of (little) importance.

I found the hat I thought I left at your place.

The hat I thought I would never see again, the hat I replaced already because it’s colder outside now and my ears needed protection. The $10 hat I wore often while you were in my life, bought on impulse while shopping for an outfit for one of our dates. It’s starting to fray — I washed it and ignored the care instructions. You can probably picture me in wearing it, my sleepy brown eyes staring into yours across a beer, a cup of coffee, a bottle of wine.

The hat was my answer to late nights and early mornings. I wore it whenever I left your place, choosing more time laying in bed with you over showering before I went home (plus, I didn’t really like your shower).

I think those few ounces of wool became a talisman, as if it would protect me from natural and emotional bad weather. I wore it to hide a bad hair day, or my need for a haircut or anything, really, that made me more insecure about my appearance, boyish and awkward and just praying for you to tell me i was beautiful. (You didn’t).

I found the hat, small and blue and alone, just like me.

It surfaced when I finally cleaned the room I’d turned into an emotional prison, a tangible, messy symbol of the grief that overwhelmed me. (Grief of your making but also long-buried grief you had nothing to do with).

The hat was tangled up in my sheets, which I realized i hadn’t washed since the last time you were in them, either purposefully or accidentally, I couldn’t really tell you. It lay there, probably tossed off the last time we returned from a dinner and collapsed into my bed. I lived for those moments — alcohol blazing our cheeks, coursing through our veins as we fumbled with buttons and zippers and words. The summer on our skin slowly replaced with that certain Chicago chill as leaves went from alive to dying. How fitting a time for us — if “us” ever really even got a chance to exist.

Should I shove this hat into a dresser drawer? (The mug you gave me when I turned 29 is already in there, taking up space).

I want to wear this again, I thought. I want to throw the hat on while breezing out the door, coat collar turned up against the wind and mittened hand holding onto one bigger, rougher than mine. I want to trash this hat, I whispered. I want it to be carried off on a garbage truck and live the rest of it’s life amongst the disposed-of belongings of other soured relationships. I want…

I found the hat I thought I left at your place.

The knit blue hat I’d hoped I left at your place, so one night I’d have an excuse to call and ask if you’d seen it, so one night I might have a reason to see your face again.