The Letterman Jacket

So I have my old letterman jacket. The one I begged my mom for in high school because I absolutely NEEDED it and I would wear it “FOREVER, I promise!”

Yeah… I have that one. Sitting in my closet.

It is dark blue and the gaudy yellow that passed for gold as far as school colors were concerned. It is leather on the sleeves- heavy and stiff all over. It is very 1990s.¬†On one pocket it has a name that I have not used in over ten years. On the breast is a letter for marching band, for orchestra, for colorguard… Seriously, about a dozen pins all denoting my dedication to the music program at our school. Not exactly a varsity standard.

I have one patch on the sleeve for my terrible season as a track and field groupie. The season that I was high point-woman for the jv team simply because there were no other jv girls who did the high jump. Seriously. None. From our school or any others. Okay, maybe one or two. So I took first place at almost every meet even though I could barely high-jump over a hurdle. I didn’t go to the awards ceremony because I was too embarrassed to accept my “award-by-default.”

Inside one cuff is a white ribbon. I had to check what the pin holding it said. Honor society. Apparently I was in honor society. I guess so. I had the grades. The extra-curricular activities. What does it even take to get into honor society? I know I must have been excited when I was accepted. It meant something to me at the time.

My mother sent this jacket inside one of six boxes that contained my entire childhood. When I told her I was moving permanently to Bulgaria she sent them to me. More so that she did not have to continue transporting and storing them for me every time she moved. But she paid the too-high shipping fees as a gift towards my new life here.

I opened the boxes, not sure what to expect. I shared the items with my husband. I let my son play with my old toys. I hung my letterman jacket in my closet.

Since then I have taken it out and tried it on. It feels so stiff and heavy that I wonder if it was every comfortable. It feels so bright and strange that I wonder how I wore it to school and felt like I didn’t stand out. Because everyone else had one? Or they were wearing their boyfriends’?

I got it my senior year. When I first cut my hair short to be like Catherine from the Garden of Eden. I remember the jacket collar always felt rough on my neck. I remember it was warm in the winter.

I think I took it with me to college. Maybe I wore it for a season. Then I moved to Tucson- to warm weather. Over time my name got shorter, changed completely, and the jacket stopped following me.

Now it sits there in my closet, taunting me. I swore I would wear it forever. But what does one do with a jacket that meant everything and now has no relevance? Do I wear it ironically? Is that even irony?

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