Years have slipped through my grip like grains of sand. Over the course of more than four decades, the neurons in my brain have been continuously bridging mental banks, shaping my personality in a chance progression. My self today is as much a result of experiences as it is an inherited entity. Floods of emotions have swept me by in the rush of years, raising me to new heights at times or bringing me down to the abyss of despair. I have survived the onslaught of variables not necessarily by will power but rather through long term conditioning affecting not only me but all the human species.
I was on the edge of consciousness when I found myself wearing a dark blue Montgomery jacket (known also as a Toggle or Duffle coat). I certainly did not choose it, I was barely five. My memories of that period are understandably vague but I do remember my jacket vividly. A couple of winters later, my mother brought me a replacement because the Montgomery wouldn’t fit anymore. I cried, not wanting to give up on it. The sleeves were too short and the zipper wouldn’t close any longer. I kept holding on to it, stretching the leather loops around the large toggle buttons to their limits. My childhood jacket was gone and successively replaced by one piece of garment after another with the passage of time.
With the passage of time, too, I made new friends and lost old ones. In search of greener pastures, getting away from suffocating and overwhelming circumstances or simply fulfilling their dreams, my friends are scattered across the four corners of the world. From Melbourne in Australia to Los Angeles in California and dotted here and there in Europe, Africa and Asia, my friends are working, enduring and thriving. I have not seen my kindergarten buddy in almost forty years. He came home a few times I understand, and when he actually made it to Tartous once and asked about me, I was away in the States.
With the wool jackets, anoraks, blazers, rain coats and parkas I’ve worn and lost, friends made their entry into my life and then disappeared.
It was within the last decade that my friends and I were able to find each other again, thanks to the Internet. An inquiry from here, an email from there… names, faces and voices started to pop up on computer screens at odd hours of the day and night. My friends were making a comeback into my life, adorning it with bliss and happiness. I know about their children progress in school, they know about my new apartment, I know about their backyard gardens, they know about my Sile. We are Skyping each other and exchanging video clips of the little things that make up a life. We have found each other in Cyberspace.
I was also able to place an online order for a large dark blue Montgomery jacket. The Canadian store acquired it from the Czech Republic and it had finally arrived in a brown plain looking package. With trembling hands I opened the wrappings and took a long look at my new old jacket. It was like hitting the rewind button on a VCR in play mode, but even better. I could almost smell the classroom chalk, taste the candy in my pocket, and feel the warm embrace of mother covering my head with the hood and buttoning the large toggles.
I will wear it again and hopefully for many years to come as I doubt it very much that I will either grow in size or brain neurons anymore.
My life will never run short on memories. I await the first cold spell to hit my town so that I can wrap myself again, in my Montgomery jacket.