I've been feeling homesick recently, but now I have that song stuck in my head and I am feeling an uncontrollable urge to talk about hats. I've owned some really good hats in the past and have an unfortunate habit of losing them. There were two in particular that I loved and lost during the party years when I lived in Toronto in my early twenties. I'd ended up there by mistake after a two week holiday from the UK went in a funny direction and I threw my ticket home into the bin at Toronto airport at six-in-the-morning and ended up staying there for four years.
Both of these hats were presents from my mum, and both were lost on spectacularly drunken nights out. I was so gutted by the time that I lost hat number-two that I actually made 'Missing' posters and stuck them up around the warehouse district where I vaguely remember attending some after-hours party. My poor friend S who'd been out with me the night before was pulled from his bed at an early hour and forced to help me retrace our steps that had apparently included several bars, a fast food joint, an art opening a wee in an alley and the after hours club.
Spurned by my throbbing head and churning stomach we traipsed through Toronto's back streets, me frantic to catch site of a glimpse of red and green (yes, the favourite hat was red and green) or even for some sodden little pile of fabric that would pop back into shape in the washing machine. But there was nothing.
I know exactly what happened to it, the problem was where. I was wearing one of my signature outfits of the time: black boots, black opaque tights, an extremely short green suede skirt (that probably made me look like an extra from a Robin Hood pantomime), a black scoop-necked top, false eyelashes, a chunky black belt and a vintage leather purse that attached to my belt ensuring that I didn't get separated from my money, keys and God forbid, my lip balm. Last, but definitely not least, I was wearing a clip. My good friend D says that I have survival skills and the clip was an early example of this, probably implemented after the loss of the first hat. The clip was to attach my hat to my belt when I inevitably took it off in some hot bar somewhere. But somewhere in my well-laid plans something went wrong and I was left in my Robin Hood pantomime costume sans hat.
After the search was exhausted and poor S had been allowed to go back to his bed and I went back home, I cried. Which is kind of funny seeing as I don't think I ever really cried when my parents divorced or when my grandparents died or when I lost touch with my best friend. I am a squirrel you see- I like stashing things away especially when they involve anything unsafe, like crying. I like to pack it all down uncomfortably inside me and then I occasionally allow a little bit to seep out over something unimportant like an ambulance rushing past late at night, or a daft TV advert or perhaps, a lost hat. I've gone off-topic here....I was talking about the clip. Deep down I knew the fate of the hat- I knew it's clock was ticking and I installed the clip to try to avert or maybe just delay that fate. But the clip, the hat or perhaps even the belt failed me while I danced the night away somewhere and come to think of it, I have had a slight aversion to belts ever since. Sort of like my fear of fruit- I avoid them unless absolutely necessary.
This was meant to be a piece about homesickness but it appears that I know far more about hats and belts and clips and drunken nights out than I do about where exactly my home is. The one thing that I can see clearly is this: If wherever you lay your hat is your home and you are a serial loser of hats- you've got a problem.