I’m Pretty Sure That’s My Hat
I think that might be my hat in the picture. It appears the photo was taken in a thrift store, given the randomness of the adjacent objects, and therefore the hat could have come from anywhere. So, you can’t rule it out– that being my hat, I mean.
Moms purchased the oxblood velvet sombrero for me from a Tijuana street urchin, during one of our biannual trips across the border. I was twelve and didn’t particularly want a sombrero, but the obligatory donkey picture simply didn’t work without one. She also bought me a pretty silver-like abalone cuff bracelet. I still have the bracelet. I keep it in my jewelry box next to all the turquoise I inherited when she died. I never knew what became of the hat, though.
It was actually a really fun trip. Sincerely. For once, it was just the two of us. I always got the feeling Moms didn’t like me very much, in part because she never seemed to want to spend any time alone with me. Looking back, I doubt she set out to make the trip a twosome. It would be far more likely that it happened by accident, but the exact circumstances of it coming to pass that it should be just her and I in the Land of the Velvet Elvis are lost on me now.
Moms loved places like Tijuana and Seoul, dirty foreign cities full of street merchants, thieves, and hagglers. Good Lord, the woman loved to dicker. She spoke neither Spanish nor Korean, but she would still manage to cut deals in both locales to a quarter of the asking price, before walking away ‘cause the deal wasn’t good enough. She didn’t want anything she did buy nearly as much as she wanted the chance to negotiate for it.
Negotiating and fighting were Moms’ strong suits. She probably would have made one hell of a lawyer had she not given up on school as a pregnant 16 year-old.
After a couple of margaritas, she was in true form that summer afternoon. Wheeling and dealing, her grin so wide and white you could count every pearly tooth in her mouth. She glowed. She was warm.
Some people always run red hot. You never know if it’s going to be a good day or a bad one, but you know it’s going to be intense. Sometimes, I’d come home and I would tell her about some petty, immensely significant accomplishment I’d managed, which would then turn into a heated argument about why I should have accomplished said accomplishment that I did in fact accomplish. Other times, those hands that clenched tight at the sight of anyone who even looked as though they might do me harm could hurt so bad…
She kept her arm around me as we walked down Avenida Revolucion. Not tightly or anything, just soft and embracing, like we were old friends. She told me the story about the time she almost had to beat the shit out of some skank-ass TJ stripper who kept drinking out of Pops’ beer bottle years before. We risked death at the taco stand, because goat just tastes so good. Just before we left, the guy with the polaroid and the donkey said we looked like sisters. It was kind of perfect, that day.
So, anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s my hat.