I grew up having the heat from the Sahara Desert blowing on my dark skin. The temperature, always high. I was born in this heat. I knew nothing else. Towards the end of the year, there was the Harmattan, which was mildly cold, dusty and dry.
I first arrived in England on a KLM flight on a morning in November 1996 with a well-travelled relative. Naively, I thought I was well equipped for the cold weather. I had invested in an “Okrika” second hand coat from my local market. I was very pleased and proud with this buy.
My investment displeased me after I stepped out of the plane at Heathrow Airport. I realised, I was not ready for the icy cold conditions that instantly made my eyes water, stiffened my fingers and arrested my feet. I was in agony, I cried.
I am about to tell you the story of my relationship with a coat, a fake fur coat.
Some years ago, my stylish mother-in-law gave me a soft, polyester, vintage, fur coat. She gave it to me, in love. I unreservedly accepted it with a thankful heart.
The creamy, brown, furry was a gift to her from her late husband. She said he bought it from C&A in the 70s. It was her favourite. She also remembers wearing it to some beautiful ballrooms. She still dances. She is in her 80s.
Until recently, I felt very insecure about wearing this family heirloom. My deep-rooted “people pleasing self” was worried about what other people thought about me in it. This stole away the pleasure of wearing my coat.
The first freezing day after the coat was given to me, I eagerly wore it. I stepped out of my front door with pride. As I walked down my street, I felt unsure. It was too late to turn back so I carried on.
Why was I feeling uncertain about wearing a coat I really like, I questioned myself. Looking all around me, there was no other coat walking down the street like it. It stood out. I STOOD OUT.
The “self-doubting” life in me with her opinions robbed me of my first experience with this coat. Inside my scattered brain, I made up excuses and reasons. (In case someone commented on my “dramatic” heirloom).
That was two years ago.
My relationship with my faux fur coat has since changed.
Lately, it’s been freezing in leafy Surrey. I have dug out my coat from the back of my packed wardrobe. We have made up. We have a good relationship now. It keeps me warm in these winter months. Sometimes, too warm.
My beautiful satin lined heirloom has history. And now that I confidently wear it, I am part of its history. One day, perhaps, my daughters too.