The left cuff of my trench coat is fraying. Thin, beige tendrils dangle at my wrist, at odds with the rest of my clothes, with my attempt at an otherwise polished appearance.
In one of the pockets there are two abandoned tickets – leftovers from an event, now forgotten, that I took my son to recently. I think they were food tickets. I have already worn them smooth by rubbing them absentmindedly, by throwing keys and sunglasses and gloves in on top of them.
The coat is a classic trench: beige, belted, double breasted with wide lapels. It has been a reliable staple in my wardrobe since 2004. At first glance, it looks neat and proper and it mostly does a good job of repelling the rain.
If you take a second look, though, the fraying cuff and other more subtle signs of wear begin to stand out. They symbolize all that is going on in my life and my days. I’m struggling to keep it all together, and I seem to be, unless you really pay attention.
There are things I need to take care of, errands to run, events and activities to get my son to, but then there is work, where I have mountains and mountains of things to do, enough for more than me but with only me to do them. I just manage to pull most of it off, to get done what needs to be done so that it appears I’m holding it all together, but I’m not doing my best and there are always a few things I gloss over.
I pull myself together – just – each morning so that when I stumble out the door (late) I mostly look professional. I get to work earlier than most and get a lot done while I’m there, so it’s all passable, if panicked. In the evenings, especially my son’s soccer evenings, I throw myself back through the door again and into whipping up dinner. We generally manage to make it to soccer on time and then I spend the time I should be writing or running covering my tracks, cleaning up, getting groceries, doing the dishes, making lunches. Sometimes I get a run in, somewhere, sometimes I pause to write.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s good enough – all of it, the coat and my just barely holding on. It all appears fine. Everything seems ok. I may be unravelling just a bit, and my coat definitely is, but I still give the appearance of being organized, of getting it all done, of being polished.
It’ll do for now.
Just maybe don’t look too closely.