Mom’s Voice: My Old Raincoat

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Blue-Umbrella-In-The-RainI’m standing on the curb at San Francisco International Airport. It’s a typical San Francisco grey, chilly day. The forecast promises the sprinkles will give way to a heavier rain in the afternoon.

Lisa, my college roommate and friend for two decades, pulls up to where I’m standing, rolls down the window and is laughing.

“You are not wearing that coat!” she exclaims.

In college, we coincidently had matching thigh length navy blue Eddie Bauer raincoats with a hood that could be snapped off, multiple Velcro pockets on the outside, and a plaid wool lining.

That was circa 1989. This was 2011.

“Why wouldn’t I?”  I reply, and wonder to myself.

I’m pulling down the zipper, which I replaced years ago after the original one had broken. I take off the coat and throw it in the back seat with my bag. We’re chatting about other things now as I get settled in the front seat. But really I’m still wondering about the coat. I’m slightly confused and I feel the jolt insecurity. Is the coat totally dated? Is it ridiculous that to have an article of clothing for twenty plus years?

But now I’m on the defense. I love my coat. It’s been with me through a lot of rainy days.

1990: I am pedaling my bike fast on the UC Davis campus through dense fog on the way to class. The Velcro is pulled tight at the wrists, preventing the cold blasts of air from racing up my sleeves.

1993: I’m a graduate student walking a soaked path dotted with dripping ferns and towering Douglas-firs on the Lewis & Clark College campus in Oregon. The dull thud thud thud of raindrops bounce off my hood and shoulders, yet I am dry and warm inside.  A friend calls to me and I must turn my entire body to make eye contact because my hood, like a protective awning, hangs over my entire face. The smell of misty wool after some drops find their way into the lining of my hood mixes with pine and wet soil. A perfume sweeter than any that can be bottled

1994: I’m a newlywed, with my husband and our dog at Terwilliger Park in Portland.   The wet path deep within the small forest is kept solid with a smattering of twigs and stones. The breathtaking canvas of greens sprawls before us in new patterns around each brilliantly soggy corner we turn. A fresh drizzle more than a rain, but without this coat, I would be soaked and shivering.

2008: It’s a downpour in Newport Beach. I have to go pick up the kids from school. I watch with the excitement of a child as my thumb presses the big snaps at the top of the coat, squeezing until I hear the pop when the two sides become one. Sinking my hand into the deep pockets I find a crumpled tissue, lip balm, a forgotten dollar and change. Bundled, I run from the front door to the car in my driveway. Can’t wait to get home and make the kids hot chocolate and marvel at the bloated gutters and deep puddles on our street.

Lisa pulls the car away from the airport and merges onto the freeway. A fun weekend awaits and we have much to catch up on.

My old blue friend lies patiently in the back seat.

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