Wearing my mother’s jacket

This morning, as I left the apartment to put my travel bag in the car, I felt like I was trying on this new identity, wearing my mother’s jacket if you will.

When I was a child, my mother had the most incredible wardrobe of business suits, heeled shoes, and silk scarves. Each day she chose from an array of fabrics and prints, perfumes, and lipstick shades. Her makeup was always perfect. On occasion, I would play at dressing up: trying on those shoes for towering, wearing her jackets that smelled of 100 bouquets. This morning I felt that way again, that I was wearing the mantle of someone else, even a jacket that had been tailored just for me in a recent visit to Hong Kong. Could this wonderment really be my life or was it just a figment of my imagination? Would I look down and find my feet in shoes I did not fit?

Reality partnered with the magical. One of my colleagues was on her way to work – I live on campus and generally park near the school of education – began chatting with me about hanging out after the upcoming accreditation visit. As I was loading the car, another colleague on his way to work chatted with me about a German restaurant in San Francisco. He had remembered how I had said that I still miss Germany. He had remembered and spoken to that need. I no longer felt as if I did not belong. My colleagues were opening the door to this as reality without even realizing it.

But how exquisite, how easily reality blends with the magical. Immediately after those exchanges, I went to buy a coffee. At the campus cafe, the incredible cashier, Fernando, lifted my heart with his smile. When he went to the back, I could hear him singing boleros with a strong voice that was full of adoration. When I asked him why, he answered that life is great, but being in love helps. Hours have passed, and I am now sitting by the ocean at Asilomar. There are giant waves rolling, crashing their rhythmic and mysterious splendor. My face, even from this porch behind the shifting dunes that so remind me of what worlds out beyond this one must look like, still feels the spray carried on the chill wind. I have changed my business jacket for a thick, green fleece. All this day has been majestic. I feel myself so ordinary within it, but I suppose that is something to celebrate. Better to feel the surroundings and people at play within them are extraordinary than to feel the sting of pride with feeling extraordinary in an ordinary world.

I am here at the Asilomar Conference Center at the Curriculum Study Commission, hoping to continue to live in awe.

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