In the Casa di Swears, there is very little closet space. No main floor closet. One small closet that Mike uses in our bedroom, one very small closet in the Blue Room (the not-spare-bedroom because there’s no bed. It’s the Yoga Studio/Study/Library/Former Video Gamer Room. And it’s blue). And one closet that we call a linen closet that’s an unholy mess of everything that doesn’t have another space to hide. Child doesn’t have a closet.
So this weekend, I decided that I would start to take control of the closet in the Blue Room (that holds outerwear when it’s not hanging on the hall tree in my tiny foyer. I pulled out all the jackets and told my gentlemen housemates that they should put whatever they wanted to keep back in the closet. Very little went back in the closet. I was a little surprised at one of the jackets that Mike had in the discard pile – his leather Junior C hockey jacket. He’s outgrown it, to be sure, but hockey was such a big part of his life as a kid, then playing shinny with various groups, and coaching Connor through his minor hockey adventures both in the Perth Lanark association and in Cambridge. Neither Connor nor Mike play at all anymore (which might change when Connor goes away to university in the fall). But the jacket has remained all this time.
My red leather Queen’s jacket got put back in. I was a full 100 pounds lighter when I got that jacket, so I have no illusions about wearing it, but I ‘m not ready to let it go. It’s oxblood red – the colour of all our faculty’s jackets. It’s made with weird textured leather – our whole cohort feels like we all have various panels made from rat scrotum leather because of some poor supply chain decisions, and they changed the style of the jacket for our year, so instead of a classic letterman style, we all have Michael Jackson Disco Prostitute jackets. I mean, Queen’s had not-ridiculous jackets for 125 years before I ordered mine, but whatever. For my awful opinion of this jacket, you’d think I’d be unmoved to part ways with it. But for some reason, there’s something that makes me put it back in the closet every time I cull my wardrobe.
He has his reasons for not wanting his jacket anymore, and I have my reasons for keeping mine (even if I’m not sure I could fully articulate that at this point). There’s certainly a nostalgic piece attached to those kinds of things. Connor got rid of all his hockey trophies earlier this year, and I mused on this very same thing. I get that when you’re no longer the person you were when you acquired The Thing, then you don’t need it anymore. You don’t need a physical thing to hold in your hand (and have to dust on a shelf) to remind you of your hockey buddies from a specific team, or your years away at school, or a hockey league in a town in which you no longer live.
Still, as a kid, I didn’t do much competitive stuff. I didn’t play sports, I did theatre. I sang, I danced. Things that resulted in the very satisfying reward of applause, but not awards. Except that time when I won a student director award at the Sears Drama Festival (and subsequently a CN Players award from my high school). I had two small comedy/tragedy mask trophies. I was very proud of them. But in a decades ago purge, I decided that I don’t do theatre anymore, so I didn’t need them. I regret that decision. A bunch of my self-worth in high school was tied up in children’s theatre, one act plays, and our yearly major show. I apparently needed that anchor to good things more than I thought at the time.
So I get my reticence at getting rid of my Queen’s jacket. On one arm, it has my pass crest. On the chest panel, my year crest. On the other arm, my course badge. And the Queen’s University motto: Sapientia et Doctrina Stabilitas (Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times). There’s a lot tied up in that jacket that I can still view as a cynosure for who I’ve become.
This Lent, may I be thoughtful about why things are important to me. And may I place importance on the right things for the right reasons.