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  • It was early August when I boarded a plane to Stuttgart Germany. This was my first trip overseas, and my first trip without my parents or any other adult with me. It was just myself and Sorrell. Sorrell is my cousin and only a few months older than I. We have always been more like sisters than cousins though.
    When we arrived in the Stuttgart airport, I remember being greeted with hugs and excited laughter by our friends the Heckners: Aline, Adrian, and their father Clemens. They lead us to their car to take us back to their home where we would be staying for the next three weeks. Their mother Mireille, and dog Carlo were waiting in the kitchen for us when we pulled up in the drive way. I saw Mireille stick her head out the window in excitement as she yelled too us “cooocooo!” the way they always greeted each other; it was just one of the family’s many adorable quirks. Everything was exciting, though it was difficult that first day to take it all in. We were so exhausted from the long flight and lack of sleep, I don’t think we were ever happier to see a bed in our lives.
    It was much later in the trip that this hat even came into the story. We were driving down to the south of France at 140 miles an hour (there were no speed limits). Mireille, who is not German like her husband but French, insisted we all wear hats to protect our skin from the sun. I was handed this beautiful straw hat that created, when the light shown through, an elegant shadow on my face. Mireille told us that she buys all the hats at the second hand store, which reminded me of my own mother, who buys everything at the second had shop, and always wears a hat in the sun. I myself have a great passion for hats; I collect all kinds of vintage and original hats, so when I saw this one I knew it was special. That evening we swam in the Rind River, we drank red wine (the drinking age in Germany is 16!) and ate fresh baguettes with fine cheeses, as we laughed and talked of the adventures we were going to have.
    I wore that hat the rest of the trip whenever we went outside, and we did have many adventures. The night before we were to leave our new family that we had become so accustomed to living with, Mariel said she wanted to give us each something to remember them by, she asked me if I might want the hat. I think she had noticed that I had been very fond of it, and I of course said I would. I wore that hat during the whole trip home while we said our last goodbyes at the gate, and on two planes and a bus. I wore it not just because it wouldn't fit in my suitcase without being completely crushed, but because it reminded me of all the wonderful times we had together, and it was a way of holding on to those times.
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