Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stephanie's Jacket

I knew that when I came back to New York, the coldness of the winter would numb me. I craved numbness as a physicality, to export me from the worries in my head and into a space of longing for my body. With the majority of LA's weather being dry heat, I had no need for armor. Yet, somehow my arms longed for dressing.
I had been as steadfast and vulnerable as possible in California, jumping over hurdles and taking on endless challenges - keeping my head above water was not easy in a new unknown land. California itself has been a sore spot for my family ever since my cousin Stephanie passed away in San Francisco a few years ago. Although I did not know her on the level I desired given the large age gap between us, she was filled with desirable qualities and an intriguing nature. Stephanie was a decade older than me when it happened. She was with her husband and friends heading out on a ski trip. She didn't want to go on that trip. Every little fiber of her being screamed to her not to be there. She didn’t listen to her whim, and when the bus hit their car, she was the only passenger who would pass away. In California I would come to feel that same feeling reverberating in the air; that whisper that said, "leave.” As each situation unfolded in the labyrinth of pretentious faces, rehearsed actors, and hungry con-artists, I felt my heart break a little each day. I knew what my heart wanted to do. It needed to leave. I also needed to listen to my body. I remember how cold it was in California when I left. It wasn't the type of coldness that numbs you. It was the type of coldness that makes you feel unnerved, teasing you with moments of dry heat and then chilling winds. When I first stepped back into my mother's house in Staten Island, I couldn't help but shed some tears. I felt the weight on my shoulders lift, a huge sigh of relief, and an impenetrable feeling of safety. My aunt, who lives nearby, was moving and she was finally ready to pass along some of my cousin's clothing. Amongst many of the articles was a long black peacoat with big shoulder pads and brass buttons. When I put the jacket on I felt a closeness to Stephanie, as if a piece of her heart lay within it. I learned from Stephanie there is no greater compass than the heart, and it's our job to protect it. Being cradled in her coat melted me in the frost-tipped gales. She was such a sweet soul; a sister soul to my own, who unfortunately never made it home.

"As sCaRed, as sillY, as joyous, as shameless, as VIBRANT, as DARK, as YOU can BE! Let it pour through you RESPECTFULLY, in the name of PEACE. We uphold TRUTH! To life a life as COLORFUL as you!" - Jaclyn Shaw ("Live Your Art" Movement)

Are you LiSteNinG??  Jaclyn Shaw's Music


  1. "..there is no greater compass than the heart, and it's our job to protect it."

  2. So sorry bout Steph :( Glad you are using it to channel some beautiful writing.

  3. Just another testament to listening to your gut!