Friends north of the Mason-Dixon line would laugh out loud had they seen my two daughters Monday morning.
In case you don’t remember, Monday morning was that first glorious morning of ever so slightly cooler temperatures.
When my daughters and I went outside, they both darted back in quickly.
They returned after a moment wearing jackets.
After all, the thermometer was below 80 – clearly, jacket-wearing weather in Louisiana.
The girls insisted on keeping the jackets on, even though the air-conditioner kicked on inside. What really got my attention was the specific jacket my 13-year-old daughter, Greer, had chosen to wear.
Every fall since she was in second grade, she has pulled that jacket out on the first day it turned cool. It is the jacket she has worn for far too long but refuses to give up. I’m embarrassed to admit that I bought the jacket for her when she was 7. To be sure, she’s nearly doubled in size since then.
Second grade to seventh grade covers quite a growth spurt. The strangest part about this jacket is that neither of us remembers it being particularly big for her back then. I don’t understand how it fits her now, but somehow it does. She smiles as she puts it on and doesn’t want to take it off.
We talked about the jacket this week. Some of what she said surprised me.
“The first time I wore it in second grade, we played in leaves. I put leaves in my pockets. I had crumbled up leaves in my pockets for the next two years,” she said.
And proceeded to turn the pockets inside out in search of tiny pieces of leaves.
“See, I found another piece of a leaf,” she said as she held a brown speck up in the air like a tangible piece of pixie dust.
Maybe they were magic leaves.
She recounted other major events that occurred while she was wearing that jacket, including, “In third grade, I wore it to an opera with Charlotte. I wore it to Washington, D.C. in fourth grade. I wore it to my best friend’s garage sale in fifth grade. I wore it to the church’s Halloween camp-out in fifth grade too.”
But mainly she remembered wearing it in second grade and playing in the leaves.
And she doesn’t want to let that go.
As we talked, her sentimental edge was hard to miss. She reminded me of a Barry Manilow song — and I mean that in a good way (with no reference whatsoever to Copacabana). Think: “I write the songs that make the young girls cry.”
Greer didn’t cry over the jacket she’s outgrown, but something about the whole scenario made me remember more of what it was like to be 13 than I have remembered in a long while.
This week she and I searched high and low for her a new jacket. She was a reluctant shopper. Begrudgingly, she finally agreed to one.
Maybe when it arrives, she and I will find a giant pile of leaves and do our best to create some new leaves in her pockets.