The old green Nike shirt laid inconspicuous in the drawer when I opened it. A present given to me many years ago by my former girlfriend V, on my 24th birthday. It included at the time a stuffed brown bear wearing a beige sweater inside a big clear decorated star balloon. I remember getting a kick out of the story how they got the bear inside the big fantasy like balloon. It seemed like such a perfect time. Which included conversations about how big our wedding would be and who we’d have to invite. The deep green shirt with the small black Nike embroidered trademark on the upper left side rested underneath an orange florescent t-shirt. They both caught my attention as I paused looking at them and remembering as if they somehow were talking about all things they had in common. On no particular special occasion not more than five years before, the bright orange shirt was one of two given to me by another former girlfriend. The second of the shirts, a deep brown that almost seemed green in some lights -I couldn’t recall where it was, had a small embroidery of a man playing a saxophone. The designer, a local clothing entrepreneur who’s initials penned MJ, I was sure had grown by this time. There were even more conversations on marriage and I was sure maybe so much more than before that this was the person I would walk down the isle with. After all, I was older and wiser. I was the father of two kids and felt I more than knew enough. The two kids from another relationship which involved neither of the two former lovers. Her name was J, but that’s another story. When I received the two shirts I was surprised and happy at N’s spontaneity. Although the colors weren’t what I would choose myself I was still glad and tried my best to hide my despondent opinion of her choice of colors and size. But the shirts were a small thing. Not enough to get worked up over. As a matter of fact we rarely did. It was a happy relationship despite its challenges on either side of our lives. She, trying to end a troubled secret marriage that was seeped in turmoil and me, was cutting the final ties from a corrosive situation. It seamed like the worst time for both of us but we had a special connection I felt from the moment we met. I was sure ever so sure that we were destined to be in each others lives. You couldn’t tell me otherwise. And although I entertain the attention of other females and remembered even pursued a few, things somehow slowly fell into place as if we both had planned it.
It was one of happiest times of my life. But that ended a few years later. I threw out many shirts and suits I guess to symbolize a new beginning. Cutting the cord on the past. but I kept one shirt in particular. The bright orange florescent one. I suppose as a simple reminder.
Years later I would run into another old love driving by me in a small red car. One of the biggest heart breaks of my young life. Like a lesson from the past almost and quite by chance we would have missed each other. But I’ve always believed that there are no such things as coincidences. I had sometimes wondered what happened to C. She had changed and was no longer a young girl but a mature woman. At least on the outside. Her lifestyle still reflected someone in search of love in the wrong places. I carried no remnants of her in my drawers. Well maybe a small picture. But no old shirts because C had never given me any. When we spoke again after many years it was clear to me what had happened. Because in many ways she had changed and so had I. But the connection wasn’t one tenth of what it once was. Ahh love, what were you showing me. Try as we did for a short time nothing was recaptured- if we even had desired that much. But I soon lost contact with C. And N, after we had split held onto the teddy bear given to me by V.
Years later I was given two more shirts by a brief love when I met S for the first and only time. A white v-neck semi-formal t-shirt that gripped my arms and a black abstract pattern shirt that I instantly adored. The encounter with S lasted less time than a full moon. Her intense anger was like a grenade I wasn’t willing to throw myself on. After our split and my refusal to have another go on the rollercoaster ride, she asked for the shirts back. I hadn’t worn them yet.
I kept the shirt