In the left pocket of my well-worn and beloved leather jacket, there is a small, smooth, silver object. It is my oldest son’s first iPod shuffle, from back when they were still rectangular. He ordered it after his bar mitzvah and had it engraved with his secret moniker at the time, “Agent 0.2”, in honor of his then-hero, Washington Wizards player Gilbert Arenas.
He had ordered the Shuffle online, and watched its slow and painful progression on the FedEx website as it made its way to our house in Maryland. The day it was delivered, we weren’t home and we received a note saying that we could either pick it up at a FedEx station about 30 minutes from our house, or we could call the next day for another pickup. My son was so desperate to get his iPod, I threw all three kids in the car and drove in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to the depot so that we could pick it up.
He was overjoyed, and I felt that I had gone above and beyond the call of mom duty. It was good.
About two months later, in the middle of working at home and doing laundry in between client emails, I suddenly heard something clanking in the dryer. When I went down to take the clothes out of the dryer, my son’s Shuffle fell out of the machine.
Needless to say, that was the end of the Shuffle. I felt so bad for my son’s loss that I actually brought this little music player, which cost all of $50 or so, to the Apple store to ask the nice people at the Genius bar if there was any chance of restoring it. They smiled kindly and suggested we just buy another one – and thus I was introduced the era of disposable gadgets.
I put the Shuffle back in the pocket of the leather jacket I had been wearing that day, and promptly forgot about it, as did my son. He moved on quickly, decided to upgrade and bought himself a Nano.
That must have been the last time I wore the jacket before the summer, because when I put the jacket back on in the fall, months and months later, there was the engraved Shuffle, still sitting, waiting for restitution to a useful state.
I liked the feel of it in my pocket, and just kind of kept it there. I would finger it as I walked to the metro, when I went to the grocery store, when I was standing on the sidelines at my younger son’s soccer games. It reminded me of those eager and almost innocent days of my older son’s early adolescence, of his decision to engrave this little piece of metal with something meaningful to him at the time, and of his pride in being able to spend his own money on something that he wanted so badly.
In short, it was a little memory keeper, and I let it stay there, living in my pocket season after season. It is a well-worn amulet now, and I look forward to it greeting my left hand whenever I put the jacket on.
This past fall, the right hand pocket of my leather jacket inherited its own trinket. I was one of the parent chaperones on my 5th grader’s field trip to the power plant. We were required to use disposable earplugs when we entered the plant, which the kids thought was incredibly cool. When we emerged from the loud plant, we took them out and I tossed them in my pocket.
Sure enough, once my jacket got hung up later that day, the earplugs somehow stayed in that pocket. And once again, I didn’t wear that coat again for several weeks. When I put it on again for the first time when I was on an international trip, I discovered the earplugs. They gave me great comfort as I traveled for two weeks without my family, their spongy yellow rubber offering relief from any nervousness with a physical caress. They were like worry beads, and they reminded me of that fun field trip and the special time I spent with my little boy.
So my pockets now hold two reminders of my children. I like having these secrets accompany me on my days – I stick my hand in either pocket and I am transported to the moment in my child’s life when that little accouterment found its way into my coat. I’ll rub it and finger it and enjoy both its physical and emotional presence.
Now I just need a little piece of my daughter’s life to migrate into one of the two pockets of my jacket and I will have all I need to keep my children in my mind and close to my heart for as long as I want to keep these little talismans in my life. Perhaps she’ll tire of wearing a barrette or a hairband someday soon...
Photo by decaf via Flickr