PRECIOUS (1/2003)

I piled my extra change into my left pocket of my pale army green, garbage bag of a jacket. I wear this particular ugly jacket on the coldest of days- ugly it may be, but its the warmest jacket I own.

I was on my way to the "L" and the change in my pocket was just enough to get me a one-way ticket downtown Chicago. It was another dreary bitter grey day and there was nothing in particular for me to be looking forward to, just another day at work.

My pace was quick despite my mood, it was a desperate attempt to eliminate as much time as possible in the cold. When I reached the train station, I peeled off my gloves and went searching for the 15 dimes I had stowed in my pocket. I pulled out 3 and realized that my pocket was now empty. While frantically searching my pocket, a finger sliped and discovered a tiny hole that would lead to the rest of my change and a small treasure of memories.

Noticing the train's approach, I grumbled and went rampaging through my bag for dollar bills. During my dollar search I was priviledged to overhear a conversation between two friends. It was a conversation that happens often in Chicago and everytime I hear it, I have the same angry reaction. This type of conversation contains lines like the following: "It really isn't that cold" and "It's been a mild winter, we're pretty lucky." These statements can be heard with a ceratin cocky boldness as if toughness is required at all times. God forbid if 17 degrees is enough to chill you- never let them see you shiver. I'm sick of the "I am manly! the freezing temperatures don't stand a chance against my strong exterior." bravado. None of us would stand a chance if left in the cold for an hour big and bold or tiny and meek. 'It' is bigger than us.

Anyway, Im on the train and I've just made the hole larger so that I can get a few fingers down into the rim of my jacket. I shake all the change down to one corner and start pulling out dimes like a child at a gumball machine. I recover my lost stash quickly but find that I have become curious about something else in the jacket. It seems as though there is something else stuck between the zipper and a snap and Im digging for it.

My excitement is mounting because I have a hold of it and seconds later I'll know what it is.

I pull out a chain looped about a safety pin and instantly start laughing at the sight of it. I am able to date the age of my jacket by this find and from this, I can almost tell how many times I've worn this beloved yet terribly unsightly jacket.

Delighted, I realize there's more tresure that has sunk beneath the surface and I embark once again on another deep finger dive. Two fingers pinching like a crab claw at the embedded items. Next to emerge was a silver earring complete with its backing. Then a rather boring if not ordinary barrette. The final discovery prooved to be the best, a silver cross of skulls on a chain.

Instantly I was transported back in time, it was 1989 and I was inside Caberet Metro; with a new friend I had met outside who kept a rat in his pocket. Lords of the New Church were onstage and I was kickin about in my combat boots, tight jeans, white t-shirt and various silver metal bits attached to my outter garments. There was Medusa's on the weekends and shows like Sham 69, Skinny Puppy, GBH and The Exploited for the days in between. It was the time when MTV aired the Young Ones before 120 minutes and they actually played music videos. Afternoons were spent in creative bliss at my best friend's house where her parents allowed us to do whatever we wanted on the walls of her room. Blissful times punctuated by unforgettable punk shows.

Punk shows were the markers on the dateline, you knew what happened or where you were at any given time based on its proximity to a show. Gone were the days of the week and the name of the months and in their place rested memorable shows of the past and the anticipated shows of the future. Relationships would last, for example, from the Revolting Cocks show through to seeing Jesus and Mary Chain. It was the way we expressed the passing of time.

"Doors closing, Armitage is next, doors open on the right" Suddenly I was no longer 18 years old and sitting in a room full of skin heads watching the Cro Mags at Durty Nellies. Instead it's 14 years later and I'm sitting uncomfortably in a cold plastic seat aboard the "L" train. Out my window things are brown and grey, streets curbs collect blowing trash and cars are battling for the right of way. I close my eyes and grasp my gems a little more tightly and giggle with my memories.