Something I’ve been meaning to blog about, and which you’ve probably heard me say lately if you’re in any indoor setting with me ever, is Jake and his coat. How comfortable Jake is with a situation is directly related to how quickly he removes his coat. At school, Grandma’s house, and a friend’s? The coat and shoes go flying the minute he steps in the door. But on the bleachers in gyms across America, wherever 8 or 10-year-olds might play (i.e., his brothers), you’ll find him – fully coated – throughout entire basketball games.
I’ve come to enjoy the predictability and the little thrill of seeing his fingers inch their way to the zipper should he decide to settle in.
I also enjoy the poetry, the empathy I feel for that need to reserve whatever part of yourself you can from getting sucked into a moment you’re not all that cool with. It’s familiar, because in other ways – I do it too. I think we all do. We carry things with us or hold thoughts inside that we know for sure no one can take from us. They may not even know about them.
In elementary school I used to pretend if I touched my ear I could hear my stuffed animals at home hanging out in my room. (Proof that I thought of Toy Story first). Now I carry a big purse that I love, with my iPod inside and my day planner (filled with much more than just what’s happening on Tuesday), and even sometimes the book I’m reading – just to know it’s there. Jake takes a toy from home almost every single day. He shows it to everyone on the way in and then compliantly puts it in his backpack for the duration of the school day. Drew often does the same thing. John wears about five million of those colored rubber bracelets every day, including one that says his name. Michael just switched from standard issue black boots at work to nice Cabelas brown he bought for himself. And, seriously, this isn’t even the half of it. Right? I mean thumb tacks were probably invented by the first person to get assigned a cubicle. “You want me to work at that particle-board desk with gray walls? Sure thing, but I’m putting up a picture of Spring Break 87 and my trusty dog who waits at home every day for me and never steals my stapler.”
In little ways, all the time, we find a way to keep our coat on. Which makes it all the more miraculous when you find those places or those people with whom you want to take it off.