The Mystery of the Missing Hat.

You might not know this about me (although if you know how much I loathe change, you might have deduced it), but I am a creature of habit. I like routines. I like my comfort zone. I like knowing how things are gonna go, and that I’ll have what I need when things do in fact go that way.

So it stands to reason that when I get ready for my runs, I prepare in the same order every time and grab the very same items to take with me. I drink some water, change into my running gear, put on my headphones, put my lucky hat on over my headphones, apply chapstick, put on my socks and sneakers, carefully fold my tissue, grab a bottle of water, plug my headphones into my phone, open Runkeeper, and head out the door. (If Fenway’s running with me, insert “Put Fenway’s harness on” at the beginning of that process and “Put Fenway on her leash” right before walking out the door. Easy peasy.)

It’s a good system. A great system. It works for me – as long as there aren’t any distractions. When there are distractions, I’m bound to forget things. I’ll forget my hat and end up cursing at my flyaway hair and fussing with keeping my headphones in my ears. Or I’ll forget my water and feel like my run is as tortuous as crossing a very large and very dry desert. What can I say – it’s tough being me.

My running habits are very important to me. Which is why when my favorite running hat – my lucky hat – went missing two weeks ago, I was a complete wreck. I had just declared for the Half and I was sure losing my hat was a bad omen. How in the world was I going to prepare for (never mind actually run) the Half if I didn’t have my hat?! And how in the world could I lose it?

That was a pretty good question. My habits when I get in from a run aren’t as rigorous as the ones before I leave, but they’re pretty rote. I walk in the door, say a prayer that I made it back to the air conditioning, hang up the extra house key, pee, hang up my hat, put away my headphones and then sit down and chug some water while petting Fenway (if she wasn’t with me). When I’ve caught my breath (I like to sprint the last stretch before home), I get in the shower. Ta da! Routine is awesome. If I vary at all, I might sit on the couch under the fan instead of at the table, or I might yank off my hat and headphones and set them on the island while I catch my breath. Either way, things don’t go very far. So where exactly could my hat have wandered off to?

I checked the kitchen, the table, my bedroom, and my closet. I made sure it hadn’t fallen into the dirty clothes. I checked my route through the house in case it had jumped off my head. It wasn’t outside. I asked Gracie to look with me, sure that my eyes were just sliding over it. I sorted through my stack of ballcaps (four of  them hang, stacked, on the corner of my dresser mirror), but my lucky hat couldn’t be found. I was bumfuzzled.

And heartbroken.

My lucky hat. My BoSox hat. My hat that I’ve worn to every race I’ve run. My goddamn lucky hat.

I started wearing my red Patriots hat out on runs, but it wasn’t the same. One, the bright red just looked wrong. Okay, yes, I look fabulous in anything, but really I just wanted to set the deep navy of my Sox cap. Two, the Patriots hat works on a slidey band thing at the back to tighten it and I couldn’t find the right tension to keep the hat snug while running through windy corner. It was either a bit too loose and it felt like it was the teensiest bit wobbly or else it was so tight that my headphones squeaked when I moved. My BoSox hat has the plastic snap bad in the back. It was always the perfect fit.

I ran with my substandard hat (poor, little Katie) for nearly two weeks, sighing every time I looked at it. My heart fairly weeping every time I put it on. I didn’t like this new routine. At all. The universe must have sensed this because it hit me, out of the blue: the girls had word their BoSox caps to Field Day not that long before mine went missing. I had told one of them a couple times to put away their hat. Because it was sitting on the island. The island where I sometimes put my hat after my run.

I swear the skies opened up and the angels did sing. IN REAL LIFE. If, while rushing around, I had confused my hat for the girls’ hats, that would explain how my hat when missing! The only problem is that the girls’ room was in a state best described as Federal Disaster Area. It had gotten bad enough that even I had been thinking about making them clean it soon. But I was trying to hold out for the end of school. You know how those last few weeks of the school year goes: just make it through. I couldn’t wait any longer. My hat was buried somewhere in there. So I made the girls clean. I offered up a reward for The Finder Of The Hat. And what do you know? An hour into it, MY HAT CAME BACK TO ME! I would have kissed it, but ew, have you seen that thing?! It’s magical, but magic is pretty grimy.

And so concluded the mystery of the missing hat. May it never happen again, the end.



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