everything we love is tied to a memory.

even a t-shirt.

there are 16 random minutes of my life that, for some reason, i remember just about every day. i don’t try to think about these things. they just pop up in my head. there... then gone.

1my mom snuggling with me in her chaise lounge, whispering “today is a surprise day.”
mothers know what we need.age 6
2my dad grabbing me off the hood of my brother’s car, bawling as my brother pulled out of the driveway to go to college.
love hurts.age 7
3lying with my grandparents and little sister in their king size half-hard mattress, half-waterbed, getting our backs scratched, watching the 10 o’clock news and Andy Griffith.
the bond that no child should be denied.age 8
4watching in awe at Linda Richards performing Madonna’s Like a Virgin at my 6th grade end-of-the-school-year slumber party.
don’t be so concerned about what people think... just do it! and laugh your head off.age 11
5my big sister getting off the airplane from Raleigh, North Carolina.
relief. reunion.age 12
6practicing my violin in the powder room in Robards, Kentucky.
the acoustics. learning the lesson of loving to be alone.age 12
7reading a letter matt wrote me in 8th grade.
friendship first.age 13
8my aunt, uncle, cousins, mom, dad, sisters, and brother piling into one car to go to the movies.
families should stick together like an animal pack.age 14
9sitting at the Lewis’ kitchen table.
the realization of friends being family.age 17
10heating up ramen noodles in a dorm room.
comfort food kills misery.age 18
11losing my keys.
i’m all over the place... calm down... breathe....age 24
12packing for my first work trip to Europe, and then my brother repacking me.
all you need in life is a big brother, a pair of jeans, and six white t-shirts.age 26
13breakfast with Mehmet Ali in Istanbul.
facing the truth.age 28
14matt sitting on our friend Michelle’s front steps.
whoa. matt eddmenson, 20 years later.age 29
15matt standing on the sidewalk on Powell Street in Henderson, Kentucky with his granddaddy.
nausea, head rush, stomach butterflies... what?age 29
16sitting with matt on my front porch.
life as i knew it is over. life has begun.age 29

pretty much a memory blank after that visit on the front porch....

as random as this list is, here’s the reason i’m sharing: i’ve come to my own conclusion that every one of the 16 minutes of flash memories haunt me in a good way - they are like flash cards for basic life lessons.

that night my brother repacked me for my trip to Europe takes me back to a realization... of two objects: a pair of jeans. and a t-shirt.

he came over (sometime in the 90s) to bring me some recommended travel necessities: his leather-bound travel journal, and some roasted almonds that he mixed with dried blueberries.

frustrated as hell, i sat on the floor of my bedroom in front of my packed-to-the brim suitcase.

five cities in five climates in about five days, with meetings at each point that had something to do with fashion, all in lands that i didn’t know.

i had concocted a couple of different outfit options for each day. and, because of the DNA of a young woman, i had about ten sets of shoes crammed in there, just in case.

my brother didn’t say much other than, “let me help you take away some stress.”

he took everything out of the suitcase.

then he reloaded it sweetly and neatly with a pair of jeans and six white t-shirts... five of which he got out of my drawer, as well as a 1950s tattered t-shirt that he brought me as a gift.

he rolled up a cashmere sweater and tucked it in the side. he wedged in a pair of heels and a pair of boots into the perfectly packed puzzle.

he closed the top, locked the 4-digit sliding code, and pulled the suitcase to the front door.

i don’t remember exactly what he said after all of that, but it was something like...

“your life just got a lot easier.”

and it did.

i never missed anything that i would have taken on that adventure.

i suddenly didn’t care what anyone would think about what i wore.

it’s like i took all of the layers off and just became me.

1 of those 16 minutes grew to define how i feel and who i am okay with being.

just me. in a white t-shirt and jeans.

since that night of the re-packing of the suitcase, i have pulled white t-shirts out of my mom and dad’s treasure trove attic. we have dug through dirty piles of junk in vintage warehouses searching for “the one.” and i have begged strangers to buy the t-shirts off of their backs. i also have bought new white t-shirts. a lot of them. but with all due respect - i’ve never found “the one.”

ironically, matt too has always worn the same uniform. he has his stack of sacred vintage tees as well.

we knew from the beginning that we would make the other piece to the uniform: the imogene + willie t-shirt.

here’s to hoping your life is about to get a lot easier.

with love,

carrie