The neighborhood around the Los Leones Metro station in Providencia is full of second hand and vintage clothing shops. They bring stock down from North America and the neighborhood is a godsend for those of us with rangy gringo builds that don't fit lines designed for the rather more petite Chilean figure.
Right now, that's me. I left my leather winter jacket in a taxi and I'm looking for a new one.
There are a lot of really lovely leather jackets in Chile - but I'm tall, and broad across the shoulders, and if the jacket doesn't fit so tight across the back that I can't lift my arms, the waist doesn't drop below my bellybutton, and the zipper won't meet across my chest, and when I ask hopefully for a larger size, I'm already wearing XL and the line doesn't go any higher.
Yesterday I went to Los Leones. I started in a store called Vintage, just off of Calle Santa Magdalena, and deep in a rack of high-eighties leather (bat-wing sleeves, malignant shoulder pads, vented fronts, elasticated waists, studs, fringe, patchwork and brocade - and every benighted bit of it on each and every jacket) I hit the jackpot. On my very first stop.
You could practically hear bells ringing. Because this was it.
This was really it - a soft suede duster, with a flared collar, and a gentle drape to the long skirt and wide split cuffs that ran almost all the way up to my elbows.
It was the sort of coat that Destiny's Child would have rocked if they'd dreamed that high. My college-aged self would have given a half a point off of my GPA for a coat like this. The Dixie Chicks would probably have thrown in a solid gold record.
It didn't fit me like a glove. It fit like a memory, like a song, you know - the one where you copied the lyrics into a notebook because they got you - got you in a way nothing else ever had before. They laid it all out like it was, and told you who you were in a way you'd always almost known, but had never quite understood until you heard that song -
That's how that coat fit.
I stood in front of the mirror and admired, and I turned one way, and then I turned the other, and then I turned back the first way again -
and I suppose one day I will be grateful to the big burly fellow with the Harley Davidson beard who was put his hand on my shoulder and said, very gently, "No. This is not a winter coat. This is not 2003. You are not buying that coat today."
It could have been. It could have been 2003. Because I have dreams.