January 4, 2024
There's a jacket in Tirana
that allows me to travel
back in time.
It found me one night
at Toptani Mall,
that eight-story behemoth
near Skanderbeg Square.
And when I saw it,
I knew that it could do the job.
I had put in a full day
writing finance blogs for a client.
I wanted something fun to do.
So, my husband and I walked 10 minutes to Toptani.
And that's when it caught my attention,
that black bomber jacket
in the Anthony Maurato store
like a gift from the gods of the underworld.
I strolled up to it,
eyed it for a second,
and removing it from the hanger,
slipped it on.
The young clerk approached.
"That jacket looks great on you."
"It does, doesn't it?"
The mirror reflected
its trim waist,
the jacket made of a black sheen material.
I felt like a powerful demon from the TV show Charmed.
The clerk could see how much I liked it.
"It's Italian. Very stylish."
I later looked at the tag and saw that it was made in China.
I took another turn.
And in the middle of checking it out yet again,
it hit me.
The sagging chin.
The tired eyes.
And the belly that used to be a 4 1/2 pack.
On the hanger, this jacket looked great.
On me, it looked like a guy in his 50s trying to recoup his 20s.
I walked over to my husband.
He glanced at it,
didn't say anything,
and walked out.
That's about as much as I can get out of him sometimes.
I called him back.
"Well, what do you think?"
He twisted his mouth,
trying to find the right words.
It's like...Las Vegas shiny."
"Ok, but does it look good on me?"
I asked hoping my instincts were wrong.
But by the second, I was feeling like the American dollar,
rapidly losing power
and about to crash.
I looked again.
And this time, I felt out of place and embarrassed
for I just realized that I was the old guy trying
to look young.
And this feeling was hitting me hard.
And not because my husband may not have liked it.
But because his reaction, or lack of, confirmed what I was thinking.
I was too old for this jacket.
I removed it and put it back on the hanger.
Maybe it's not the right style.
Maybe something more fitting my age would work.
The clerk saw that the sale was about to evaporate faster than hope for a seat on a Tirana bus.
"I think you look really good. The fit is just right."
That's all I needed.
My husband, who describes himself as Switzerland, did not intervene.
I paid the 200 Euros
and walked out to the city streets to show off my new look.
I felt like a dolled-up Cher in Moonstruck.
I ignored the sagging chin,
the belly from too many visits to the Le Bon bakery,
the bags under the eyes,
and just enjoyed it.
For I saw myself in the young men
on the streets of Tirana
whose faces were reflections
of how I felt
wearing this jacket:
cocky, confident, and unbeatable.
And every time I slip it on,
I travel back in time.