Take a moment and think about your most sacred belonging. Maybe it is that is your grandmother’s old jewelry, the steering wheel from the first car you totaled, or possibly the secret stuffed bunny you kiss good night before bed. Good, got it? Great, study time is over. Now, pop quiz: Someone throws that precious item and one of your friends off a cliff at the same time and you can only save on of them, which do you choose to save? If you asked “Which friend is it?” than the answer doesn’t matter. I proved my point. For one second, you believed that an inanimate unfeeling object was more important than a human life. Now you might have been just joking, but people can be so connected to a object to merit a tough choice. Keeping this in mind might make my tale of a simple hat that much easier to understand.
About a month into knowing me you will start to pick up my consistencies and it will become very apparent that I wear my hat a lot. Something I can only say in the past tense of present, because I lost it about a month ago. My hat was described by others as a fisherman’s hat or I was described as Indiana Jones for wearing it. Though I saw hardly saw the resemblance to Indy’s hat, because it was floppy and a greeny brown color, but I let myself be the subject of the public’s imagination.The hat quickly became synonymous with me and vice versa. Then soon after that it just became a part of my legacy (whatever that may be) and gathered quite the intrigue, which is funny to me, because the origins of the hat are embarrassingly simple.
I had picked the hat to wear one day during my sophomore year of high school and it was originally owned by my brother, Sean, before I absconded with it (This is typical the history I have with my brothers: You steal my clothes, I steal yours. There was never so much vengeance under one household). I probably started to wear the hat because of my other older brother having worn hats through his high school career; this affirming that there is no amazing origin to my fascinating fallen fabric and even some less than proud banality on my part. Now flash to my current loss and know that, because of some matter, I was uncomfortably confused about the whole ordeal.
You may be unsure as to which side of the “Are objects worth shedding tears for?” argument I am on at this point, but so am I. I am a man who has staked his emotions in the good of the people around him and functions for the people I can make happy when I can, but to invest emotion in a hat, still has my rational mind giddy, giggly, and hardly serious when thinking of it. Though soon after my loss I had many thought that were unexpected: Did people see me or the hat? How would this change my appearance to others? Would people care if I lost it? Worries like those came and went soon as I noticed the real world didn’t give much of a care for my hat and saw me the same as always. This was empowering and I took my emancipation from my hat as a joy, but if that was my reaction, then why recently did I return to Berkeley to look, weeks later, for a token of my past I was glad to lose?
I had planned an entire day in Berkeley that was to be a day of thrift shopping for a costume I needed to work on for a class. As much as I tell myself that was the reason, I can’t fully believe it. I knew that a ragged hat found on the street could possibly end up in a thrift store. So really, this trip would be killing two birds with one stone; though I didn’t suspect it until I was at the 3rd thrift shop on my list and realized that I always looked at the hat racks first. Each one left disappointed, but still hopeful. By the 5th store I realized that I had bought no clothing in the stores for my project and finally saw just how focused my thoughts were.
Was my mind distracted? Most definitely. I was consumed with thoughts of my hat’s fate. Was a hobo wearing it? Was it in the trash? Is it lying lifeless in someones’ room? Optimism eventually took hold of me when I started conjuring story book scenarios in my head of finding the hat at the bottom of a hat box or in some gutter. Then I would smile and pick it up as I said “Oh, you!” but the world is never so perfect as that and off times it is cruel as that day was to me. Hats seemed to be the constant subject of the day; taunting me at every turn. It was a sunny day and the masses of people were never going to get their noses get toasted, so hats were everywhere; keeping me diligent that I might find my lost headgear somewhere on someone’s head. I even had lunch with an older married couple at Blondies pizzeria who had just come to Berkeley from Los Gatos; all to get to get hats for a era costume party they were going to.
It was at the 7th and final thrift store that I made break through and had no more hope to exhaust. My vision was fogged by a futile search for something gone and now those clouds left my sight. Up until this point I had bought nothing except lunch, but at this store at the end, I decided to make a change and buy some shoes. The bitter irony of walking two miles in Berkeley to get a pair of shoes made me laugh a little and with that I left; back tracking through all the stores I had been to with new eyes. In every shop I saw something new for the needs of my costume that wasn’t there before. So, with a clear head, I traversed the path already taken with a new question.What was so special about that old hat?
It was me. It was who I was. All of my past ideals and memories were in every stitch of its cloth glory, but it was time to change. I will confess that in the months that led up to my hat’s disappearance the frequency of forgetting it places rose significantly. Was I forgetting everything or just my hat? I recall keeping up with school assignments so I wasn’t so forgetful. Maybe it was just the winds of change who took my hat from me. My lack of memory for the poor piece of cloth might have been a sign of the life I knew was to come and how I could go on without it; I was ready. My loss of a constant gave way to change that was shortly greeted with none of the fears I had built for myself; showing that the greatest change I had undertaken amounted to none at all. Finding my hat now would be pointless, because I regret nothing and would save a friend falling off a cliff in a stitch second.