Inspirations for album pages (and blogs) come in the strangest places. Today inspiration struck while I was sitting on a bench outside the car dealership, waiting for the technician to check out my minivan. It was a chilly morning (for Florida, at least), and I was huddled up in my trusty grey sweatshirt.

I started thinking about how comfortable – and comforting – my grey sweatshirt is. And then I started remembering the long parade of grey sweatshirts in my life. These grey sweatshirts are always zip-front, hooded, with roomy pockets, and, well, grey. I can tuck my hands in the pockets, pull up the hood, and face cold winter mornings or chilly summer evenings with aplomb.

The first grey sweatshirt appeared on the scene rather serendipitously – it was the only sweatshirt available in a little country store in the mountains of New Hampshire when I was in desperate need of warm clothing.  I was a high school student serving as a mother’s helper to a family vacationing in a lakefront cabin. I had jumped at the chance to escape New Jersey for a few weeks, but I hadn’t packed very wisely. So I had to spend my hard-earned wages on a sweatshirt.

And that was the beginning of a long line of grey sweatshirts. (Imagine if the only sweatshirt in that New Hampshire store had been camo? Or pink?) That first grey sweatshirt accompanied me on all my summer adventures – sliding down a New Hampshire Mountain, canoeing across the lake at sunset, and sitting around the campfire with my first “summer love”.

When I got back to real life in New Jersey, my grey sweatshirt was a memory of that magical summer. I wore that sweatshirt all through my high school and college years, until it was threadbare with a broken zipper and holes in the pockets. But still I could not seem to part with it.

Then I moved to Maine and got a place just down the road from L.L. Bean headquarters, where I came across the coziest fleece sweatshirt – hooded, zipped, and grey! My first grey sweatshirt was retired with honors, and the new sweatshirt came on duty. It was with me when I rafted the Kennebec and when I dragged my red Perception kayak through hip-high snow to reach a whitewater river in early spring. It was with me when I walked along the rocky shores of Casco Bay and when I drove to work at the paper mill in Westbrook.

Then my grey sweatshirt and I moved all the way across the continent to the Pacific Northwest, where we explored Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Mountains, and even Victoria, British Columbia. We climbed Mount Rainier and watched the flying fish at Pike’s Place Market. And we walked the cutest little Rottweiler puppy at all hours of the day and night.

And then came the family-raising years in Georgia and Chicago, and the next grey sweatshirts had more X’s on the tag in the back. Together we pushed babies in strollers, held little hands at the playground, and waited for the bus.

Fast-forward to the present – now I live in balmy Florida, and the grey sweatshirt that served me so well in Chicago is now too warm most of the time. So this fall, I met the perfect Florida grey sweatshirt – lightweight, light grey, and – hooray – with fewer X’s on the tag. This is the sweatshirt that I huddled up in at the car dealership, the one that started this trip down memory lane.

Isn’t amazing how an article of clothing can tell so much about a person and bring back so many memories? Somehow remembering wearing that grey sweatshirt helps me remember being “me”.


Overlays: All Roads Lead Home, Black & White Power Palette

Fonts: Fancy Schmancy,  Bookman Old Style, Arno Pro Smbd

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25 Responses to Blog: Grey Sweatshirts

  1. Nanelyn Mitchell says:

    What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. I especially love the beautiful simplicity of your page. To me, scrapbooking is about the stories. Beautiful!

    • Penny says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! I really like the way the page turned out, but it was pretty funny to see my kitchen chair wearing the grey sweatshirt so that I could get a nice picture of it!

  2. Terry Vachowski says:

    This is so fun, Penny! I live in Massachusetts and I’m always cold. For some reason I have every color hoodie but grey, but now I have to have one!

    • Penny says:

      Hey Terry! I was born on Cape Cod. I finally got to go back to visit one summer and was so excited to go to the beach – but it was so cold and foggy! I have some great photos of me walking at the shore (in my grey sweatshirt, of course). I hope to be able to visit again, preferably sometime sunny!

  3. carolyn18 says:

    Penny, as I read this I was wearing my grey sweatshirt. I love it!

  4. Fantastic story Penny! What a great way to inspire us to write about the everyday stuff we love and live with!

    • Penny says:

      I wish I had photos of all of my coffee mugs over the years. I always have one go-to mug (which changes periodically – I’m fickle that way.) I never enjoy my coffee or tea quite as much if it’s not in my current favorite. I may have to do a page on coffee mugs!

  5. gayneal says:

    Fun blog! It really helps us get to know you – you were quite the adventurous young woman!

    • Penny says:

      Sometimes I forget how adventurous I have been – and it’s good to remind myself that I can still have adventures. One of the things that I liked about whitewater kayaking was that people of all ages could do it. Many of the experts that I learned from were in their 50’s and 60’s. My mentor learned to kayak in Siberia, where he and his friends had to take the train for days to reach the whitewater rivers. I hope to channel that same spirit of adventure and challenge now that *I* am in my 50’s!

  6. Janice says:

    Your grey sweatshirt stories are fabulous! You have your very own Sisterhood of the Travelling Sweatshirt!

  7. Carolyn says:

    Love it, Penny! This reminds me of my swimming suit blog but you were not nearly as naughty in your grey sweatshirts as I was in my swimsuits. There’s NO WAY I could have told all their stories. 🙂

  8. Deanna Emmert says:

    Oh, Penny, I smiled so much when I read this blog post! YOUR grey sweatshirts are MY fleece vests that I live in from November – April and (last summer) on outdoor photo adventures in the wee morning hours in the high Cascades around Bend, OR, and the Central Oregon Coast ANY time of year. Here’s to more memories and adventures. 🙂

    • Penny says:

      Oh, I love the Oregon Coast! I didn’t get to visit there as often as I would have liked when I lived in the Seattle area. I do have fond memories of walking on the beach with my young Rottie playing in the waves. Amazing scenery! P.S. I do have one blue fleece vest that is becoming a favorite also!

  9. jolleyontheroad jolleyontheroad says:

    Love it and my many colored hooded, zip up with pockets sweat shirts that keep me warm!!

  10. Jan says:

    I love this, Penny! I think about all of the stories my t-shirts could tell (and I’m really glad some of them can’t talk!). I’ve thought about making a t-shirt quilt, but since I don’t sew, maybe a t-shirt quilt page will do! xx

  11. Tara Wells says:

    I can’t begin to say how much I love this blog entry! Penny, your sweatshirts certainly have seen many adventures and places. What a lovely way to denote different parts of your life! And congratulations on “fewer X’s.”

    • Penny says:

      Tara, I am glad you enjoyed reading it! I know I will be glad later on that I told this story – it brought back so many memories and gave me a different perspective on my life.

  12. adakallen adakallen says:

    Love It!

  13. debbie says:

    Great blog–I’m sure many of us today will reflect on those things that we just kept replacing throughout our lives and the memories that accompany them. Great topic for a blog and a page–it says so much about the person that created it.

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