The Coat of Many Stories


‘Ratty and faded, but I just can’t bear to part with it’

I can understand why some people might be into the so-called “life-changing magic of tidying up”. But I’m no Marie Kondo. Not when it comes to discarding certain tattered treasures in my closet, at any rate.

Take this coat. Please. I bought it at the Gap, along with a teensy matching version, way back when The Child was actually a child. As you can see, we had a kind of Mother/Daughter Thing going on.

Two peas in their pods. Er, bright, shiny, new, and very red coats

Well, time went by and The Child grew out of hers. I’m sure we “handed it on” to some even-smaller child somewhere. So we never got a chance to see it get faded and tattered. But mine?

The Child, still childlike here, has outgrown and passed on her coat. Not me. Not sure if Middle Younger Brother Roger and gorgeous Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jen still sport those snappy jackets

Why do I stubbornly hang on to this coat? Is it because it’s…red? I ask this because I have another article of clothing I can’t bear to part with which happens to share the same hue — as well as some of the same history.

Or is it because the coat, like the sweatshirt, has seen itself worn to bits on only the happiest of occasions? Like strolling on the beach with Rog and Jen at Favorite Younger Sister Laura’s.  And walking on the (gulp) railroad tracks with The Dude.

The Dude and I waiting for the train. (And hoping the engineer will notice all that red)

Or hiking in the Walking Dunes. Which is where that picture at the top of this piece was taken, probably on a Thanksgiving. Which, as you Faithful Readers know by now, is absolutely The Best Holiday Ever (See “Turkey Shoot”) and my Favorite Family Time by Far (See “Flipping the Bird”). (Well, except maybe for weddings. Hard to beat a good wedding. Even if most of the time no turkey or pumpkin pie is on the menu.)

A look back — and down — on a hike with The Coat

So, this memory-infused article of outerwear has gotten outerworn until it’s worn plumb out. It got so shredded (and so ventilated) that I finally did buy a replacement last year. But have I thrown the old one out? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Me, still in my coat, next to The Child, who probably wouldn’t fit into it even if I did deign to give it to her

I thought of all this yesterday because I happened to be happily sporting my favorite flip flops (never ever call them “thongs”, saith The Child) when they self-destructed.

I blew out my flip flop. But did not, fortunately, step on a pop top

Sadly, a flip that’s flopped is no good to anyone. So on to Flipflop Margaritaville they went. But I was sorry to see them go. These two have been everywhere. There’s a Panamanian thorn embedded in one that I could never remove; every once in a while, if I stepped Just So, I’d feel it and think of the bull goring I witnessed that day. I was able to dig up a little Panamanian film clip where the flip flops — but sadly, neither bulls nor goring — make a cameo appearance. Water shenanigans are involved:

Well, I guess that’s about it for this week. And for that red coat. I’ve decided: now that I’ve paid it this blogging tribute, I can finally toss it out. (Marie will be pleased, as will The Child, who is a Kondo Fan.) But first I have to get busy turning another pair of old jeans into cutoffs.

These jeans are probably older than you

New York City. September 2018

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11 thoughts on “The Coat of Many Stories

  1. I, too, still own many a raggedy garment. They are stored among the shelves in one of our extra-large though strangely-placed closets (which is also a pretty good description of the haphazard remodels and additions done to this house before it was ours). I tell myself I am saving them, along with similar items previously worn by my now-adult children in their California youths, to crochet some round rugs out of, knowing full well I will probably never make much progress on any!

    On the flip-side, I could still wear (and may be able to do so again if I EVER fully recover from hip replacement surgery but it’s been nearly a year and a half already) flip-flops that I bought my eldest (aka Mini-me) in a rainbow of colors from our neighborhood Target (which I had one here in TN like I did in CA) for a birthday gift one year. She doesn’t like them anymore, now that she is living in MUCH colder climes (Kalamazoo, MI), though I still found them to be handy long after she had moved out on her own.

    • Thank you for your memories! I too have closets of raggedy garments I might “use” one day. Though I have gotten better at “Marie Kondo”-ing them lately. (Painful, but exhilarating) About those flip-flops. I can never have enough. If Mini-Me doesn’t want them, send them my way!

  2. paige

    oh my gosh – never get rid of the coat!! some things are meant to be saved forever, especially when they have such great memories attached <3 x

    • True, Paige, true. That coat is hanging in the closet even as we speak! I may not wear it so much anymore, but Insure do like seeing it in there. Thank you so much for reading!

  3. Alas I am older than your coat, and memories are the fabric of me. I have a hairdryer given to me by my son’s Godmother and my dear friend. I was expecting my son when she gifted me with a Clarol hot shot in 1978. It is the only one I have and still use it today.

  4. I love this. And THANK YOU for validating my “I’m no Marie Kondo” philosophy. Though I would like to be. I’d also like to be an early riser, but that’s not going to happen either. I’ve been spending my mornings of late (September in Vermont means chilly mornings, hot afternoons) in an old sweatshirt with “Too Many Books, Too Little Time” emblazoned across the front. The cuffs are frayed beyond repair, but I see them as just a reminder of how much I love this sweatshirt. I have three others I could wear instead, but no . . .

    Methinks you’ve started me on a new blog post. Thank you

    • First, let me say that I love it when I inspire a new blog post (!) Second, I’d also like to say that I am SO glad I am not the only one who can’t bear to part with ratty old clothes. I only wish I had a sweatshirt with “Too Many Books, Too Little Time” on the front. I did once have one that said (in small print) “If you can read this, you’re too close” that I wish I had kept.

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