sole got separated from the shoe as it bumped into a stair step. That midday I made a quick visit to a shoe shop in Camden High Street. In only fifteen minutes, and thanks to the kind help from an efficient shop assistant, I had new sneakers. But I liked the old ones so much that I went back with them still on --being careful to avoid tripping over anything else--, as a manner of farewell to them. You can't forget almost ten years of loyalty in a whim. I (we) saw the world with the new ones. Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Seville, Frankfurt... They were great because they weren't too cold, neither too hot, and were loose enough to allow for thick socks to be used without oppressing the feet. But they had a problem. After a couple of months of owning them, I accidentally stepped over a puddle, and as I was fully convinced that the thick sole would protect and isolate me, I didn't care much about it. What a disappointment when I suddenly noticed my foot getting wet! It seemed so odd that I thought it was just sweat. Just like that! But not, it was water from the puddle, which apparently seeped through some gap between the sole and the shoe, brutally destroying my invulnerability against liquid masses illusion. They were a sift, even though in disguise. With the problem in mind, I made sure to not to put my foot in. Literally!
It was one of my favourite t-shirts, and furthermore it was one of the first t-shirts that I bought online, as I was fed up with the ultra expensive t-shirts with ugly designs (or stolen designs from independent authors) that were sold in high street shops. I ordered this one, along with three more tees, in a USA website, and I totally forgot about that. I reckoned it would take at least one month, so I preferred to not to get anxious about it. Then on a Friday, two weeks later, I was walking back from work, happily strolling along Regent's Park while testing my new sneakers. It was a beautiful Spring afternoon; a gentle breeze brought the perfume of young flowers and danced with the dandelion seeds, while I --as usual-- got lost at the end of the park and confused one path with another one, ending in St. John's Wood instead of Great Portland Street. Although my initial aim was to walk all the way home, I finally took the tube in Baker Street, as I didn't want to hurt my feet. What I nice surprise when I arrived home and found the t-shirts in the post box! The great thing about being small is that four t-shirts aren't bulky at all, and the postman can easily deliver them with the rest of the envelopes: you don't need to go to the post office to pick the package. And this was the first t-shirt from the package that I put on. The people noticed it; most of them got the joke instantly. Others said that the time on the alarm clock was wrong, that it should have displayed "13:37" instead of "7:37". I really didn't care about that. For once, I was wearing a t-shirt with an English message without errors, which was funny too!
Back in 2003 they seemed like a good idea. It was all very exotic and modern, with the asimmetry that those ethnic motifs awarded, as they were painted in one of the legs only. But I didn't deem myself able to wear them in winter; they didn't seem to fit with the austerity of cold months to me. Then I got my belly piercing done, and that was when I never wore them again, as the waist was way too high, and I feared that they could make me feel uncomfortable, or even worse, that they could get stuck with the piercing (gulp!) Before they were exiled, they had their spotlight moment: they appeared on TV! A local station was interested in learning about our experience organising if03, the demoparty in Valencia's Polytechnic University, so I ended up in a TV studio with Manuel Toharia (director of Valencia's Science Museum) and Belinda Galiano (co-organiser of Campus Party, which used to be held at the Museum back then). To be honest, it was all quite a weird experience. I went through all the preparatory make up process and the explanation as to how the interview was going to be conducted, the microphone was set up and we tested the audio; and I followed the rest of preceptive ritual steps to the letter, to finally end up saying only a couple of sentences right before Belinda and Manuel continued fighting for the largest share of microphone time with the presenter. That's how TV works, I guess!
I bought them in 2004, a little after and in the same shop that I had bought another pair of jeans that I loved. But while I wore the latter a lot, so many, many times, that I got rid of them years ago already, that didn't happen with these. Although they were the same size, thanks to those paradoxes of modern sizing and stiffing, these felt a bit tighter, and they also hinted at a sort of bell-bottom that got me nervous some days, by simply thinking of it. As they were a little bit thinner than normal jeans also, I felt cold with them in London, and I didn't wear them that much, so their useful life has been longer than that from its contemporary peers. But finally, after using them once here, once there, there some areas have been worn out, some embroidery in the back pockets has been totally lost, and the lower hems have become fray as well.
I experienced a horrid heat in my feet when I visited Formentera with leather sneakers, so before going to Minorca I decided to get a pair of canvas sneakers. I made another quick visit to the Camden shoe shop at lunch time, and I came back with these in little more than twenty minutes. I chose them in grey because I thought that this way they wouldn't get as dirty as the white ones, and furthermore they would be more neutral than the usual blue or red ones. The only clothes that I didn't like wearing them with were black trousers. I had the feeling that my feet were in a cast! They quickly became one of my favourite summer garments, and I would say they even defined my style--up to a point. If I put them on and didn't feel cold in my feet, it was like a confirmation that the good weather had finally arrived to London (at least, for a couple of hours). Although they had a bit of bad luck too: every time I cleaned them, it started pouring with rain, and they ended up even dirtier than before. This happened often when I was in the middle of a park, or in wide streets without places to get shelter and without buses. It was something that deserved an Appendix to _Murphy's Law_. But despite their apparent bad fate, I wore them everywhere. Because not only did we visit Minorca; these ones actually went round the world: from London to Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, San Francisco, New York and back to London. Although this last big journey killed them off: the insides were totally consumed by the rubbing between feet and shoe, and the heel was so worn out that you could perfectly feel the curve in the heel when you placed the foot on the floor. It was like walking on the edge of a kerb, so I replaced them with another pair of sneakers a little while after that. Although I still didn't get rid of these yet: I reserved them for domestic stuff. That way I wouldn't have to worry about paint stains or corrosive stuff. Two moves, and a wardrobe and several painted rooms after, I think it's about time they get retired, although not before thanking them for their faithfulness.