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Pockets full of sunshine

| Wednesday, March 30, 2022

As a Southern Californian, I can’t say winter is my favorite season. As my family can attest, I like to be in shorts and a tank top whenever possible. I almost didn’t attend Notre Dame because I was so bummed out by the leafless trees I saw when I visited. I avoid wearing snow boots at all costs. But one aspect of cold weather conditions that I love is the winter coat. 

A hapless victim of female fashion’s pocket inequality and an ardent resister of carrying a purse, most of the year, I’m forced into minimalism. What I can’t squash into my four-millimeter-deep phone wallet, I abandon. What I don’t want to carry in my hands all day, I leave at home. Until winter. 

With gorgeously deep pockets even cargo shorts would envy, my hand-me-down Lands’ End puffer jacket becomes a packrat’s paradise. At this very moment, my left pocket is filled with seashells from a winter break beach walk, socks I borrowed from a friend last week before an impromptu bowling trip, four pieces of chocolate I swiped from The Observer office, a pair of AirPods and my apartment keys. In the right pocket: a velvet scrunchie, (clean) tissues stashed from when I had a cold, two mechanical pencils, berry frost flavored Pedialyte powder and a handmade valentine from my former roommate. Previous surprise reach-ins have revealed: detailed medical results and invoices from doctor’s visits, various cutlery, packs of gum, both raw and hard-boiled eggs and once, much to the chagrin of all onlookers, a napkin-wrapped corn dog.

A real-life equivalent of Mary Poppins’s bottomless bag, my parka pockets allow me to carry anything and everything I could possibly need. But more than that, the clutter that litters my pockets offers me small smiles throughout my day. When my fingers wrap around a homemade pumpkin keychain, I’m reminded of the Halloween party where my friends kept teasing me because no one could figure out my poorly executed costume. When I reach for a granola bar and instead find an Ale-8 bottle cap, I flashback to games of Super Uno in David, Kentucky, with my Appalachia seminar friends. Sure, my silhouette may stand to benefit from a deep clean of my jacket’s compartments, but if bulk is the price I pay for a portable time capsule, I’ll make the trade every time. 

My whole life I’ve been a sentimentalist, a saver, a doomsday packer. One of the first things my best friend learned about me freshman year was that, worried I’m an at-risk hoarder, I periodically throw away things I love for no reason, just to check that I still can. My phone consistently reaches the max number of tabs allowed open on Safari. My friends mock me for never deleting my emails, for systematically filing away each missive into one of 90 folders ranging from “Mom” to “Nice Stuff” to “PE Pyros 2020-21.” 

And my determination not to delete has served me well. I’ve referenced old [email protected] messages to gauge what time of year events will be happening. I’ve forwarded Sakai assignment submission confirmations to professors questioning my work’s timeliness. But now, with a looming graduation just months away, I’m realizing my time with [email protected] is almost up. What will become of the weekly polls I forced my friends to fill out before Sunday night dinners? How can I ensure I hold onto all the evites I’ve saved from themed parties? All the unimportant emails my friends and I forwarded to each other because phrases like “come for a massage, stay for a caricature” need to be acknowledged? How can I fit four years worth of memories into a coat pocket or pack them into my flight home’s carry-on?

I can’t. Try as I might, I can’t save every exchange and shouldn’t pack every pom-pom I’ve held onto from sports games. Perhaps, like I’m forced to do with my treasures when the sun comes out and the winter gear is shed, all I can do is leave my joys in the pockets where I’ve found them. ​​I can only hope to meet them again when I return.

Julianna Conley is a senior studying sociology and pre-health studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Though she is forever loyal to Pasquerilla East B-team athletics, Julianna now lives off campus. She can be reached for comment at [email protected] or @JuliannaLConley on Twitter

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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