The Personal Artifacts We Carry With Us Through Our Lives

Why I keep wearing board shorts when there’s no seaside in sight.

Brian Abbey
Itinerantings
Published in
6 min readJul 16, 2021

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

A good friend of mine told me a story about when she was a child and her family moved from Florida to Wisconsin. I don’t remember which cities. I only remember her saying the first year in Wisconsin was cold, even by Wisconsin standards.

She said her mother packed the family’s summer things into a closet in the hallway. My friend, missing the heat and sun of Florida, would walk into the closet and take the top off the bottle of sunscreen to sniff it. She wanted a reminder of what summer smelled like.

I feel the same way about board shorts. No matter where I live, regardless of the proximity to the ocean, I have several pairs of board shorts in my wardrobe. Recently, I wore one of my favorite pairs to a lovely little garden terrace in town. When I arrived, I tried explaining my fashion choice to my friend, a woman who usually over thinks what she will wear and how she wants to be perceived.

She stopped me when I used the term board shorts. She’d never heard of these ‘special surfing shorts’ and was perplexed why a grown man in the middle of a landlocked city thought this was appropriate attire. While her sartorial choices can be provocative at times, she’d wouldn’t walk into any non-beachside restaurant in a bikini.

I get it. I look like I am about to go swimming, but I keep wearing them for the exact reason my friend would sneak into the closet and sniff sunscreen. I never want to forget the place I came from.

Lawyers don’t surf

I dropped out of Georgetown Law School to become a surfer. That statement is only 70% true. I realized after I enrolled I only had a lukewarm enthusiasm for a career in law and my lukewarm enthusiasm couldn’t justify the six-figure student loan I was going to need. This realization elicited a mild existential crisis about what I was going to do with my life — a crisis narrated inside my head by Patrick Swayze’s character Bodhi, from Point Break.

When my parents tried to persuade me to stay in school and go into a lucrative career practicing law, I would hear Swayze’s philosophical drawl in the recesses of…

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Brian Abbey
Itinerantings

expat, ex-philosopher, ex-entrepreneur writing on society, relationships, & AI singularities. VICE, Salon, & misc humor sites @brianabbey brianabbeywriter.com