A Tale of Two Sweatshirts


I saw that sardonic sentiment emblazoned in white upon a pepper black sweatshirt and I wanted it. I wanted it, the real me whose face is not sutured with a counterfeit smile, the real me who is not an innocuous gnat, the real me whose veins course as thrill-filled tributaries to a heart that delights in this tiny rebellion. And so I bought it. And I wore it. And people noticed.

Coming out as a writer has been a daunting process, a shy student limping to the podium, tasked to read her dear diary before the entire student body. I submitted to the challenge for I had no choice; not writing had become unbearable. In order to not write, I had to assume the life of someone else, a barren doppelgänger whose sole goal was invisibility–nondescript clothing, neutered opinions, a banal existence of polite compliance.

My tiny horror story sweatshirt is a symbol of internal insurrection, a declaration of burgeoning independence, and those who know me well feel the change in my air. I wore the sweatshirt for a recent visit with my mother-in-law. We exchanged the perfunctory hugs and chitchat until the white stitching pulled her attention. As she has vision problems, she asked me, “What does your sweatshirt say?” “A tiny horror story. Monday,” I said. She grimaced, but in an instant collected herself and granted a fake laugh. Still, her eyes shone with confusion laced with hurt, searching my eyes for the affirmation of the cheery daughter-in-law for whom she delighted in giving totes and t-shirts adorned with the saccharine Life is Good motto.

A month later, a co-conspirator arrived in the form of a red-eyed bunny glowering from the black canvas of an overpriced, designer sweatshirt. Angry bunny, the oxymoron tickled me. Perhaps it is the soft and fuzzy, externally unblemished creatures whose insides seethe with resentment and longing, a state of constant discontent betrayed from time to time by flashes of the eyes. I bought the sweatshirt.

I assumed the audacity to debut my angry bunny sweatshirt on Christmas Eve. My sister-in-law remarked at the dinner table, “Your sweatshirt scares me.” She really meant, “Your changing scares me.”

I am not without compassion for my loved ones and their fear of my unmasking. There exists supreme comfort in the steadfast, but humans are not intended to be static. I want this change with all of my heart.

started 2015 with the intention to dare. My daring is not of the magnitude symbolized by Liberty Leading the People during the French Revolution, rather mine is the daring of the individual. The daring of a writer to write, to lay claim to my thoughts and move beyond perfectionism, the daring to put aside the fear of judgment and stake my truth—a cumulation of modest revolutionary acts leading to my emancipation.

Wishing you all a beautiful (and authentic) New Year.

Day 5: Hey, no thanks, World.” by Andrea Rose is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.