The other day, to my horror, a certain t-shirt of mine accidentally got mixed up in the laundry. My horror only lasted for half a second, though, because that was how long it took to rush over and verify that the shirt was still in one piece.
It’s a rock radio t-shirt from my favorite radio station of the 80’s: 92.3 KSJO, a San Jose station that broadcasted hard rock throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in San Jose. I’ve had this t-shirt since I was 17. It’s 31 years old, and it’s the only wardrobe piece I’ve carried around with me wherever I’ve lived over the last three decades.
As you may remember, I have a hard time letting go of favorite articles of clothing. I hang onto them until they’re quite literally falling apart.
I didn’t recognize the shirt in the laundry basket, at first. My eyes passed over the limp and faded piece of black fabric, and I thought, which rag is that? I didn’t know we had a black rag…??
Then, in that half-second of horror, I realized it was the shirt. My precious. I hadn’t washed it for years because I didn’t think it would survive another round in the laundry, and now here it was, in the laundry, washed and dried. And lo! It made it through. And now it’s clean, which is a good thing, anyway.
I’ve long since stopped wearing this t-shirt, though it’s (miraculously) still wearable. On the verge of disintegration, but wearable. I did take it out of retirement momentarily for the sake of this post, though, so you can see the old-school glory of this now-defunct rock radio station:
This was the station’s classic logo. I had bumper stickers with this logo, too, which I plastered onto my binders. I also had the bumper stickers featuring that one red, white, and blue KSJO logo that had the “S” drawn as the AC/DC lightning bolt. (I loved that one. AC/DC was my first favorite rock band.)
I listened to KSJO’s rival station, too – 98.5 KOME (I also had KOME stickers) – but to this day, I have this shirt. This was the shirt that came with me when I left home at 18.
I haven’t always treated it well. I cut out its neckline, as I was in the habit of doing to all of my t-shirts. I wore it relentlessly and washed it hundreds of times. It lived in boxes for long periods of time. It’s full of holes, ripped and torn, faded and so thin in some places, it’s practically see-through. It’s worn-out and falling apart.
It’s priceless. The shirt rocks on.