My New Winter Coat

My New Winter Coat January 17, 2018


I confess that even though delays and cancellations for snow concern me not at all, because my children will do all the school regardless, I like to wake up in the still early hours of a snowy morning and scroll through all the weather related announcements anyway. I read each school district over to myself and imagine all those children, hoping and waiting to see Their School on the list, to hear the breath of joy and relief when they can just stay in bed. Knowing, of course, that the sheer thrill of Not Having To Go To School will propel them forth to buckets of sugar cereal. Their poor parents will look out over the long monotonous hours ahead–of taking snow suits on and off, of making vats of hot chocolate, of consoling children whose hands are red with cold–and despair. Charity restrains me from saying something sarcastic about Anthony Esolen and nostalgia here. Let us just pass quietly on into the quiet falling flakes of this week’s Snowpocalypse.

The point is, I finally have a proper coat. I have lived here now for fifteen and a half years and have always managed to survive the winter in a series of elegant garments that make a pretense of fending off the cold, but eventually, unless you stuff a lot of sweaters under them which ruins the effect, make a general invitation to all the wind and horror to go ahead and come in.

As I said in some other post, I tried to tell someone a few months ago that “I’m not from here.” Turns out that the person at whom I was chattering has lived here half as long as I have. Of the two of us, I might as well admit to actually living here. But that person was appropriately dressed for the winter–puff coat, hat, gloves, boots, the settled comfort of someone who isn’t pretending that they live in Dubai, or at least are going to be moving there in three or four weeks and so there’s no point popping out to buy those items of clothing that would mitigate against the disastrous cold. In other words, its a huge capitulation to finally have a proper coat. It means I don’t think I am really leaving. It means I’ve admitted both to myself and to the world that I know what it means to live in this place, and I’m prepared to rationally cope with it.

And who wants that? I never do. I am always prepared to pretend that I’m not in reality. I don’t need the boots and the coat because I’m Not From Here, which must mean that I’m about to go somewhere else. Or it means that I’m not cold, which is obviously not true. I am cold. Except that now I’m not.

The coat goes almost to the floor and is stuffed in a sort of quilted pattern with down feathers. And it has a hood. And two snapping possibilities–one closer in, in case you just want to throw it on and walk out onto the tundra, and one farther out so that you can stuff yourself into a thick Marisa Tomei Binghamton sweater and then into the coat for when you go to someone’s house where you know they won’t have bothered to turn on the heat because who needs that. The existence of this coat in my life means that I have shoveled my own walk three or four times, and gone to the store without crying. I guess reality isn’t so bad after all. Even if it deals a death blow to nostalgia.

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