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The T-Shirt

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
The T-Shirt

I have a “t-shirt” that I adore. My husband would laugh at the use of the word “t-shirt” (which is why I am lovingly surrounding it with quotes) because it is better described as a thin willowy patch of material that vaguely resembles a shirt and which must be handled with care so as not to have it float out the window in a sprinkling of t-shirt dust. I’ve worn it for 23 years. I’ll tell you why.

It was 1989. The Rolling Stones were doing their North American Tour. I was 17. My mom and I decided to take a road trip to St. Louis to see them play at the old Busch Stadium. Or, more accurately I suppose, she came up with the idea, and I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything better.

The concert was on a Sunday night. We made a weekend out of it, visiting a friend of mom’s and doing some shopping at the local mall (where I selected a matching denim skirt and jacket, both lined with fringe. I know, you don’t have to say it—I was cool.  I even have the senior picture to prove it. Try hard not to be jealous). The concert was as spectacular as you would expect a Rolling Stones concert to be 23 years ago, and I got a concert t-shirt to remember the experience. We drove home afterward – a four hour trip – arriving in the wee hours of the morning. After a few hours of sleep, with my ears still echoing the sounds of the concert, I was at school the next morning, proudly sporting my fringe denim and loving my mom something fierce.

And so, while the fringe denim has long since been discarded (sadly, I know), for 23 years I’ve worn the concert t-shirt and thought about that crazy brilliant decision by my mom to take her teenage daughter on a weekend adventure, as well as countless other moments where she said YES and took me along for the ride – whether it was staying up late to catch a shooting star, sitting out on the screened-in porch to watch an approaching thunder storm, sending me off to ring neighbors’ doorbells, arms overflowing with May Day flowers, or exploring the Wild West armed only with a rental car and a cooler full of baloney and wonder bread.

As a mom myself now, I hope I have the good sense to know a “t-shirt” moment when I see one, and I hope I remember to say YES. Because it’s never the big things, is it?  Okay, that’s actually a total lie – it is the big things. But it’s the small things too.  Those “t-shirt” moments will take your breath away; I mean they can truly knock your socks off.

As Joseph Campbell said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

What can you say YES to?

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.