This was my creative writing class home work for the 8th October 2019. We were asked to write about an item of clothing.
It was my therapist’s idea to get me thinking more positively and less about suicide. I’d mentioned that I’d had a tolerably happy childhood before the depression set in in my late teens. She suggested I focus on some aspect of my youth that made me happy. Could I think of, perhaps, an article of clothing that I could associate with fond memories? My mind went back to the coat I wore everywhere for about 5 years. I got it when I was 14. It was a white double-breasted trench coat as worn by film noire American private detectives. It had sculpted panels front and back and a collar that I always had turned up. The panels were embellished with brass rings. It had a broad buckled belt pulled tight round my waist. As I grew over the next few years the coat got shorter and shorter so by the time I was 17 it had gone from knee height to mid-thigh. Over the years it became increasingly grubby, by then a variegated pattern of dirty greys and dubious beiges. The belt and collar were frayed and some of the brass rings had disappeared. But I still wore the coat. My friends used to joke about it and it was often a source of friendly banter. My first casual girlfriends didn’t object to it and it became very much a symbol of my persona; happy-go-lucky, mildly rebellious and self-assured. I had many adventures with it – hitchhiking back from all night parties around London, sleeping on the beach at Brighton. I once travelled all the way to Kidderminster in the boot of a car for a party. I was always good for a laugh and usually somewhere near the centre of the action. As I recounted this a glimmer of a smile crossed my face, reflected back to me by an encouraging smile from my therapist. But then I remembered how devasting it had been when my coat and I got parted. It was not the loss of the coat as such but the traumatic circumstances. With a shock of realisation, I knew that this had been the beginning of all my problems. The coat became a reminder of everything I’d lost.