An Ode to my Puffy Vest

So I haven’t sat down to write one of these in literal months.  I’m sure you teachers know how it is–first you’re busy trying to finish up the school year, and then you’re busy trying to cram as much living into the (relatively) free months of summer, and then you’re off to the races starting a new school year.

And suddenly it’s October.  And you’re not even a hundred percent sure you remember the name of your blog…But, here we are! I’m back, and making a new start!  I won’t belabor what happening in the past six months of my (wildly interesting) life, because this morning I went for a run.  And it really felt like proper autumn.

I love autumn (as I stubbornly insist on referring to it, because why would you pass up so pretty an English word for its blasé American counterpart ‘fall’?)  I love it when the air takes on that tang, and the wind starts to sound chilly.  The world is suddenly awash with a God-made treasure trove of gold and scarlet, and I will maintain until the day I die that the sky is bluest in October.  It’s all one last chance to remember what color is before we settle into the long, dark, monochrome months of winter.

I also love pulling out sweaters and jackets and being excited about it.  (I also love putting them away in spring with equal enthusiasm…)  One of my favorite autumn-wear items is this old puffy vest I got as a hand-me-down from my aunt in late high school.  This thing is awesomely authentic vintage–a first-gen R.E.I. vest stuffed with goose down that makes you feel like you zipped yourself into a comforter and called it clothing.  It is also burnt orange.

This vest came into my possession in the early 2000’s, when adjectives like second-hand, free, and retro were definitely a way to guarantee a thing was not cool, and people hadn’t even heard of anything called a “hipster.” But, since I had what educators call a “strong sense of self,” I wore it anyway.  Because it was free. And warm. Really warm.  And I subscribe strongly to the idea that people should just get to know the real me right away, because pretending to be someone else (i.e. a much cooler person) is just so much work.

But these days, my puffy vest is something to be envied because it is the “real-deal.” This isn’t some Target knock-off.  Oh, no.  This thing is 40 years old, and still going strong. And the orange makes it cooler.

Today, I’m going to head out to the spot which is, hands down, the best place in these parts to take in the autumn foliage.  And I am pulling out my puffy vest for its maiden voyage of the season to mark the occasion.  I. Am. Stoked.

So stoked, in fact, that I was literally wandering around my house this morning, singing a self-composed commercial jingle about said-vest.  The lyrics of this jingle, which I am positive will get me nominated for a Grammy, went something like, “My puffy vest is the beeeeest.”   All you can say to that is, “Look out, Beyoncé.”  I mean, seriously.  Pure genius.

And I realized, in the midst of this, that I was really, truly giddy, and how great it is to have little moments.  In case you don’t know already, I live the Frugal-Girl life.  I don’t spend lots of money (and don’t have money to spend, even if I wanted to), but sometimes, I think that is a really great way to be.  I am elated about wearing an old vest (free) to go and look at autumn leaves (also free.)  I might buy a couple apples at the apple stand near there, but that’s it.  I love that my life is like this–that it is uncluttered enough that I can find profound joy in little things.  A crispy, autumn breeze. A warm cup of fresh-brewed coffee. An old vest. Getting a real letter in the mail.

I feel like in America, we are on this constant spiral of always wanting “more” and “new,” but More and New is just stuff.  And one day, it will be Junk and Old.  But the leaves will still be the color of gold in autumn.  The sky will still be its bluest in October.

And I will probably still be wearing my puffy vest.

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