The Joys of a Misspent Youth

Posted by on Dec 8, 2009 in Reckless youth | 0 comments

My symbol of my youth was my brown suede jacket. I wore it until the lining was tattered to shreds and it had a lot of bare places on the suede, plus some water spots I couldn’t remove. I bought it when I was in college in Georgetown using the checkbook my Mother gave me. I don’t actually remember when I got rid of it. I guess it was a casual thoughtless farewell, just like I gave a lot of other things I wish I had now. I associate the jacket with places I went and things I did, like sitting on the grass at in San Francisco watching the fireworks explode over the Golden Gate Bridge. I wore it during my first pregnancy until the cold wind of New York became too bitter, and my belly a bit too round. The picture up there is me wearing the jacket and holding my first born on my hip. I remember dropping the jacket on the floor in a pile, right inside the door of a tiny apartment carved from an enormous house on Monument Avenue in Richmond. The room had had pre civil war windows that reached floor to ceiling with curved glass that had been pressed into that shape before my grandfather was born. The kiss I gave the man who brought me there that night wasn’t as historic the house, but it was a milestone in my newly single life.

I still had the jacket when I met my current husband, although it was a bit the worse for wear. Without my mother’s magic checkbook I had been unable to replace it over the years. I didn’t wear it the night we met because even though it was February, the weather was unseasonably warm. I was quite comfortable in my black sweater and those famous purple pants. We went for a ride in a car he hoped would impress me, a less than pristine 68 Mustang convertible, the symbol of his youth. He took me to an artesian well that was set in the center of the city, in the midst of a park. I remember walking along the wall that was three feet above the level of the spring and him stepping down, and then lifting me after him with his hands circling my waist. I skittishly backed away when my feet touched the ground and missed the kiss I’m sure he intended to give me. The car would have impressed me more if the seats hadn’t had an inch layer of dog hair on them, but he only found that out many months later. He sold the car before our first child was born with great wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was something he felt he had to do in order to grow up and accept the responsibility of fatherhood. I never really understood how much the car meant to him or I would have insisted he keep it.

I decided to go shopping for a new suede jacket, but as I walked down the aisles where every type and variety hung in abundance, I didn’t buy one. I admit I was looking for my jacket, the one I tossed so casually aside, and something else that was not hanging in the store, my freewheeling youth. Over the years I have heard my husband lament the loss of the car. I asked him one day not long ago if he would consider buying another one. He got a far away look in eye and turned unusually serious for a while. I knew if he didn’t have that mustache I would have seen the corners of his mouth turned down. “No”, he said sounding sad, “I couldn’t replace it.” I knew what he meant, and I knew why I didn’t find the jacket I wanted too.
I made my nephew a stuffed rabbit when he was a baby. I used scraps I had from a yellow crepe dress, and odds and ends of orange wool and some brown velvet to dress it in a waistcoat. He had long floppy ears, a rakish look about the eyes, and sat alert and smiling on his haunches with a soft and friendly appearance. Who knows what attracted my sister’s child to that particular animal with all the other toys he had in abundance? I’d like to think he recognized the love and time I put into the crafting of the bunny, but we know children have no such concepts. In fact, I made my niece, my brother’s child, a beautiful little rag doll with several changes of clothing, requiring hours of time I did not have. She told me later that she hated the doll. Children are honest that way, so I wasn’t offended. I was delighted that my nephew fell in love with “Rabbity” and would not sleep without it snuggled next to him. One day my sister called me in a panic. “Rabbity” had been lost and was there any way I could make another so her child could get a good night’s sleep? At that point in time the scraps that I had made him with were long gone, and while I did try with other material, the new bunny was immediately rejected. Some things once gone are irreplaceable, like my suede jacket, my husband’s blue convertible, my nephew’s rabbit, and the days when we were young and sometimes careless, spending life as if we were millionaires, never even asking for the change.

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