The Art of Assimilation

My shadow, my hand and me, MR

The Miracles of the Church seem to me not to rest so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

– Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

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“It is hot,” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman thought.

The woman wearing the hat was wandering around the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris on an unseasonably warm spring day.

“I’m too HOT. I just want some relief. What are we going to do about it?!” the hat growled as the woman sauntered along mossy paths between the markers. “Are you listening to me?” The woman was intent on a statue of a maiden perched in sorrow above a tomb. Elaborate in its depiction of grief, it towered over simpler graves.

“What is a normal burial site?” the woman mused aloud.

“Huh?” said her hat. “Are you paying any attention to my plight? I’m dying of heat here on top of your busy head.”

“Do sturdy mementos have any spiritual purpose or is this all just another clever marketing ruse?” The woman indulged in her contemplation to politely ignore the whining hat.

In rainy weather when she went out in a great mood because she loved the softness of overcast skies, the hat would moan at being left behind. “I’m just as good at keeping you dry as I am at saving your brain from being fried by the sun… I like promenading. I don’t want to be left alone with that winter coat.” The winter coat grimaced. It didn’t much want to be with the cranky old hat either but somehow the coat always managed to put on a brave front, quietly saluting the woman as she put on her raincoat. The raincoat never said a word.

The woman didn’t usually converse with any of her clothes, but this strange summer-in-springtime day she was worn out by the hat’s rant. “It’s as if you were made for something else, the way you carry on. What do you want me to do about the sun shining? Isn’t that why you were made: to shield my head from burning rays?”

“In Florida!” yelled the hat. “The sunshine state where you acquired me… I know I was hung up in a tourist trap kind of store so the fact that you, a tourist, were the one to procure me makes a kind of sense. But I was really hoping that you would be someone who would just – you know – wear me in the air conditioning at the mall – not actually have me do what I was made for!”

The woman stopped in front of a polished marble grave. She dropped her head, letting the hat fall into her hands. “Hey Hey! everything is upside down now.” The woman was swinging the hat around by its chinstrap on one of her fingers. “Oh God. This is wild. I’m seeing scenes from my entire existence spinning by… Stop, I don’t want to die like this.” The woman caught the hat’s brim, holding it between her thumb and forefinger. “That’s more like it. Phew! What a close call. What the hell were you thinking?”

The woman laid the hat down on Samuel Beckett’s resting place, stepped back and sighed. “You are the most ungrateful, self-involved hat I have ever worn. And I have had to wear a lot of hats. Why that little floppy cotton cap I found in Ireland never complains, covers me up perfectly – and I so often choose you over him.” As it slid down the face of the tombstone, the hat masked the letters of Beckett’s name. “You’ll probably end up waiting a very short time here before some God, I mean dog – or something – comes along and carries you off.”

“Hey! Wait, what do you mean?” The woman was walking away. “You can’t leave me here like this. I’m… I’m defacing a great Irish playwright’s resting place!”

The woman turned back, narrowed her eyes. “I can and I will. I don’t need some cranky old piece of specially devised man-made fabric to balk at me day in and day out. Maybe you’ll finally make something of yourself instead of constantly proclaiming yourself.”

“P-P-Proclaiming?” the hat stuttered.

“I have never met anyone who needed to tell everyone just how hard their life was – except maybe…”

Hanging on the edge of the tomb, the hat cried out. “Except maybe who?” But the woman had already walked away. Shielding her forehead with her hands, she felt relief at letting go of the sore old head covering.

“I’ll have to move somewhere where I don’t need a hat, not even a friendly one. Time to streamline. Soon enough I’ll be dust scattered somewhere with no real preference for heat or cold. For now, I really am happier in overcast places. Yes, I’ll find my peace in a cool rainy clime.”

The woman was at the exit to the cemetery when she heard a kind of prayer.

“Don’t leave me this waaaaaay. I can’t survive, can’t stay alive without your love…don’t leave me this way… Awww baby….” The hat was singing a Thelma Houston song.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yioNn7XS-bw) It was one of the woman’s favourite tunes. The silly, annoying old hat had actually been paying attention to what the woman liked. “Don’t leave me this way…” The hat kept repeating the chorus. The woman stood listening.

Moments later the hat was back on the woman’s head. They were out on the hot Paris pavement again.

“Hey! It’s hot out here.” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman replied. She hailed a cab for the airport. On the drive the hat sang another of the woman’s favourite songs:

“Together at last, together forever. We’re tying a knot they never can sever. I don’t need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue. I don’t need anything but you…”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTx7v7xu0v0) The woman smiled at seeing her silhouette reflected in the car window. It was the same shadow that she and her hat had cast in the cemetery.

“The world is our sepulchre.” She said to the hat.

“Cool!” the topper exclaimed. They enjoyed the rest of the journey in silence.

The Miracles of the Church seem to me not to rest so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

– Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

“It is hot,” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman thought.

The woman wearing the hat was wandering around the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris on an unseasonably warm spring day.

“I’m too HOT. I just want some relief. What are we going to do about it?!” the hat growled as the woman sauntered along mossy paths between the markers. “Are you listening to me?” The woman was intent on a statue of a maiden perched in sorrow above a tomb. Elaborate in its depiction of grief, it towered over simpler graves.

“What is a normal burial site?” the woman mused aloud.

“Huh?” said her hat. “Are you paying any attention to my plight? I’m dying of heat here on top of your busy head.”

“Do sturdy mementos have any spiritual purpose or is this all just another clever marketing ruse?” The woman indulged in her contemplation to politely ignore the whining hat.

In rainy weather when she went out in a great mood because she loved the softness of overcast skies, the hat would moan at being left behind. “I’m just as good at keeping you dry as I am at saving your brain from being fried by the sun… I like promenading. I don’t want to be left alone with that winter coat.” The winter coat grimaced. It didn’t much want to be with the cranky old hat either but somehow the coat always managed to put on a brave front, quietly saluting the woman as she put on her raincoat. The raincoat never said a word.

The woman didn’t usually converse with any of her clothes, but this strange summer-in-springtime day she was worn out by the hat’s rant. “It’s as if you were made for something else, the way you carry on. What do you want me to do about the sun shining? Isn’t that why you were made: to shield my head from burning rays?”

“In Florida!” yelled the hat. “The sunshine state where you acquired me… I know I was hung up in a tourist trap kind of store so the fact that you, a tourist, were the one to procure me makes a kind of sense. But I was really hoping that you would be someone who would just – you know – wear me in the air conditioning at the mall – not actually have me do what I was made for!”

The woman stopped in front of a polished marble grave. She dropped her head, letting the hat fall into her hands. “Hey Hey! everything is upside down now.” The woman was swinging the hat around by its chinstrap on one of her fingers. “Oh God. This is wild. I’m seeing scenes from my entire existence spinning by… Stop, I don’t want to die like this.” The woman caught the hat’s brim, holding it between her thumb and forefinger. “That’s more like it. Phew! What a close call. What the hell were you thinking?”

The woman laid the hat down on Samuel Beckett’s resting place, stepped back and sighed. “You are the most ungrateful, self-involved hat I have ever worn. And I have had to wear a lot of hats. Why that little floppy cotton cap I found in Ireland never complains, covers me up perfectly – and I so often choose you over him.” As it slid down the face of the tombstone, the hat masked the letters of Beckett’s name. “You’ll probably end up waiting a very short time here before some God, I mean dog – or something – comes along and carries you off.”

“Hey! Wait, what do you mean?” The woman was walking away. “You can’t leave me here like this. I’m… I’m defacing a great Irish playwright’s resting place!”

The woman turned back, narrowed her eyes. “I can and I will. I don’t need some cranky old piece of specially devised man-made fabric to balk at me day in and day out. Maybe you’ll finally make something of yourself instead of constantly proclaiming yourself.”

“P-P-Proclaiming?” the hat stuttered.

“I have never met anyone who needed to tell everyone just how hard their life was – except maybe…”

Hanging on the edge of the tomb, the hat cried out. “Except maybe who?” But the woman had already walked away. Shielding her forehead with her hands, she felt relief at letting go of the sore old head covering.

“I’ll have to move somewhere where I don’t need a hat, not even a friendly one. Time to streamline. Soon enough I’ll be dust scattered somewhere with no real preference for heat or cold. For now, I really am happier in overcast places. Yes, I’ll find my peace in a cool rainy clime.”

The woman was at the exit to the cemetery when she heard a kind of prayer.

“Don’t leave me this waaaaaay. I can’t survive, can’t stay alive without your love…don’t leave me this way… Awww baby….” The hat was singing a Thelma Houston song.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yioNn7XS-bw) It was one of the woman’s favourite tunes. The silly, annoying old hat had actually been paying attention to what the woman liked. “Don’t leave me this way…” The hat kept repeating the chorus. The woman stood listening.

Moments later the hat was back on the woman’s head. They were out on the hot Paris pavement again.

“Hey! It’s hot out here.” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman replied. She hailed a cab for the airport. On the drive the hat sang another of the woman’s favourite songs:

“Together at last, together forever. We’re tying a knot they never can sever. I don’t need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue. I don’t need anything but you…”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTx7v7xu0v0) The woman smiled at seeing her silhouette reflected in the car window. It was the same shadow that she and her hat had cast in the cemetery.

“The world is our sepulchre.” She said to the hat.

“Cool!” the topper exclaimed. They enjoyed the rest of the journey in silence.

The Miracles of the Church seem to me not to rest so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

– Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

“It is hot,” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman thought.

The woman wearing the hat was wandering around the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris on an unseasonably warm spring day.

“I’m too HOT. I just want some relief. What are we going to do about it?!” the hat growled as the woman sauntered along mossy paths between the markers. “Are you listening to me?” The woman was intent on a statue of a maiden perched in sorrow above a tomb. Elaborate in its depiction of grief, it towered over simpler graves.

“What is a normal burial site?” the woman mused aloud.

“Huh?” said her hat. “Are you paying any attention to my plight? I’m dying of heat here on top of your busy head.”

“Do sturdy mementos have any spiritual purpose or is this all just another clever marketing ruse?” The woman indulged in her contemplation to politely ignore the whining hat.

In rainy weather when she went out in a great mood because she loved the softness of overcast skies, the hat would moan at being left behind. “I’m just as good at keeping you dry as I am at saving your brain from being fried by the sun… I like promenading. I don’t want to be left alone with that winter coat.” The winter coat grimaced. It didn’t much want to be with the cranky old hat either but somehow the coat always managed to put on a brave front, quietly saluting the woman as she put on her raincoat. The raincoat never said a word.

The woman didn’t usually converse with any of her clothes, but this strange summer-in-springtime day she was worn out by the hat’s rant. “It’s as if you were made for something else, the way you carry on. What do you want me to do about the sun shining? Isn’t that why you were made: to shield my head from burning rays?”

“In Florida!” yelled the hat. “The sunshine state where you acquired me… I know I was hung up in a tourist trap kind of store so the fact that you, a tourist, were the one to procure me makes a kind of sense. But I was really hoping that you would be someone who would just – you know – wear me in the air conditioning at the mall – not actually have me do what I was made for!”

The woman stopped in front of a polished marble grave. She dropped her head, letting the hat fall into her hands. “Hey Hey! everything is upside down now.” The woman was swinging the hat around by its chinstrap on one of her fingers. “Oh God. This is wild. I’m seeing scenes from my entire existence spinning by… Stop, I don’t want to die like this.” The woman caught the hat’s brim, holding it between her thumb and forefinger. “That’s more like it. Phew! What a close call. What the hell were you thinking?”

The woman laid the hat down on Samuel Beckett’s resting place, stepped back and sighed. “You are the most ungrateful, self-involved hat I have ever worn. And I have had to wear a lot of hats. Why that little floppy cotton cap I found in Ireland never complains, covers me up perfectly – and I so often choose you over him.” As it slid down the face of the tombstone, the hat masked the letters of Beckett’s name. “You’ll probably end up waiting a very short time here before some God, I mean dog – or something – comes along and carries you off.”

“Hey! Wait, what do you mean?” The woman was walking away. “You can’t leave me here like this. I’m… I’m defacing a great Irish playwright’s resting place!”

The woman turned back, narrowed her eyes. “I can and I will. I don’t need some cranky old piece of specially devised man-made fabric to balk at me day in and day out. Maybe you’ll finally make something of yourself instead of constantly proclaiming yourself.”

“P-P-Proclaiming?” the hat stuttered.

“I have never met anyone who needed to tell everyone just how hard their life was – except maybe…”

Hanging on the edge of the tomb, the hat cried out. “Except maybe who?” But the woman had already walked away. Shielding her forehead with her hands, she felt relief at letting go of the sore old head covering.

“I’ll have to move somewhere where I don’t need a hat, not even a friendly one. Time to streamline. Soon enough I’ll be dust scattered somewhere with no real preference for heat or cold. For now, I really am happier in overcast places. Yes, I’ll find my peace in a cool rainy clime.”

The woman was at the exit to the cemetery when she heard a kind of prayer.

“Don’t leave me this waaaaaay. I can’t survive, can’t stay alive without your love…don’t leave me this way… Awww baby….” The hat was singing a Thelma Houston song.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yioNn7XS-bw) It was one of the woman’s favourite tunes. The silly, annoying old hat had actually been paying attention to what the woman liked. “Don’t leave me this way…” The hat kept repeating the chorus. The woman stood listening.

Moments later the hat was back on the woman’s head. They were out on the hot Paris pavement again.

“Hey! It’s hot out here.” said the hat.

“I know,” the woman replied. She hailed a cab for the airport. On the drive the hat sang another of the woman’s favourite songs:

“Together at last, together forever. We’re tying a knot they never can sever. I don’t need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue. I don’t need anything but you…”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTx7v7xu0v0) The woman smiled at seeing her silhouette reflected in the car window. It was the same shadow that she and her hat had cast in the cemetery.

“The world is our sepulchre.” She said to the hat.

“Cool!” the topper exclaimed. They enjoyed the rest of the journey in silence.

Magdalena Randal is a Nova Scotia artist and filmmaker currently studying in Paris.

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