Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Coat for When Hell Freezes Over

It’s supposed to get cold here this week, so I took my daughter out for a winter coat. She is a teenager, and she hates coats.

When she was a child, she hated shoes. Hated them. Shoe shopping was such a nightmare that I used to threaten to put duct tape on her feet to get her into school. She had one pair in the world she would wear, and I drove all over town trying to find that brand and style in every possible color.

The coat was like that.

I think we really did see every coat at the mall. It was not allowed to be: too long, too short, or a weird color. It couldn’t have shoulder pads, even small ones. One had “funny pleaty things that stick out.”

It couldn’t make her look like an FBI agent. Or on the way to a board meeting. Or a safari. Or look like one that her childhood Madeline doll wore (she was right about that one). Woe to the coat that made her look pregnant, fat, or like she was "wearing a dead weasel" around the shoulders.

It couldn’t have weird sleeves, oddly sized or colored buttons, or any other outstanding embellishments. The collar could be neither too big nor too small. It couldn’t be tweed. It couldn’t be leather. No plaid. No hound’s-tooth.

I asked her what she would wear. She said, “One like that girl’s.” But when I asked where this girl was, my daughter clammed up—wisely sensing that I was to the point where I would have tackled the girl and ripped the coat right off of her. Then my daughter said she wanted a coat that looked like she’d just come from skiing in the Alps. Lederhosen? No lederhosen. A ski jacket, then. But no, ski jackets are too puffy. They’d make her look fat.

As we were leaving—hot, tired, crabby, and sans coat, she took one more look at the very first ones we had seen. She tried on the one I had secretly dubbed “The British Rock Star.” It had been overlooked because the buttons were too shiny, even though I’d assured her I would personally rip the buttons off with my teeth and sew on whatever buttons she wanted.

In the end, she forgave the shiny buttons, even. It is perfect on her. My daughter, the British Rock Star.

I had it wrapped in plastic, but she took it out and wore it home.

Maybe it’ll be like the sparkly purple snow boots she got when she was nine. She loved them so much, she wore them to bed for days.

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

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