My mom bought me a black coat two months into my freshman year at Brigham Young University. Growing up in California, I’d never needed one before I moved to Utah. It was on sale at Kohl’s and the hood had fur inside, exactly what I wanted for my first winter in the mountains.
I was wearing this coat when my first requited crush and I went for a walk around campus one clear night in April, just weeks away from the end of my freshman year. “I like you, Hannah,” he spit out as we rounded the corner next to the indoor practice pool, and I played with the zipper in hopes that he’d hold my hand. I was wearing the same black coat two-and-a-half years later on a different clear night in the same town when he told me he was sorry and all I wanted to say was “I’m yours,” but I just picked at the leaves on the bushes instead.
There are holes where the pocket lining once was. I sometimes forget about them, and empty gum wrappers and lids of pens I have long since lost get caught in the lining.
I used this coat as a pillow and blanket in the library between class and under the desks sometimes even during class. Once I crawled under the desks during my Health class sophomore year and slept on the floor during the entire hour because I was tired and it was pass/fail so why the heck not.
I wore it to my grandpa’s funeral in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Idaho, even though it was probably too hot but I was scared and tired and sad. That was a long, long winter.
Once I spent 15 hours in an airport because a boy I loved didn’t love me back. I rolled the borrowed suitcase I had to the quietest corner of the main airport lobby next to a bathroom and used my coat to create a pseudo tent so I could cry alone. I slept a couple feet away from what I assumed was a homeless man, and I thought about the jacket he was wearing and if it had been with him through as much as mine had.
Junior year we’d open the basement utility closet during work and use all the clean laundry hampers as beds and I’d pull my coat over my head and sleep through my shift. I was wearing this coat the day my cell phone fell down the service elevator shaft and again on the day when we laid in the hall of the building we cleaned because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even stand up. I walked home a lot of those nights wearing my coat and humming Taylor Swift, because I was happy.
One night you picked me up in your car and I was so nervous that I doused my coat in my roommate’s perfume hoping that would make you love me, but it only made you roll down the windows.
I trekked through rain and a lot of snow and up and down a lot of different hills in this coat, to football games and through finals week and through the mountains some Saturday afternoons. I’ve used this coat as a pillow on car rides to Vegas and as a blanket during long layovers in Chicago. Sometimes I wear it around the house when I’m cold.
If you put on the hood and pull the strings as tight as you can there is a space between where the jacket ends and the hood begins and cold air creeps in under my chin.
I slipped in and out of this same coat while taking my engagement pictures because it was cold but nobody wants a ragged old jacket in their wedding announcement. You are perfect and our life together is perfect so our engagement photos had to be more than perfect, obviously.
This coat was hung over my arm when I met J.K. Rowling for the first time. I told her thank you and then I cried into my coat sleeve because she was so kind and so understanding and she gave me my whole world.
I even held a baby alligator while wearing this coat, you know.
Seven winters later, my beloved black coat is fading and pilled and old. I’ve walked in and out of countless stores looking for a replacement, but none of these new coats feel quite right. I’m probably being overdramatic but when I pull this jacket off the hanger and throw it on as I’m running out the door, late for work as usual, it’s like a hug from my past self. All the people I have hugged and known and loved, right there around my shoulders. How do I end this? I’m not sure. I should just get rid of it, right? It’s only a coat.
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Hannah, this is beautifully written and very moving. Loved it.
This really spoke to me. So moving.