My most precious possession is a hand-me down blue leather jacket. It was bought in Disco Beach, which is also my birthplace, from a store which still exists today, approximately in 1974. Incredible as it may seem nowadays, it’s not imported. I picture myself at a very old age showing it to my nephews and explaining to those kids of little faith that there was actually a time when clothes were not made in China and our textile industry was second to no one.
When I tried it on for the first time I was about 16. Dad said he would never have expected his daughter to wear it one day. That was not because it was a man’s jacket – it is in fact unisex. It wasn’t even because it wouldn’t fit me: I was surprised to see how thin he was in his 20s. It fit me perfectly, and I was a skinny teenager. That piece of clothing was from the time before he developed a pot belly. There was a different reason for his comment: he didn’t think he was ever going to have any children. My parents had been married for over ten years when I was born, and had lost the hope. Then one day, when they were packing to go camping in the former Yugoslavia, my mother found out she was expecting. Summer holidays had to be canceled, but of course they didn’t care.
Sixteen years later, there I was: wearing the jacket while riding my purple scooter. This is why I have nicknamed it the “Miracle Jacket”. I have always loved leather jackets, and this has a symbolic value attached to it, so it’s twice as precious to me. I’ve had many similar items, but I seem to lose them all: the buckskin jacket I had as a child, wich I outgrew; the light brown one which got spoiled by the dry-cleaner, who refused to refund me for months in spite of the damning evidence (color had changed from brown to gray and there was even a patch, and it didn’t even look like leather any more but cloth, which made my mother believe it had been swapped); the designer white one which I forgot on a bus in the Dirty Old Town; the black one with the black and white dotted lining which I left at some train station. All got lost, dropped or damaged, except the Miracle Jacket. It is true I’m a bit careless, but light coats are garments with a big losing potential: their being worn in spring and autumn doesn’t help. You leave home unsure of the weather, and take a light jacket just in case, but then it’s too warm and you take it off, hang it somewhere or hold it on you arm, and forget it. Actually, I still have the brown one I bought lately (but I don’t know how long it will last. Knowing myself, I’d say its days are numbered).
Unlike most old items one could find in the basement or in a dusty box on top of the wardrobe, the jacket is completely odourless. It’s short and tight, but shoulders and sleeves are a bit loose. It’s dark blue and one button is missing from one of the cuffs, and another one from a breast pocket. The lining was torn and then repaired: like the zips and buttons, it is in the same color of the leather. The collar ends are pointed, in perfect Seventies style. It looks worn and is a bit faded at the seams, but in overall good conditions. It looks kind of badass: Fonzie would have looked good in it.
At the beginning I used to match it with flaired trousers, taking advantage of a revival in the 90s. Now that bell-bottoms have faded again into oblivion or some charity dumpster, I seldom wear it, but it’s always with straight fit or boot cut jeans.
I have a picture of me in it on the Eiffel Tower. In Paris and other big cities the Miracle Jacket saved me from muggers. I used the front pockets as a safe place to keep money: being robbed is unlikely if you keep valuables in the front.
Also, I have a photo taken by someone who used to be very important for me. It was taken in Disco Beach. Now none of the feelings I used to associate to that pictures matter any more; however, I still treasure the portrait because it features the Miracle Jacket.
There is only one evidence of the thing being worn by its original owner. My father has it on at my first birthday: it’s in the picture where I blow off the candle. Well, it’s actually mum holding me and blowing from behind, but I seem to believe it. The jacket looks black, but it’s definitely it, as vintage-looking as dad’s longish haircut with big sideburns. He had healthier, shinier hair than me.
I’ve been married for several years now, and we haven’t got any children. Like in my parent’s case, it wasn’t a choice. There’s a concrete possibility that no one will inherit the blue leather jacket. Maybe one day I’ll give it to my child and say: “I would never have thought…”, but if this doesn’t happen, no doubt it will be tossed. Being old, it will surely be one of the top things to qualify for the bin. After my demise, it will be lost in a massive pile of things that once belonged to me, and I’ve no idea who will be the person to sort all that stuff. I don’t envoy that guy at all, because it will be an operation of titanic proportions: much better to throw away the whole stock. After all, most of it will be yellowed books, badly written notes, obsolete electronics and mature women clothes. A heap of garbage, except the books. But anyway, I know how much people value books around here.
Written in response to Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure