Going home means not only the awkwardness of leaving your own house to stay in someone else’s, where the rules are different and the snack situation is just this baffling tragedy; it’s also the awkwardness of the fact that the old me still lives in my parents’ house. He kind of sucks. He spent years scurrying around trying to make other people happy in an effort to hide the fact that he wasn’t. Looking back on the old me, I can’t imagine where I found the energy.
The old me is tidily symbolized by a vintage ’90s Drew artifact I found in a storage bin, along with my high school graduation gown, some photo albums and the course catalogue I received before my freshman year of college.
It’s my letterman jacket.
Looking at it now, I can’t believe this is a thing I own. It’s not me. It wasn’t me then, and I knew that, but I ultimately said yes when I was told I would be receiving one as a present—in reward for athletic greatness that never really happened, I guess, and in a misguided to achieve some kind of status I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I remember being told it was an honor. It didn’t feel like one. A Neo-Geo would have been an honor, but I got this fucking jacket instead. I think I wore it once, felt like I was playing dress-up in someone else’s clothes and returned it to my locker before lunch. It didn’t work. I don’t think I thought it would work but the fact that I accepted it and tried it anyway just makes me realize how impossible it was for me to speak up for myself.
Now I don’t know what to do with it. My parents are moving out of the house I grew up in, and in a sense that’s good for me, because whatever bedroom I’ll be taking in the future won’t be haunted by the ghost of Old Drew. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out where to put this letterman jacket. In another storage bin? In my closet in Los Angeles as a stern reminder not to pretend I’m someone I’m not? In the garbage?
In one of those instances where the symbolism, should it be written this way in a novel, would be too on-the-nose, I would like to point out that sixteen years later, this fucking stupid jacket still doesn’t fit me. The sleeves are too long and too big—designed for a far more ripped human being, I guess—and I can’t even imagine how ridiculous this would have looked on my 150-pound frame back when I was a senior in high school.
It probably says a lot that I look at those sleeve cuffs enveloping my hands and have the reaction, “Hey, I’m wearing it like Party of Five-era Jennifer Love Hewitt.”