A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Ode To Red


Of the baseball caps I have accumulated over the years, there is just one that fits right, no matter how sweat-stained and faded.

Maybe you have one like it: The one you reach for on a bad hair day, the one that doesn’t puff up too much on top, one that your friends identify as your look. A signature cap.

My kids tease me about mine, especially on this trip since I rarely go out bare-headed. Conor says he can’t find me in a crowd without it. They call it “Red.”

I have been looking for a back-up hat for Red in souvenir shops on vacations since our newlywed days. Just in case—well, in case I lost it.

I have tried on hundreds of baseball caps to no avail.

My head must be some crazy “off” size. Childrens’ hats don’t work, nor do Ladies’. The adjustability feature doesn’t help. The ridge comes down over my ears or too much fabric bunches up top. To be sure, I am picky. Nothing looked as good as Red.

Dani & Conor in Quito

But all those years of trying-on-and-not-finding didn’t really matter.

Because I never lost Red. Not in the sea during a windy sail in St. Johns. Not from a New Mexican mesa’s edge in a sudden gust. Not between Galapagos Islands when the wind was blowing over the bow. Not walking the ruins at Ollytantambo when a dust twister blew past.

That hat, my signature cap, seemed practically part of my head. And it wasn’t going anywhere. I pictured myself wearing it over the grey at the assisted care facility one day.

By now you may have guessed the reason for this desperate essay. Red is gone. And not because of some glorious, memorable adventure.

The cap, my little topper, is riding along in some Cusco taxi.

Maybe as blue as I am.


1 Martha { 09.12.08 at 6:54 am }

Oh No!!! I can’t imagine life without red either!!! How will the Rombro and Haberman girls do a skit portraying Dani without the hat!!! Anyway, I am glad Dani has returned to good health and is now traisping along in taxis — even if there is material risk.

2 Linda in Oregon { 09.12.08 at 11:33 am }

Food poisoning, and now this! I feel for you, Dani! – and for the little (blue) hat.

take care,

3 Lisa { 09.12.08 at 1:31 pm }

Hi Dani-
My deepest sympathies for the loss of ol’ Red. I know exactly what you mean – currently atop my head is the blue baseball cap that is/was always my “go to” cap. It traveled with me around the world for 15 months and even though I just bought a new one (and had a dozen or so at home)…it’s coming with me again on the next trip b/c no other’s fit can compare.
Good luck finding a new one as a remembrance of this amazing journey you are on.

4 chris { 09.12.08 at 3:21 pm }

I read the WP this morning nearly cover to cover and was just lamenting how it was pretty much all bad news. And now….this. It’s gonna be along weekend around here.

5 molly { 09.12.08 at 5:05 pm }

Oh my god! I’m so sorry!

6 Dani { 09.13.08 at 8:54 am }

Chris, are you saying that the story of my missing baseball cap was NOT in the Washington Post? That darned election coverage is eclipsing everything that really matters!

7 chris { 09.15.08 at 1:49 pm }

Dani- The Post is a little behind, but the story of “Red” was finally published. Headline in today’s Metro section was , “Cusco Policia Declare Case of Missing Topper Shutt.”

8 Lisa { 09.15.08 at 3:20 pm }

The silver lining to losing Red is the wonderful piece you wrote about it. Would you mind if my sister submits it to an “e-zine” called doubledarepress.com?

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