Last night I came home from work and managed to get myself totally and utterly trapped in my coat. It’s a fitted, women’s Spyder-brand ski jacket that I adore and somehow, the zipper became hopelessly stuck after swallowing part of the liner in its tiny little teeth, turning itself into a mangled mess.
At first it was no big deal. “Dangit!” I muttered as wiggled around the apartment trying to unzip it in different ways, pull it this way, yank it that. Everything I did was only making it worse. I took a breath and took off my boots, set down my bag, and found my way to a bright light to have another go.
Nothing. More gridlock. OBNOXIOUS gridlock.
I felt myself beginning to panic as it hit it me that I was totally and utterly trapped. It’s warm, thick, down filling was starting to feel more like a straightjacket than a ski jacket, and I was beginning to sweat, feeling claustrophobic. It didn’t help that I had walked in the door already crying, for reasons I myself was not quite sure of. It had been a day full of weirdly hard things that had hit out of nowhere and I had been emotionally sinking, fast. I wanted nothing more than to rip off my clothes, wiggle into my coziest PJs, and curl into a tiny ball on the lap of my couch and promptly hide under a blanket. None of this could happen while trapped in my ski jacket.
As I continued tugging, three thoughts flashed through my mind: 1) I am alone. 2) If I can’t get out, what the fuck am I doing to do? 3) Jen, CHILL. Just try again.
OK. Regroup. Go. A louder “DAMMIT!”, more wiggling, more pulling; I even tried the soft, gentle, “I’ll just work with it and set my intentions” approach – NOTHING. Total zipper gridlock, up high near my throat, starting to make me feel choked.
I wondered if this was the kind of situation that would be considered emergent enough to knock on a neighbor’s door and ask for help. (No…Can’t do that; the neighbors are weird and smoke too much pot, probably high). SCISSORS. There’s always scissors. Should I cut it off? This jacket was expensive. You can’t cut it off. Yes I can. No, you can’t. Shit.
Three more thoughts went through my mind: 1) What if I’m ALWAYS alone? 2) I’m going to die in this ski jacket. 3) I remembered something Tina Fey once said about living alone: If you choke on your food, you’re screwed. You could just die right there, choking, alone in your apartment – and no one would even know.
The jacket, formerly my beloved comfort and protection, was now mocking me with ruthless cruelty. “Where’s your partner, now, Jen? Eh? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to help you with this right now? You don’t, do you? BAHAHAAHAHAHA!!!”
I began to cry harder, fully aware that I wasn’t actually dying but feeling like I might, still confused by the onslaught of tears, eyeing the scissors which were looking ever more appealing because THIS DAY IS JUST TOO MUCH and sometimes you just need to cut things off and call it good.
I went into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror (because clearly, one has to view oneself in such a situation for some form of self-validation). My face was puffy, my eyes red, my mouth turned down. I was hungry, tired, and trapped in my fancy ski jacket like a toddler trapped in a car seat. Helpless.
Somewhere, from deep inside, a still, small voice seemed to say, Just breathe.
I took a breath….and in that moment, my knees buckled and I dropped to the floor, weeping. Sobs began rising up and out of me as if they’d been trapped in a deep cavern, aching for air; wild to be let out. With them, wave after wave of emotion so strong smacked against the ribs in my chest to the point that I physically felt my heart hurt, as if cracks were spidering out one by one from my very core, pounding me to the point I feared that I myself might crack open.
And with that, all the feelings hit. All the feelings I am tired of feeling: stuck. alone. in need of more help than I have. The seemingly endless search for where home is in my life. The pain of another breakup. The silence of an apartment much too quiet. A sensitivity in my soul that aches, like a wound some days, making the world feel too hard, too cold to navigate.
I may not know much, but I have learned the immense value of allowing emotions to move through me when they come; the incredible power in allowing them to run their course. This won’t last forever. As each emotion came, I felt that hot, anxious feeling I’d been acutely aware of all day beginning to subside and release. Like wild animals crawling out of a cavern, each feeling clawed its way up through my heart and into my throat and out onto the cold bathroom tile with a small yelp; finally exhausted; finally finished. We were done here.
I gathered myself and stood up. With great ease and a calm presence of mind, I began slowly rolling the coat up from the bottom, turning it inside out as I went, rolling, rolling, pulling it up over my top half, holding my breath as it covered my face for a moment before yanking it off over my head with a quick tug, promptly tossing it to the floor with a soft thud.
It’s never about the fucking coat, is it?