The Montgomery Jacket

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.


Dubai Jazz said…
Salam Abu Fares; I was once told by a very good friend of mine, who's at least 25 years older than me, that a man should always keep the little child instilled in his heart, it helps to keep things in balance and confront hardships of life.
Very touching and vivid post, your endeavor to reunite with kindergarten buddies reflects sincerity and honesty.
Abufares said…
Hi Dubai Jazz
Your friend is absolutely right. I've been told by many that I'm childish. Not all of them meant it as a compliment of course but it makes me very happy anyway.
Anonymous said…
I think it is the child in us that keeps us sane!
I am sure you can imagine my joy when I found you again on the internet after a few years of not knowing anything about you. Very touchy post.
Abo Abdo
Syrianita said…
Abu Fares you should consider Writing your own Biography and publish it as a sure its gonna be #1 and sell :)
Abufares said…
Hi Abu Abdo Al Australi
I think my friend that you are the furthest away (in distance). You are some 8700 miles away from me.
I'm glad the internet got us back together some years ago. I'm still waiting for your blog. No matter how busy you are, I am sure you can get at least 1 post per week.
"Go ahead, make my day."
Abufares said…
Hi Soraya
Thank you for the encouragement. I do hope that one day I will be able to write a book, but not necessarily my biography. I dream of writing a novel. Up to now, I still don't have what it takes to undertake such a task. It's my belief that if and when I am able to, it'll come by its own accord without any pretense or coercion from my part.
Meanwhile, I'm real glad to have a blog where I can post some of my little and short thoughts.
Ihsan said…
I felt a chill through my body while reading it! Very warm and touchy!

Great wallahe
Karin said…
Dear friend,
I absolutely love this story ... and yes, my memory had NOT failed me (the way you had asked me)!
I can remember several pieces of clothes I hated to "depart" from ... one of them was a pair of shoes! My mother KNITTED a most beautiful coat for me when I was some two or three years old ... that is another piece of garment I did NOT like to part with!
BTW ... did I ever tell you that I know to knit socks .. and knitted some two or three pairs for myself? Mom taught me and it's fun - and NOT difficult at all!
Enjoy your beautiful Montgomery Jacket ... the fact it brings back memories is priceless!!
GREAT post dear friend!! :-)
Abufares said…
Hi Ihsan
I'm glad you liked the story. I think any good true personal story is heart warming in a way.
Abufares said…
Hi Karin
So you knit socks!!??
Huumm, I never had hand-made socks before. Does that tell you something?!
Xmas is around the corner:)
Ascribo said…
What an awesome piece of art this Jacket..I mean post, is!

I think buying an "adult" version of the Jacket was an excellent idea. I really look forward to seeing you wearing that Jacket! I'm sure I'll laugh then!

Winter is coming...
Abufares said…
Hi Ascribo
Indeed an excellent idea. I've been meaning to buy this jacket for many years, never finding it in my own size. I bought one for Fares a couple of years ago and he really liked it. Alas, I don't think it fits him anymore but I'll leave it to him to buy his next one if he so decides one day.
You missed me in my maiden wearing of the Montgomery last night. I needed to go to the neighborhood Dekkan and it was cold.
It felt so gooodddd.
Karin said…
Got the point Abufares :-) ... but - can we please make that Christmas 2007?? 2006 is too close around the corner and a TURBO-button I do not have so that I could finish one pair in only a very few days!!
For 2007 .. it will be my pleasure!! :-)
Abufares said…
Hi Karin
Believe me it was just a joke. However, if you insist, I plan to retire around 2020. You have until the Xmas of 2019 to knit the pair of socks. I guess I would need them around then.

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