Buying a new coat for the first time in 10 years

I’ve worn the same coat since I was nine — here’s why

lf18-pollard

Tom Pollard is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

A few months ago, I discovered an old photo featuring myself sporting a … well, “memorable” bowl cut.

Although I didn’t see a date, I looked about nine years old. My face was framed by bangs of undying hilarity. The photo must have been taken during the winter, considering the wind-reddened cheeks on my rotund, tomato-shaped head. Below my rosy veneer, a dragon t-shirt oozed style and charm. I might frame the picture next time.

Or burn it.

Despite my handsome appearance, the part of the photo which stood out the most was my coat. The puffy jacket billowed around my diminutive frame — too broad around the shoulders and spacious on the sides. I would describe the coat as an undetailed, uncomplicated brown blob. If a stranger looked at the photo, he or she probably wouldn’t find my coat noteworthy — at least, not compared to my hairstyle.

However, the bangs turned out to be transitory — a fleeting apparition which soon dissipated. In a similar fashion, my cheeks slimmed down, I grew almost another foot and I passed the responsibility of my dragon t-shirt to a young cousin.

The coat remained. The rough, nondescript fabric carried me through almost 10 years of my life. Even though  — aside from its cartoonish size —  the jacket doesn’t look like anything special in the photo, I actually arrived at the University wearing the same piece of clothing.

I’ve worn the same coat since I was nine.

I should have an explanation. Maybe if I had used the coat as a makeshift parachute to escape from a rabid parakeet or something, my loyalty to a random piece of fabric would be more understandable. However, no thought-provoking narratives hide in the lining of my jacket.

My old coat shows it age. A long tear distorts the left shoulder. The edges are worn down to straggling threads. A meshwork of multicolored stitching holds the top two buttons in place — a remnant of the four separate times they needed reattachment.

I’m not entirely sure why I’ve stuck with my coat — why I’ve worn it in every conceivable climate and in multiple countries. It wasn’t special when I first received it, but I think in its own way, my coat came to mean something.

Anyways, I’ve grown to the point where it doesn’t really fit me anymore, which is why about a month ago, I bought a new coat for the first time in 10 years. I could have certainly bought a coat earlier, but my vague devotion to my old jacket kept me from considering a replacement. Once I realized I couldn’t fasten the top button anymore, however, I knew I needed a change.

How do you step out of 10 years of routine? I’d put on the same coat each morning for years on end. Sure, buying a new jacket isn’t a world-shattering choice, but for reasons which elude me, I felt like I was betraying an old friend. How could I replace such a stalwart companion? 

I don’t want to relive the era of bowl cuts. I’ve never stared out a window and heaved a sigh, longing to return to simpler times. Still, letting go of the past can be hard. My jacket wasn’t some precious symbol of my youth —  true, but it was from my childhood. It did mean something to me, although I still don’t completely understand why.

In the end, I made my decision. Although the choice plunged my soul into existential panic, I  finally replaced my coat. I bought two new coats — both water resistant and actually in my size. 

Wearing new clothes which fit and protect me from the elements has been nice, but after a month, I’ve come to realize I’ll never have a jacket as memory-inducing like my brown one. Sure, my old coat had no special significance, and by the end, no intact seams, but it served me well all the same. Now, it’s time for a new beginning.

Of course, I still have my old coat, and I have been wearing it lot more than my new jackets — baby steps.

Tom Pollard is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.  He can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. 

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