Remorse and grief over the loss of… a leather jacket?
November 5, 2012
“Possessions possess you,” my father told me a long time ago. I forget the context but I’ve never forgotten the remark. Its truth grows on a person. The more we covet and gather things the more those same things hold dominion over us, effecting our serenity, and worse. That’s the thing with things. We become obsessed with holding on to them, adding to them, and getting more and more of them. We envy other people’s things. We covet things. In the end, we mistake the pursuit of things with the pursuit of happiness. (Oh, the irony of my chosen profession. The theme of this blog: “We make you want what you don’t need.”)
Well, I’ve just lost something and it’s driving me crazy. Over twenty years ago I purchased a vintage leather jacket from a boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. It had belonged to someone in the air force during the Viet Nam war, circa 1971. A busted-up and beautiful thing, it fit me like a glove. Over the years I had the fur collar replaced and the leather treated by a specialist in New York. Next to my Motobecane Grand Touring bicycle it was my oldest possession. I adored it.
And now it’s missing. I’ve looked everywhere. Likely, I left it at a restaurant or a hotel room and, though I’ve checked them all, someone undoubtedly found my thing and kept it. My thing now belongs to another person.
Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Losing that jacket has filled me with remorse. I wallow in it like a child who’s lost his teddy bear. Losing my leather is not the same as losing a person or a pet but it’s still pretty awful… I think about all that has been lost to so many on the East Coast: entire homes and everything in them, treasured photographs, computers filled with slide shows and images. I can’t imagine the average layman in New Jersey used the Cloud. And even if they did there is no backup for precious wedding gowns or Grand Father’s Purple Heart. Gone forever. They have experienced real loss.
Some solace in knowing that I was not the jacket’s original owner. Likely, there were several and that the first one was a young soldier, far more deserving of it than me. Still, that old jacket was like a second skin. Without it I feel vulnerable. Crisp fall days have an unpleasant sting. I’m left cold and less cool.