This jacket. I have been hunting for this jacket for what seems like my entire life.
When I was really little, there was a character on Happy Days named Leather Tuscadero. Played by real-life rock star Suzy Quatro, she was the little sister of the Fonz’ on-again-off-again girlfriend, Pinky. Leather was the first girl I had ever seen wear a leather jacket. I didn’t even know what it was. I just knew that Leather looked really cool. Like, wow cool. I wanted a jacket like Leather’s. Mom explained that I was too young to wear a leather jacket. Okay, I thought: I’ll wait.
If you were to step into my childhood bedroom, among posters of teen idols like Mark Hamill and Rick Springfield, were photos of really awesome women in leather jackets. I worshipped Joan Jett. I thought Pat Benatar hung the moon. I became a drummer because of a rough-and-tumble chick named Gina Schock, who kept the beat for a little band called The Go-Go’s. I looked everywhere in my hometown in West Virginia for just the right jacket, but none of them were perfect. Okay, I thought: I’ll wait.
Into college I went, and into the middle of the South I went. This is when I realized I had a thing for dudes who wore leather jackets. Smart, rebellious types. I borrowed their jackets, I tried on their love, spun around on an axis of young lust, left dizzy from the time we spent together. I was wrapped in various leather jackets as I rode on the backs of motorcycles, as we sped away toward destination nowhere in relationships that simply ran out of road. My fingers slipped across supple cowhide, let rough with longing.
I’ve looked longingly at those who can wrap themselves in a leather jacket for years. I would sit in buttoned-up corporate suits admiring women who would express themselves with tough hide jackets, body art, black jeans, shoes that commanded authority. Someday, maybe that will be me, I used to say. Okay, I thought: I’ll wait.
And one day, I spotted this washed leather piece of perfection at a warehouse sale. Would it fit? Would it say all the things I wanted it to convey? The pressure on this piece of clothing was immense: years of childhood longing, decades of trying on other lifestyles, and it came down to the courage to take this off the hanger and wrap it around my shoulders. And I did.
And just like that, the wait was over.
This is me. It feels like me. This is the woman I’d wanted to be all these years. It feels like home. It feels like what I want my life to be.
No more borrowing the leather jacket life from anyone else. Now I have my own.
All photos in this post: Giafrese