By Rae Theodore
We’re on our honeymoon on a boat cleaving the Caribbean Sea in two. The sun is high in the air. An orange balloon. I’m hanging over the railing, and the wind is blowing in my face, carving me into someone new. I’m wearing athletic shorts, a gray Penn State tank top and a navy ball cap with a white swoosh embroidered on the front. The hat fits me perfectly. It’s not too big or small, too tight or loose. It doesn’t gap in the back like most other caps do when I try them on. The color is a solid, solemn blue. The blue of raw denim or the sky at midnight on nights when I feel like the universe might swallow me whole.
I’m watching the sun weld diamonds on the water. My husband is standing next to me with his Nikon glued to his face when a big gust blows the hat off my head and flings it like a frisbee out to sea. I lurch, try to grab the hat, but it’s too late. What I’m reaching for is no longer there. Some things can’t be undone, unlost, retrieved from the steel jaws of a strong breeze. I squint into the sun and use my hand as a makeshift visor. See nothing but miles of sapphire water, cerulean sky. I spend the rest of the ride trying to tame my hair whipping wildly in the wind.
After the divorce, I’ll buzz my hair. Buy new ball caps. So many new ball caps. Caps the color of yellow gold and cinnamon gum. I’ll date women, starting with the Renaissance Faire vendor with raven hair. When I look back at my honeymoon, I’ll remember the boat ride, eating a coconut on the beach, a day trip to the Baths at Virgin Gorda. Mostly though I’ll remember the hat. I’ll remember and mourn the navy hat and the other parts of me I lost pretending to be someone I thought I wanted to be.
Rae Theodore is the author of My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels and Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Rae is the winner of the 2020 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest and past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She serves on the board of Creative Light Factory, a nonprofit in southeastern Pennsylvania that supports writers, and is CLF’s chapter lead for Women Who Submit, an international group that empowers women and nonbinary writers to submit to literary journals.
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