I must have already spent at least half an hour holding the hat, turning it over in my hands. Weighing it experimentally. Trying it on, taking it off. I can't imagine a winter's night without it.
But winter doesn't really happen in Houston.
Or so I'm told. I've never actually been myself. It's hearsay. What if they've been exaggerating? Maybe Texans just don't feel the cold like Irish people do. Or what if this winter is some kind of freak meteorological event? I imagine mercury plummeting, windows being slammed shut, news anchors shaking their heads. Windblown reporters shout into microphones, gesticulating at scenes of Arctic desolation. I cut a lonely figure, battling my way through slanting rain to the library, leaning into the gusts of wind. I clutch my collar with reddened fingers, hair plastered to my face. Cursing the decision to leave my beloved hat behind.
And what difference will it make, anyway? It's not very big; it takes up hardly any room. I could easily wedge it into a corner of the suitcase, just to be on the safe side. My cashmere scarf is fairly tidy too, the one I got in that market in Hammersmith. I love that scarf. And I might as well try to squeeze my tall black leather boots in there too. They're a cornerstone of my winter wardrobe. I couldn't possibly imagine a year without those.
Damn it, all my favourite garments are winter clothes. I won't even look like me, if I don't take them. No way am I leaving the best bits of my wardrobe behind.
But I still haven't packed any books. And I forgot about my leather jacket. It's surprisingly bulky. I spot my runners, concealed beneath a towel by the foot of the bed. I thought I had already packed those. I curse, silently. The boots come out. The scarf, too. I fold it carefully, place it back in my wardrobe.
But the hat...
How do you pack for a year?