Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Great Aunt's Neckerchief

Isn't that an awesome word?  Neckerchief?  It's sort of old-fashioned and silly, but perfectly descriptive.  A neckerchief, in case you were unfamiliar with the term, is much like a cowboy's bandana.

But it's generally not paisley, or cotton.  And it's usually worn by ladies.  You know, those silky squares of fabric, pinned around their necks?  That, my friends, is a neckerchief.  And I happen to own one.  I admit, I tend to wear mine as a bandana, over my hair - which is how I'm wearing it today.

Because lets face it, I don't have power.  And my hair, while carefully washed in the sink, is not looking touchable-fabulous-hair-model good.  While this little square of fabric is bright and beautiful, with it's orange and teal pattern and white edges.  Obviously, it is the preferable option to look at!

Before it came into my possession, it belonged to my Great Aunt, on my mother's side.  My Great Aunt Jan was my Grammy's sister, and a highly educated and independent woman (before lots of pop stars were singing independent-woman anthems every summer).  She traveled the world as a lawyer for the United States Government: I've always imagined her to be eloquent, self-sufficient, and strong.  A little firey, quick with a quip and we know she could hold her drink and her own against any man out there.  My mom had a precious few of Great Aunt Jan's rather exotic "knick knacks," like a silk painting of a tiger she picked up in Vietnam.

I don't remember how old I was when I first inherited this scarf: which is fitting since I've no recollection of when I decided I wanted to travel the world too.  I've always intended to travel the world, armed with this square of fabric, to cover my hair, and wipe my brow, and liven up my drabbest outfit, and shelter me from the sun.  This past spring I took my first international trip, and you can be sure this kerchief was there every step of the way.  Nestled securely in my carry on aboard the plane, tying back my hair in the streets of Trinidad, shading me as we paraded all through the first day of Carnival, wrapped securely around my wrist on the second day.

In fact, somewhere in the Caribbean there is a picture of Carnival Tuesday, where you can see a pale tourists arm, wrapped in a teal band of cloth, reaching for the sky as confetti rains down.

I like to think my Great Aunt saw that moment from Heaven, and knew I was waving up to her - strong, independent, and ready to see the world.
(Me with my bandana and my friends at Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2011)

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