Thrift store inspiration

Darren D'Altorio

Enjoy life, play.

I found a T-shirt at a thrift store once that had the title words of this atrocious nonsense written across the chest. And I bought it.

It cost around one dollar for the bright- orange shirt with those words written in royal blue. Some person thought it wasn’t cool enough to wear regularly and discarded it.

Since the purchase, it’s been a priceless piece of my wardrobe.

The moment I saw the shirt nestled between the old company softball team shirts, which had stretched collars and pit stains that don’t go away, I liberated it. And it liberated me.

Standing there in the aisle of the store, I thought about the words, individually and together.

Enjoy. It was the beginning of summer between sophomore and junior year in high school. It felt different. I felt different. I would be getting my driver’s permit this summer. I just bleached my hair blonde. My acne started to disappear along with my baby fat. I had the closest group of friends a 15-year-old boy could assemble. I had a pretty girlfriend with pretty blonde hair like mine. I was riding the sunshine.

Life. It’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. It’s falling in love with something new every single day. It’s learning lessons the hard way. It’s riding a bike with no hands, closing your eyes and throwing your head back to face the sky. It’s crashing the same bike into the curb thirty seconds later and finding a way to laugh about it. It’s going to your grandfather’s funeral. It’s seeing your best friends parents bring their new baby home from the hospital. It’s telling your mom you’ll be home in 15 minutes and then going to the thrift store instead.

Play. This is the most important. This is what keeps people feeling young and happy. It requires imagination, like seeing a stick, a ball of string and a laundry basket and thinking, “Man, I could catch a bird with those ingredients.” It begs of people to find the balls to break the rules when necessary. It requires being smart. It offers a helping hand, an invitation. It demands selflessness because selfish people are the worst to play with.

I added the pieces together and framed my future around the phrase. I let it infect my friendships and my love life. I have hours of videos of me and my friends from that summer, acting like fools. I lost my virginity that summer, next to a lake at sunset. I got my heart broken. And I put it back together again.

My editor sent an e-mail to the staff last week, instructing us to keep our columns under 500 words. And I understand. Space is tight, and so are attention spans.

If you’re still reading, I hope you regained a lost memory or killed that minute you wanted to kill. But I made my point in the first three words and used all the 500 I was allotted.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].