A reproduction brown leather bomber jacket bought over 22 years ago from a discount liquidator called Building 19. Who knew such a simple article could bring such immediate joy when reclaimed.
It comes from a time when I was younger and childless, and certainly a hell of a lot thinner than I had been for 8 of the past 10 years. Building 19 was the furniture outfitter in the early struggle years of marriage before children or careers with traction. It had been an impulse purchase while out looking at chairs and sofas, I think.
And I loved wearing that thing. It reminded me of my dad's WWII bomber jacket with lettering on the back now hanging in a closet. Dad died when I was 8. I wore his WWII bomber jacket often as a kid. I smelled it and held it more often than I wore it, however.
Like the authentic jacket, this one is brown. Of fairly inexpensive quality, the arms are two pieces sewn together a little above the elbow. Always wanted to find a more expensive one with single piece arms, but did not want to part with the cash when I found them.
And the condition of the leather was never adequate in the replacements. This one is brown with most of the tanning and sheen taken off. It came "distressed" and weathered further from use to the point of almost looking like suede in places. Very much akin to the condition of my father's authentic jacket worn hard while flying missions over Germany as a mid gunner/radio man on a B-24. One such mission merited him a Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters.
The reproduction coat was last used in earnest by my children’s mother during one of the pregnancies. I was too fat to fit in it. I had stretched it with my gut such that it worked well for her in pregnancy.
And several years ago I gave up hope of losing weight and tossed a lot of favorite clothes. Took five large trash bags to the Salvation Army of jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, dress shirts, and suits I felt I would never be able to wear again. A physical failure, as it were, while struggling with a failing marriage. Sucked.
Desperate to keep it around, I remember trying to pawn the coat off onto each of my three sons. They looked at it as if it was something that ought to be bagged and disposed of by a hazmat unit.
So in a communication in the final days before a court decree ending a marriage that died in spirit long ago, I inquired if it could be searched for in the home. It's getting colder. I do not want to spend money on a new coat due to weight loss if an old one is still around. The the second, XXL LL Bean barn coat acquired as a replacement is simply too large now. Also shows how leather lasts in comparison.
The old coat was there, I was told. I could pick it up with books in boxes, sort through the books, take what I did not want to the library, and return the boxes. The leather coat the high arching snowball that took away my attention from the one with a rock hidden inside it heading straight for my face.
So I went and gathered the belongings as instructed. The coat was the focus on the weird drive to a place I no longer really know or to which I feel any connection.
I walked to the door guardedly and anxiously, wondering what I might find. Through the glass, I saw the boxes and the coat atop them. Boxes, ironically enough, that came from a failed business in which I worked before starting my own company. I used the boxes for mail sorting in my business, which reminded me of my first secretary who came with me starting the company working without pay until the first contract got signed. A lovely woman with whom I need to reconnect. A nice memory, from boxes left behind from my business possessions when vacating over a year ago. Not mine now, apparently. A low cost “thing” with lots of hidden meaning and whose alleged ownership irks based on principal.
I did not care about the boxes even after recognizing them for what they were. I wanted that damn coat. Priorities.
I rushed to put on the coat, fearful it would still be too tight. I checked the label. A 46. I knew I bought it large, anticipating packing on weight in my mid 20s. I flipped it on quickly elated it had ample room for a sweater or fleece needed in harsh weather given I lost the zipped in lining years ago. A lining removed when the coat no longer fit around my gut with the lining inside it.
And I smiled and giggled as I touched the sleeves and the worn front before reaching back into the pockets. This simple act reminded me of a minor annoyance with their positioning, making it necessary to almost put your hands behind your back to get them into or out of the pockets. The buttoned flapped ones directly on top of the lined pockets were then tried. Stiff. I never used them. It was a constant source of fixation in my OCD-addled brain between which pockets to deploy.
And I laughed and smiled again. “Who gives a shit?” I thought, “It’s a great coat.” That pocket issue had previously driven me crazy at times and was a big driver in looking for replacements. Not happy with what I had. Needing perfection. Idiot.
It smelled the same, it felt the same, and I was able to laugh at my annoyances.
And then I picked up the books, again laughing at the contention around a couple plastic post office mail carrying container bins over 20 years old. I had rebutted the request when submitted so tersely and coldly. Now I felt shamed over my pettiness rather than bewildered about the treatment. It’s beyond my control.
And I giggled my way through three trips to my car trunk.
For I am not the same.
I am happy again, if not for the first time in my entire adult life.
A positive trigger from a simple, inexpensive, weathered reproduction leather bomber jacket brought it to the fore.
And therapy. Lots and lots of grueling, humbling therapy whose benefit grows with each passing day.
A pic, per Mamoore's request ...