Saturday, June 9, 2007


I sit here listening to my mother pack her sunscreen and straw beach hats, filling her bag with indivivdual travel-size toiletry bottles, check the expiration dates on the sunscreen. And I think,

Porque estoy aqui? Porque no estoy viajando con mis parientes manana a la playa, el sol, en la road trip?

Because I cannot graduate unless I take Spanish 231 this summer. I may have mentioned this.

The saddest part about it isn't the fact that I don't get a beach vacation, although believe me, it's always the highlight of my year. It's not that I am deprived of spending quality time with my family working Sudoku puzzles on the table in the condo and hunting for crabs after dark with sand pails and flashlights. No, it's really about The Hat. I don't have a picture of The Hat (not one without me attached looking completely ridiculous) but I'm very sure that this is the first hat ever that could become President of The Free World. Long before it was mine, I had a picture of a hat in my head: fine yellow straw with a sweeping brim fanned out over my shoulders, simple and understated round top. I found one I liked at J. Crew, but as it happened I didn't have a small fortune on me and couldn't wash dishes to earn store credit (I asked). Then, months later, I found myself in House of Fraser, a completely unaffordable department store in Dublin, and there It was. Perched on a glass shelf atop a white plaster head-form was My Hat, and it was even more beautiful than the J. Crew creation, even BIGGER, even more sweeping and graceful, and when I put it on it didn't just fan over my shoulders, it TOUCHED my shoulders. I was moved to tears. And then it seems God wanted to remind the world that He exists in a show of benevolent omnipotence; He didn't part the skies or turn the River Liffey into Guinness: when I took the hat to the checkout, I was told that it had been marked down to 7 euros, less than half of its original price.
Angels sang that day in Dublin, I assure you.

I have only owned The Hat long enough to take it to the beach once, and wearing it around a sunny backyard simply doesn't do it justice. Too big to fit in a hatbox, too shapely to be stuffed in a corner or placed on a flat surface, it sits over the lampshade beside my bed, its wide rippled brim hanging demurely until the day I can rock it once more on some sandy oceanside. I am truly saddened that this singular specimen of a hat cannot be worn to the beach this year, I am. One day, I may donate it to The Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre. However, one thing gives me peace. C.S. Lewis said that the fact that man seeks God is proof enough that He exists, as the fact that fish have gills presupposes the existence of water. Although I consider C.S. Lewis brilliant and a favorite author of mine, I don't need philosophical reassurances of God's existence. The Hat is proof enough for me.

Around 1989 and 1991, I think:

And last year:

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