Square Dances and Full Circles

 

My father wore that cowboy hat at every show he played over the course of my entire childhood. He was the lead guitarist of a (fairly popular, local Philadelphia) band (called Legend, if you care, which you don't) but instead of standing at the front of the stage, like lead guitarists are wont to do, he always stood waaaay in the back corner of the stage, behind everyone else...only ever visible by the silhouette of that hat against the orangish spotlights of smoky, sweaty nightclubs.  

I don't really know why he gave it to me, except that Josh inherited all of his dad's cowboys hats after he passed, and he gave me all of his hats right after he found that out, so I can only guess that my dad wasn't about to be out-cowboy-grandfathered by some dude he'd never even met, or something. Competing with the dead is a weird concept to me. So is my dad. Bygones.

There are pictures of my brother and me both wearing that hat at around my daughter's age, but she's never seen them. She's also never seen a picture of my father wearing it. I don't know that she's ever actually seen a picture of my father at all, now that I think about it.

No matter; there she is, wearing it just like he did a million years ago in another life when he was my father, not a hat I sometimes cup to my ear when no one is looking, so I can hear - across the ocean of time - the strum of guitars through humid, smoggy air, over the hum of a window air-conditioner, beneath everything that hurt, to the precious few moments of time when I got to be nothing else but a little girl who worshipped her dad. 

I think when I cup it to my ear, now, I'm going to hear nothing but the giggles of her childhood, when I got to be nothing else but a mother, starry-eyed in love with her child.