I used to drag it around everywhere I went… Usually took up space in the middle of my room. I couldn’t close it anymore, it was spilling out. I don’t think they make bigger trash bags either.
Mine was green, the strong triple-ply kind that doesn’t get holes in it easily.
And it was my prized possession.
Obviously it wasn’t so much the bag, but what the bag carried.
When I was 5 I started what would become my trademark to this day.
I collected hats. And my bag of hats would become my playtime.
I had a police hat, I fireman’s hat, a construction hat, a painters hat, a pirate hat, a train conductor hat, a football helmet, a baseball hat…. Quite a few of those of course…. An Indian’s headpiece, and I even think I had a Viking hat. You name it, I probably once put it on my head.
And with each hat I put on, I became that person.
It was 1977 or 1978 when my grandfather was starting to get very sick. My mom and my aunt scooped me up and took me on the drive to go visit him before he died. I remember small clips of that trip. I was 4 or 5 so I can’t piece it all together. But what I remember was a ride through a bad thunderstorm, and the fact that I was the last person to make my papa laugh.
When they put me in the car, the big green garbage bag came too. They thought it would be nice to distract him with my antics.
So me and my bag of hats, we put on a show. And we became different characters for a good part of the afternoon to give a dying man a little joy.
I kept two of those hats into adulthood. I actually still have them today. They sit on a shelf in my closet. One is from a friend of the family that I used for show and tell, and the other…. Well, that’s a police hat with my papa’s badge on it that I cherish to this day. He was the Chief of Police from a small town in northeastern PA. That hat will stay with me forever.
Even today, I have no shortage of hats. I have a big grey bin full of them in my closet.
I was trying for a while to figure out why I would always wear one when I spoke at events… and then it hit me. It’s part of who I am.
My hats have defined me since I was 4. I felt the endless possibilities of all I could be and all I wanted to explore… Of who I was and whom I could so easily become.
I still feel that when I put on a hat. I feel my authentic self seeping out through me. And… I am quite sure that’s what my message is all about.
Delving into the depths of who we are, connecting to our souls and not ever being afraid to be that person.
Who I am?
Well…. They call me “Hat Girl.”