I lost my favourite hat last night. I have other hats, but right now all that is beside the point. Now’s for mourning the most particular of hats.
Our treasured things do have lives, real biographies within our own. They reflect our heights and our limits, become part of us by surviving our curiosities and contradictions.
My hat was soft felt and deep grey. It came from grey — from grand, stony Edinburgh, Scotland. It had been an impulsive, extravagant purchase, more than twenty-five years ago. I’ve worn that hat, drawn great comfort from it, for the quarter century since, half my life. With its frayed band, all marked up and misshapen, any of its serious magnificence became also a little silly. It fit so well.
Donning that hat was like putting on myself. More than merely covering my head, it concealed what I needed and invited my possibilities, granting me freedoms, containing and guarding over whatever was going on inside me.
A costume of escape from crabbed cares, from duties and proprieties? No, that hat was more of a gentle, felty cue, to myself and others — a signal I could wear. Relax, breathe, spread, stroll, open out, find special ones and special places. Amuse and be amused. Take things in, notice, listen to the world, its music, its conversations.
It’s melodramatic, maybe too much to attach to a thing. But that was one venerable hat.