Every year people do Spring Cleaning. I do a Spring Reckoning. It’s a reckoning because I will go through bookshelves, closets, tubs and totes and will throw away my possessions without mercy if I deem it to be worthless, or, in some cases, taking up too much space. Most items are thrown into the trash, but some are sold, and some are retained.

I say “Spring Reckoning” although it doesn’t always fall during Spring. It’s mostly just whenever I get a notion to go through all my shit. A month or so ago I knew it was coming and told my wife it would be here sometime soon. Sure enough it did and I’ve been taking time the last few weeks to work on it.

Last night I was in the basement going through some totes, making good progress, when I came across a smaller tote filled with stocking caps, winter gloves, and an old blue beanie I hadn’t seen or worn in over 10 years.

I have always loved beanie hats. I wear ball caps on occasion, but beanies are worn most of the year. I am not exactly sure why, but they just feel right on my head. The problem is I could never find ones that fit perfectly onto my oddly shaped noggin. I spent years trying to find a decent beanie. The blue one in my hand was an attempt at one I hoped would work. It never did, but I gave it a good try.

One day, over 10 years ago, I found a black beanie with a skull on it. The skull was woven in with a slightly lighter color so it stood out if you were up close, but not so much from a distance. And it fit my head perfectly. I bought it immediately.

I wore that beanie for over 10 years. It was like an extension of me. I loved it. I took care of it. My beanie rode thousands of miles with me on five different motorcycles. It attended several concerts with me. I had played many board games, video games, and tabletop RPGs with my beanie on my head. My beanie and I attended family functions and hung out countless times with my friends. The first time I got a live Xmas tree, that beanie was on my head. I was wearing it on a cold December day in 2012 when I went into the courthouse to finish up my divorce decree.

A number of years ago I knew it wouldn’t be with me forever and tried to find another one online, even tried tracking down the clothing company, but they didn’t seem to exist anymore. I cursed myself for not buying a second beanie when I had the chance.

A few years back it got its first hole. It didn’t catch on anything, it simply wore out in that spot. I got my friend Annie to fix it. Eventually a few more holes appeared and Annie fixed those as well. Not long after I noticed it had several holes on the inside that weren’t there the month before. It looked as if the material was simply disintegrating.

I had to face the fact that my beloved black beanie was at the end of its life. I couldn’t stand throwing it away so I put it in a drawer and that was that. I found a black beanie made by Harley Davidson that worked OK, but it wasn’t the same. It didn’t fit the same. It wasn’t the same material. I missed my black beanie. I mourned that beanie, as crazy as that sounds.

Which brings me back to last night and the old blue beanie. I didn’t want or need it anymore so I picked it up to throw it away. Something was balled up inside. I just assumed an old glove had gotten in there and settled in.

I reached in and pulled out a brand new black beanie. My black beanie: same hat, same material, same skull, same everything. It turns out I had bought a second one, balled it up, stuck it inside the blue beanie and forgot everything about it.

I stared at it for a few moments, mesmerized. Then I put it on.

It fit perfectly.