This morning I went to work without a coat on. I exercised* before work this morning and even after taking a shower, I was overly warm. I had dressed myself in three layers (camisole, long sleeve black top and a drape-y/wrap-y sweater) and couldn’t deal with putting any additional warmth on my body. Checking the weather, I decided to risk the one and a half block walk to work without a coat.
I could hear my mother’s voice in my head as I walked to the elevator. It was the same voice that would always comment when she saw kids walking to school in winter wearing shorts instead of long pants (that particular sartorial choice always left her gasping in outrage and demanding to know where the mothers of those children were). This morning, the voice stated in astonishment, “Where is your coat! How could my child be going outside in February without a coat?”
Still brushing away the echos of my internalized mama, I stepped onto the elevator. There was one other person on there before me, a stylish woman that I’ve seen in the building for years. She’s in her late sixties and often reminds me of my grandmother, with her oversized sunglasses and gold jewelry.
She took one look at me, raised an eyebrow and asked in a way that made it sound less like a question and more like gospel, “Aren’t you going to be cold?”
It was as if she picked up on the thought process I’d been having with myself only moments before, and so before I could stop it, a flurry of excuses tumbled out of my mouth.
“Well, I only work a block away, and I exercised this morning so I was really warm, and I couldn’t figure out what coat to put on with this sweater and, well, it’s not supposed to be too cold today.”
My eyes has found the floor during this confession, partly in an attempt to avoid indicting myself any further through visual contact and also because I felt a little ashamed, because she was right, I might just be cold and I knew it. It was like I was back in middle school, choosing not to wear a hat in winter because I didn’t want my bangs to be crushed.
When I finally did look up, she was gazing at me with a bit of worry, as if she had gotten in far deeper than anticipated with a simple question. By this time we were nearing the lobby.
“I was only asking because I thought maybe you worked in the building.”
“Oh. Nope, I’m just a block down Ludlow Street. But I know my mother would appreciate that you asked. She’d kill me if she knew I went out without a coat.”
The woman laughed and I laughed, and we both headed off the elevator and into our days.
*I recently started doing (if doing it twice counts as doing) Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred DVD, which kicks my ass in a very good way. I did it for the first time on Monday and it took me three days before I was walking normally again. Here’s hoping for shorter recovery periods from here on out.