Because when I shake out my leather jacket from where it’s been stored all summer—and spring, and all the warm days of the year—and I breathe in the scent of that jacket, that I had forgotten during those warm days, it won’t be the smell of a leather jacket.
It will be fall and it will be me and I am 23 and unassuming, cold in the crispness of the autumn evening and my jacket zipper is zipped all the way up to my chin, and I am stuffing my fingers into the pockets to keep them warm in the cab or the walk to 27th and 2nd Avenue, where I finally get to see him again after a few more weeks have passed. It is always a weeknight though because he says he is busy, so busy on weekends that I can’t squeeze in a few minutes but I don’t think twice about what he is busy doing.
Why would he be doing anything wrong, he said I was his #1 girl.
It is me shaking, a bundle of nerves in the elevator to the 26th floor and a slow walk down the hall and hesitating at the front door and walking into this place that I hate but that I want to be in. And it is me repeating the walk and elevator ride in reverse in the morning and climbing into the cab, stomach clutched and squeezing away tears I don’t want the cab driver to see, tears that pitter patter onto the soft leather of my jacket as I am stabbing words into my phone, they were always the same type of words on those mornings when I was going back to the train and back home.
Home changes from Connecticut to Virginia in the blink of an eye but I had to leave.
When I bury my face into my jacket it is me looking out the window of the 26th floor at the pouring rain and I have no umbrella so I am dashing down avenues in the downpour with my leather jacket and my purse stuffed into an industrial-size black garbage bag, knocking it into people and feeling embarrassed but wondering if he’d find it funny, me as a giant garbage-bag wielding klutz, and I’m pretty sure he did because he laughed when I texted him that.
It is me and him walking down the street and he makes fun of my jacket because he says it is trendy and I think he needs to get a grip because navy blazers aren’t the only jackets that are timeless, hasn’t he flipped through a tattered book or seen an old film where they were wearing leather jackets, too, and not only that, they were badass in doing so and maybe passersby look at me and think I am badass, too.
But truthfully I don’t care what people think when I am walking next to him in my leather jacket, or waiting in line outside a bar downtown, or sitting at dinner with my jacket slung over the back of my chair, because as long as he is next to me I am happy and while I’m not one for planning too far in advance, I can’t help but think that this feels nice and I would be quite content to feel this way for a long time.