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December 12th, 2007

Jean jacket nostalgia

Visiting my family becomes less and less of an occurrence as my professional career becomes more and more demanding.  Is this what they mean when they use the term ‘adult’? Wow, being an adult is over-rated.  I guess that is what I get for living across the country from my beloved family.  And though I know their voices are constantly at my fingertips with a few taps on a dial, there is something so much more satisfying when within physical reach.

As the occasion of visiting home becomes few and far between, the potency of each visit gains strength.  The little bits of nostalgia are more apparent, seemingly jumping from the cracked closet doors, the dented dresser tops, and the stained carpets as we continue to collect more memories with each moment together, adding to the ever-expanding vault called life.  The shape of each visit becomes an amoeba, shifting with the present prominent details in each other’s lives. Such is growing, such is becoming an adult.

I was running down the stairs to my basement; the basement which at one point was my imaginary safari where I would watch zebras run by from my make-shift tent which consisted of couch cushion’s and bed sheets stolen from the laundry room. The same basement which once was my gymnasium fully equipped with my Dad’s old bed on which I learned how to do a back handspring and an aerial; the basement that was once cleared out to become my dance studio where I choreographed Janet Jackson’s next music video.  This time, I was running downstairs to the basement to grab some single malt scotch.  (Yes, even the places metamorphous alongside with us from childhood to adulthood.)  As I entered the back room where the coveted single malts awaited our parched lips and eager tongues, I saw my Dad’s old jean jacket hanging limply from a clothes line, seemingly suspended in thin air.  This old jean jacket was his yard working jacket and had always hung there isolated for its sordid character as it was stricken with grass dirt, and oil stains—too dirty to hang with the other jackets in the premier closet next to the front door.  I had passed by this jacket numerous times; I actually don’t remember a time it did not hang in the same spot, with the exception of when it had been worn in the yard, which is exactly what made me stop. 

I inhaled the ominous sent of fall leaves as a Wisconsin autumn wind came rushing through my senses.  I was transported back to the many months of my childhood, raking up the fallen leaves into a neat pile with my Dad only to jump in them making the job that much more fun and that much more work. I used to bury my Dad in the huge leaf pile to the point where he suddenly became missing.  And though I knew he stealthily lurked underneath the hand-made canopy, there was no telling when he would choose to reveal himself.  I would become so anxious to see him pounce from the invisible realm into my reality that no matter how much I knew that is was only my Dad, in my mind I created such an epic suspense thriller that I would squeal at the top of my lungs to my Dad’s sudden reach from the undetected dominion.

Looking at this jean jacket I thought back through all my jean jackets in life.  I am not sure there was a year when I did not have a jean jacket as staple to my daily spring and fall attire.  Back in the 80s I wore an acid-washed jean jacket with strategic rips and frays, matching tight acid-washed jeans and converse low tops, a hot pink sweatshirt that fell off one shoulder underneath, and topped with my hair in a ponytail tied high and to the side. 

Later in the same decade I went with the all-white jean jacket.  Yeah, those were the days of Miami Vice, when Don Johnson was every girl’s heartthrob.  My hippie years commenced during high school when everything was patch-worked and stains just emphasized the element of green.  I did not don the dread locks until I reached college, probably because my parents wouldn’t let me; while I still lived under their roof I had to abide by their rules!  I have to admit, I think I wore my Dad’s yard work jacket on more than one occasion during those days.  Then came my later, more mature and socially conscious college years when everything was about the B&B, Boys and Bars; studying came secondary. During those days it was a fitted dark blue jacket that hit me right at my jean line which flirtingly revealed a bit of skin which was coyly hidden underneath a temporary dressing.

Jean jackets have never gone out of style.  They have always been a staple, much the same as their counter part which resides on our lower half; maybe it is the whole ‘jean’ of things?  Maybe it is due to all the different subtleties we can add to the basic denim medium that make the jean jacket chic throughout the decades?  Maybe it is the sense of nostalgia that the jean jacket creates every time we slip it on over our tank tops, ratted T-shirts, and off-the-shoulder hot pink sweatshirts?  Or maybe it is simply the dried autumn leaves that fall from the tattered pockets of life?

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