04 November 2018


Sunday morning, and we are driving to Long Island to visit the newest baby in the family - my brother’s child, my daughter’s cousin.

My daughter is doing French homework in the back seat and I failed to bring a book of my own, so I’ve plunged straight into the book she’s reading in English class: The Things They Carried.

“What’s it about?” asks my husband. “The things they carried” chime Mir and I. They carried guns and photos and gravity and dope and flak jackets and bandages and pebbles.

I progress past her bookmark at page 19 and finish the first story. And make the mistake of mentioning the letters he burned. “I hadn’t gotten that far!” she wails from the back seat.

What do I carry? Lip balm and bandannas and a hair brush even though I nearly never brush my hair except before I leave the house in the morning and before I go to bed. A letter from a friend who died last year and a list of Broadway shows I’d like to see and a tiny micro tool, because you never know.

Last week, the girl rummaged around in the downstairs coat closet and found my old black suede Gap bomber jacket which I bought in the late 80s and haven’t worn in forever. It has a dark green satin lining with paisleys and a small zippered pocket on the left breast. “Check the pocket, there’s a baby inside.” She unzips the pocket, with its sharp toothy brass zipper that feels dangerous as you slip your hand past, and bingo. Tiny plastic baby.

It is a comfort to me that tiny plastic baby is still in the pocket and ever will be, even though I can’t remember where tiny plastic baby came from. But every time I wore that coat, or moved it to a new closet, I checked for tiny plastic baby, “ah yes, there she is”. Carried.