Like far too many of my high school choices, I did it to impress a boy. He was, and I’m sure still is, one of those boy next door types who is nice to everyone, seems a little outside of the cool cliques, and never gets pulled into the drama that is high school. We met during my freshman year and would be friends for several years. But 15-year-old Megan dreamed of much more than friendship. No the white picket fence, 2.4 kids, and 1.3 dogs were already in the plan for after we graduated from college. Just had to convince him of this super awesome plan.
Unfortunately I had no idea how to flirt, let alone suggest happily ever after to the boy. Instead I laughed at all of his jokes, tried to sit close on the bus, and made friends with his friends to logically be in the same circles whenever I could. As fall shifted to winter, I noticed that he often wore a blue sweatshirt to keep warm in class. So when I spotted a similar jacket at the outlet mall, it had to be mine. The cotton and strings would, I assumed, be the banner telling him what my actions were failing to accomplish: Ask me out!!!
Alas, I write these words years later with no ring on my finger and no tales of our dreamy first date. We remained close friends for a few years, and then life had us drifting into new spaces and adventures. But the jacket remains hanging in my closet, a memorial to that close-but-not-quite relationship.
Hundreds of washings have faded the color so that the original bright blue only appears along the seems at the wrists. Holes in the pockets have been sewed repeatedly. And the inside fabric is matted so much that the entire top folds in on itself to half of its original depth. The jacket has survived 20 years to go from an outlet find to a retro antique. If it were a toy, this jacket would be the Velveteen Rabbit and a few months from being “real.”
These days I do not pull out the jacket in hopes of impressing the boy. I have not seen him years and as far as I know, he is happily married and has a green coat.
No, now I wear this jacket all for me. It serves as the physical reminder of who I was at 15-years-old, who I am today, and the journey between the two. When I pulled a blue jacket from the rack, I had to select a 3X one because the other sizes would not fit over the pounds I was denying surrounded me. I could not run a mile, walk up stairs without shallow breathing, or fit into any clothes in my age-appropriate section. None of those are true for me any more. That means the jacket that once reflected the hopes to be worthy of the boy now wraps around me to remember how worthy I am.
Those days when I fall over and over again, that is when I head into the closet to find my blue superhero cape. Wrapping around me or hanging behind, to of course blow in the wind, I am ready to get up and try again. And when I cannot find the right word, the right step, or the right decision, then the hood comes down as a protector for a few moments of dark silence until the spark within is ready to start again.
One of my 2018 goals relates to expanded breadth and consistency in writing by following a 52 week challenge that provides topics. I have titled this process #52sparks inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down.” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.