Every August my mother took my siblings and me to the Goodwill for new school clothes. She chose a few pairs of pants for each of us and a new set of church clothes, but we got to pick our own t-shirts.
I loved this and could spend hours browsing the racks. It wasn’t the opportunity for input into my appearance that I was so excited and careful about, but the life the shirts represented. I chose shirts from things like summer camps, arts competitions and classes, travel to a big city. I thought maybe people would think I wasn’t so poor if my shirts showed things rich people did.
And I wanted to do those things so badly. The shirts fueled my daydreams every time I wore them – a summer learning to canoe and sleeping in bunk beds in cute cabins, years of ballet classes culminating in a beautiful performance with lots of flowers and clapping, flying in an airplane to New York and visiting all the famous places with calm, smiling, well-dressed people.