The morning air was frigid, sending chills up my spine as I briskly walked to the train stop. I could feel my nose and ears turning red in anger towards the freezing wind, but eventually they settled after I stopped underneath the heating lamp. Several other frozen figures waited anxiously for the train to make its appearance around the corner.
I closed my eyes and hung my head back to feel the warmth of the lamp on my face. It was soothing. Footsteps rustled and bags shifted as the unmistakable sound of a train horn made its way to the platform. We all filtered into the train doors as soon as they opened, reveling in the sudden warmth of the train.
I sat next to the same lady as I always did at 6:07 AM in the morning. She was small in stature with brown hair wisped into a bob. She never looked up from her game of solitaire on her phone as I placed myself beside her. She was clutching her usual silver travel mug in her lap and the scent of Folgers’s and too much powder Coffee Mate surrounded me once again.
The light rail lurched forward, sending a few unsuspecting “train surfers” tumbling forward. It feels like some sort of unsaid standard that if you want to look cool when riding the light rail, one must not utilize the handrails. That is, until you almost biff it. Then it is recommended to avoid further humiliation.
The shadows of lampposts fly by creating short spurts of interrupted sunlight. As it flashes across my face, I catch a glimpse of a young man’s jacket. It wasn’t hard to spot, being it was bright red. But I couldn’t help but notice the slight cracks in the leather. They appeared to be concentrated around his shoulders, indicating a heavy use of a backpack of sorts. The others were in the middle of his chest, where it bends when he sits down.
But the strangest thing about it, was that this jacket was incredibly well worn, but definitely not by that young man. I could tell by the way the jacket puffed out on his shoulders and was stretched around the bottom of the jacket. Like somebody much larger and older than him originally wore this jacket.
My imagination took hold and I wondered if it was a son wearing the jacket of his father. Or a brother wearing the jacket of his older brother. Or the grandson wearing the jacket of his grandfather. A jacket that has been used and abused.
Used and abused. My thoughts immediately shifted. I wish they would stop doing that, taking a mind of their own and remembering things I would rather leave in the past. But I can’t help it. Nobody really can. When I’m alone with my thoughts on a 25 minute trip to work on a quiet train, it becomes nearly impossible to resist.
I wonder if he actually cared. Or did he just use his loving words to fill the blanks of a relationship he knew wouldn’t last. But I knew from my better judgment that he most certainly didn’t care in the least. I was just the crazy one that fell too hard too fast. But I would rather be the “crazy one” than the one that used another person for their own self-confidence and abused the relationship. How could a person lie like that to another person? How could somebody tell you to your face that you’re special and then dump you like yesterday’s garbage?
But I guess that’s why I moved on and found somebody else. Somebody who looked at the red leather jacket of my heart and saw something so used, so bent, so tattered, but still saw its worth. Still decided that it meant something to them and that’s why they will hold on to it for years to come.
Because of their love for possibly a father, a brother, a grandfather, and, in this case, a girl whose heart had been broken.
Because that somebody saw her heart as a used red leather jacket. It will still keep you warm from the blistering winds. It will still cost you a few bucks at a thrift store. It will still remind you of the good times or the bad. And it will still stand out amongst a crowded train at 6:07 AM.
However, the red leather jacket, like my heart, will always remain “used”.
But maybe this time, not abused as well.