Those of you who have been around this joint for a while probably recognize this hat:
This old blue - and, yes, it was blue when I first put it on some five years ago - ballcap has been my faithful companion through all times and places. It has been sunhat and raincap, kept my pate warm in the cold and cool in the heat for a long, long time.
I picked it up on a whim, after I'd lost the old Englund Marine cap I'd had for some years, simply because it was free from my old firm and met my requirements for headgear; simple, comfortable, and neither garish nor silly. It served me well.
Perhaps too well. After years of sun and rain, salt, wind, and soil it was a sort of grimy dark gray-brown color. My friends - whose little girl we tried to entertain by letting her play with it when she lacked any other toy - simply called it "The Dirty Hat". It actually started to get a kind of nasty, greasy texture to it. The time had come; I simply had to wash it.
I tried my best. Put it in the "gentle" cycle. Kept pulling it out to check it to ensure that the wash cycle really was gentle. Used the mildest detergent in the house left over from when the kids were little and needed special laundry soap.
Nothing helped; it turned out that the dirt was all that held the Dirty Hat together.
You can see where it parted at the juncture of crown and brim. You can't see the rip in the crown just below the logo, or the place along the right side where the inner band and the outer fabric ripped apart. It's in tatters, and its only a matter of time before it just falls completely to pieces.
I have never been very stylish. My clothes-sense is minimal; provided they cover me comfortably I have no real attachment to my clothing in general. One shirt is very like another.
But I find myself mildly grieved at the loss of the Dirty Hat. Why is it that it seems so difficult to find another cap that suits me so well as my old cap? It's just a cotton cap, after all. And yet, it and I have traveled a fair piece together and I always took the old thing rather for granted. Now I need to find a new traveling companion, one that doesn't irk or shout, doesn't bind or chafe, a comfortable sort of companion, never rude or out-of-sorts, always cheerful at the prospect of rain or sunshine, and the entire prospect fills me with a low-grade sort of irritation.
Every so often I butt up against the permanence of objects, and find the whole business disturbingly surprising.