Ga head, Ga head -
she was yelling this, while she did that little hop in one place thing, hands waving in front of her like little birds. Big smile on her face as I unwrapped the package (like I would not love it, considering the joy she was getting out of this).

Inside layers of white paper was a grey, long sleeved Tshirt- Wheat fields near Arles- "It's perfect!" I yelled, which, at the time was true. Big hug, noncommital answer to how she had found it, etc.

Years later, during an infrequent move between apartments I found it under a couple of sweatshirts. I stared at a long time and I wondered if it still smelled of cedar, of fried onions-of her . It did not.

Since I was then dating a former (she would say, reformed) art major, I decided to wear it the next time we went out.
"Hey, nice shirt! I am impressed! Where'd ya get it? "
Long story, I said. Let's just say it was a gift from someone I don't see anymore.
"Someone had good taste" she said, and when I smiled she added, "unlike you!" but she was grining, and I knew she was teasing.

It was strange seeing the shirt as a symbol for something other than us, other than late night fajita frys, trips to out of town museums and sleeping in the backseat of her Dad's Nova

Protesting- with straight face- No, I was NOT conceived here!

It was a brief three years, but then came her parent's divorce, her sister's illness and one last trip to Seattle. That time she didn't come back.

Now the shirt just meant I knew somebody who knew about art and colors that are so bright you hurt your eyes, but you can't look away. I don't have to look away anymore. I gave it to girl #2.
The first time she wore it out we were at a bar in Chicago. Some arty girl with tiny glasses and a bright yellow scarf ran across the room to see it when we walked in: Nice shirt!
Girl #2 probably looked back at me at this point and smiled, but I was looking out the window, watching the sidewalk cafes fill with people.

If you want to see the painting, it is at vangoghgallery.com

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