The Story in My Coat Pockets

The Next Family

By: Barbara Matousek

Here’s a little exercise for all you writers out there:  Make a list.  Any list.  And you will find a story.  Here is my story, told through a list of items currently in my coat pockets:

A clear plastic Nuk with an orange handle, thrown into my pocket months ago in the hopes that some day my daughter would keep it in her mouth rather than spitting it out at me.  Last night at ten minutes to midnight I tried to convince her to take a similar one so that I could sleep without contorting my body and twisting my spine while she nursed.  Not sure why I still carry this one in my pocket.  Hope.  I guess.

A folded up paper bookmark with a little man looking through a gigantic telescope at the words “One World, Many Stories” and a paper coupon from the library’s summer reading program for a free ice cream cone at McDonald’s.  “It’s okay,” Sammy said to me when I picked him up from daycare and he handed it to me.  “McDonald’s doesn’t have peanuts in the ice cream.  We can go there, Mommy.  We can.  Really.  We can go there.”

A little plastic pig that Sam picked up from the floor of the Subaru as we were heading in to the daycare last week.  It is about the size of a quarter, and it has amazing detail, including perfectly formed hooves, a kinked tail and eight little teats that hang down from its underside.  Nobody seems to know where it came from and how it ended up in our car. Not even Sam.  Although when I ask Sam where anything (like the popsicle stick in the bathroom or the pile of spaghetti noodles in the living room) came from he usually says “I don’t know, Mommy.”

Kleenex.  Loads of wadded up Kleenex, some shredded from being in there for weeks, some brand new and neatly folded.  I grab some every time I leave the house because there have been more than a few occasions in which one or both of my children have sneezed or spit up or drooled or picked things out of their noses just as we were entering the real world where people don’t look too kindly on goop glistening your upper lip.

My circa 2007 Verizon Wireless Motorola Razor.  The paint is peeling on one side and the back is rubbed down to reveal the white plastic underneath on the other side.  It is worn and used, just like the pants I wear that are too long so that the edges have started to fray or my nursing bras which are so stretched that their elastic no longer really functions and I wonder why I even bother.  No money for new clothes.  No time or money for one of those fancy phones with all the apps.  I barely know what an app is.  When I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids, without all my facebook friends tagging along.

And yet I seem to be bringing all of you.

And despite having what was, I think, my first major hot flash after calling what I thought was a credit card customer service line only to later realize I had read an 8 where it was a 6 because I didn’t use my newly-acquired reading glasses when I looked up the number, I am NOT as old and worn out as all this sounds.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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