Norma Sorenson and a friend with a hat.

It’s a little like trying on hats. None of them quite fit. None of them are becoming. Yet, there is an imperative ... these hats must be worn. Not quite liking them but having to wear them. Change becomes an imperative also.

These hats are varied, both in style and function. One hat has to do with being a “one” instead of being part of a “twosome.” This hat brings a kind of freedom that is often not desired ... the freedom of making a decision without consultation. Therefore, the hat is reversible. One side is darker, more difficult to wear. It perches on my head when I have to decide about finances, plans for the future, how to organize my life now. The reverse side is lighter, brighter and much easier to wear. It is evident when I can invite friends in for a glass of wine on a whim. When I consider my day and only have to consult myself to decide. There is no one to consult and that brings a lonely kind of freedom to my life.

Another hat is called the “widow” hat. This one really pinches, especially around the temples. It has colors that aren’t attractive and the style is not one I would ever choose. However, it arrived with a “no return” label on it. This hat is often placed on my head without my permission and always surprises me when I’m confronted with the necessity of wearing it.

One of these hats is really distressful to wear but sometimes necessary. This is the “needy” hat. It is a poor specimen of a hat ... dreary in color and pathetically shapeless and unattractive. As a person who has prided herself on being strong and independent, this hat makes it very clear that I have been fooling myself for the period of my life that I have been a part of a pair. I never needed to wear this hat since the undeclared stipulation of being one in a partnership is that each did what came easily while the other took up the things that weren’t in my area of expertise. Voila! Each one could exist feeling strong and independent. This hat has built in components ... vulnerability, inadequacy and humility.

There is one hat still in the box that is just barely visible ... one that I haven’t really looked at yet. I think I will wear it sometime but I don’t know when. This hat is one I will call the “self-sufficient” hat. It looks quite attractive and the colors are those that I like. I don’t know how it will look on me but I want to try it on as soon as I can. I think I will like wearing it, when I can ... when it is the hat I will find appropriate to wear in the latter stages of my life.

A resident of Lake Oswego, Norma Sorenson’s writing group encouraged her to submit this article for publication.

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