The Power of the Material World

Paoulina - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on April 1, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

Society in this day and age runs on a steam-powered engine of people’s thoughts and actions towards one another. Searching for the perfect shirt, pant, or pair of shoes can be as important to my self-image as the people I surround myself with or the neighborhood I live in. The hole in my shirt from that time at my 3rd birthday party… or the navy blue Hudson jeans I was wearing when I met…. kick starts memories trying to recapture that pivotal moment in my life worth remembering. Beyond the surface of the materialistic side, I believe in the power of clothing.

The most arresting memories can be captured with a visual representation of a person. Taking a look at my closet reminds me of so many things that I have been through with friends and family, but the most cherished memory I have is not something that my own clothes tell.

Being in a new country at an early age was one of the most frightening things for me. As a six year old, I clung to my parents as soon as the plane landed in Houston. In the early years before I faced the challenges of AP classes and what to do on a Friday night, I spent my days on my dad’s lap reading a book. As the provider of the family, my dad went on short trips through the country to better himself as a medical expert, a helper of those in need; those times were the hardest to bear. The embarrassing story my mom always loves to bring up at reunions tells a tall tale I dare not verify of the crazy things I did when my dad would leave. When he would go on trips, I would take a shirt he wore recently and not let it out of my sight until he would come back, cradling it like the Holy Grail itself. As a little kid, it seemed like a normal thing to take naps with a shirt, never having a strong bond to a blankey or teddy bear before. Those shirts took me back—his face, eyes, smile, his being—just until he came home. It helped me cope with missing my dad, even though it was for a short time.

I believe in clothing. Not categorized by brand, price, or style, but by the flood of memories they unleash; a fast trip back to the land of the lost—the things stored away in my mind that I haven’t thought about since that 3rd birthday or that time I missed my dad.