Never mind why I decided to wear a bandanna when I sit on the porch to write. It has to do with wanting to keep my hair silver as opposed to yellow. When not on my head, a bandanna is a handkerchief, or an impromptu sand dollar transportation vehicle.
I am burrowing through vats of ephemera lately, my own and that of my ancestors. When I spotted a red bandanna in a random box, I snatched it without second thought and wore it for weeks, until I happened to notice a nametag carefully sewn into the hem. Suzanne. I remembered her. How on earth did her bandanna end up in my possession, decades later? Had I absconded with it at band camp? Was it an intentional loan I never returned?
No matter. The nametag made clear the rightful owner. Thanks to Facebook, I could easily contact her. Hi. You may not remember me, but look: I have your bandanna.
Suzanne wrote back immediately, warmly. How funny you found that. A blast from the past. My mother is visiting me. I showed her the picture and she remembers sewing that tag on the bandanna. I’d love to have it back.
Something in those simple words pricked my eyes to remember all the nametags my own mother sewed in my clothes. Clothes for camp; the hideous blue gym-suits we were required to buy, change into and out of at school, and launder at home; not to mention coats, sweaters, and for those really rare Florida days, mittens.
I looked again at Suzanne’s bandanna. I could see every stitch her mother made. And to think her mother was there when I sent the silly picture and asked for the address of her grown-up house.
I still feel like the awkward fourteen-year-old who somehow ended up with someone else’s bandanna. At least the grown-up me can send it back to its rightful owner. And the grown-up me appreciates my mother, and her mother, and all the mothers who sew nametags into memories.
No telling when, or how, those memories will circle back around.