I always thought of this light blue hat as one of a set of three. First I bought the navy and white hat, then the white on white hat, then this one. All of them date from the late 80s. This light blue hat was the last one I bought and the first one I stopped wearing.
Why? For one thing, it’s a little small. It fits, but it’s tight.
Also, at some point I looked at it and thought, “That looks like an old lady hat.” Something about that row of blue sequins made me think of white-haired women in powder blue suits. I was in my early twenties and I didn’t want that look.
But maybe I stopped wearing it because of the time I wore it to a wedding. Two friends of mine had a beautiful October wedding, on a golden fall day warm enough for a short-sleeved dress, but not hot. After the wedding, I was standing in the church parking lot with my boyfriend of a year or two, talking to the groom. Because the bride was pregnant, they’d moved up the timetable. “I’m not marrying her because she’s pregnant,” the groom said. “I’m marrying her because I love her.” He looked so serious and so happy.
Then he grinned and lifted his eyebrows. “So how about…?” and he pointed at my boyfriend and me.
I was afraid to look at my boyfriend. I was thinking “I’m too young to get married.” It was a gut reaction, the kind that shows you exactly where you stand, even if you haven’t articulated it to yourself. In that moment, I knew I wasn’t ready to settle down with him. My boyfriend, though, was a few years older, and I worried that if I looked at him, I’d see that HE was considering marriage.
I don’t remember what either of us said. For all I know, my boyfriend was facing the knowledge that he didn’t want to marry either. Maybe he was afraid to look at me because he worried I’d be looking starry-eyed and hopeful.
Eventually, that boyfriend and I did break up.
And sometime after that October day I put this hat away.
Now, so many years later, I am getting to be an old lady. I'd happily wear a powder blue suit. When I took this hat out of the hatbox, I felt a little melancholy. The hat made me remember that day when I was so young. Then, while we were taking pictures, my husband cracked a joke and snapped the picture as I laughed. And so I end this post with joy.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and nonfiction and collects hats. In this blog she vows to wear (not just model, but wear out of the house) every one of her hats, blogging about their histories and their meanings for her.