As we move from summer to fall I’m reminded of how in the early spring I was contemplating transitions and change. And here we go again. A dear friend has been in the habit of dropping off bags of clothes to my place once a year or so. The pants are always a few sizes to large but other items are quite useful.

I was surprised one year when I was rooting around in one of the bags and I discovered a bunch of neckties. Now if you knew me or saw me out and about, it might be hard to imagine that I might have a penchant for neckties. Frankly, on some level it’s hard for me to imagine.

Nevertheless I decided to put one of the ties on, first to see if I could remember how to tie it, then to see how it felt. Almost immediately I was brought back to the age of six or seven when my father taught me how to tie a tie in preparation for going to Latin Mass at our church. I could feel his breath on my neck and could smell his cologne as he stood behind me and wrapped his arms around me to get at the two ends of the tie. It was a solemn occasion, a mark in time that suggested growth and... change, transition.

Short side to the left, wrap the right side around the left a couple of times and send it through the wraps and adjust.

At the time it was a sort of right of passage, moving towards being a grown-up, a concept I find questionable after many years. Be that as it may, the feeling I had at the moment I was successful in tying the tie was visceral. Somehow now when I put on a tie I get the same feeling. It’s almost as if I go through a personality change.

I worked for a chef once at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst, my former hometown. He brought me to lunch one day and as we sat at our table he said in his thick Scottish brogue, “Okay maan, let’s try something new, if you’re a good sport.”

I replied, “Sure, what you got?”

He proceeded to take off his shirt and tie right then and there and he handed them to me and said, “Here maan, try them on.”

Well, I was game and put on the shirt and tie.

He said, “Do you feel it? The difference? And you know, people will treat you differently.”

He was mocking but not disparaging of my working man’s dishwasher outfit. So we had our meal and I kept the shirt and tie on for a while.

The chef then pointed out, “It’s all a joke, maan, what people think they know of you by how you dress. What’s more important is how you feel maan, tie or no tie, play with it, maan.”

I have to say that during my tenure working with him he was sort of a guide to the mystic in the mundane, and the tie session was a lesson. So now when I wear a tie I am transported not only back in time, to church, to Boy Scouts with a neckerchief, to first days of school, all times when solidarity with normative behavior and appearance caused no ripples. I also discovered a hidden part of myself. It’s sort of a serious side, and yet it is playful. Being transported back in time is joyful and helps shake of the barnacles, or at least loosen them from their long attachment to my spirit.

I have discovered this feeling happens with other changes of attire. Recently, I found a baseball cap with a logo for a popular foul weather gear company. I put it on and, “Poof Maan,” as the chef would often exclaim, I was transported to my 13-year-old self, riding my bike to a Little League game with my newly-laundered uniform, careful not to get the knee socks soiled from the grease on the bike’s front sprocket.

As I biked I would pretend I was on a slalom course, weaving in and out of imaginary cones. Now, these days, I sometimes do the same. What happens is I see the world from the perspective of my younger selves and can’t help to revel in the mere joy of being. Riding the bike, hearing the birds, learning the land, arriving at a destination with neck tie and baseball cap, and having someone approach and say, “How are you, sir?”

And all I can muster is, ”Enchanted.”

Joe Keenan lives in West Tisbury.