Just One

IMG_1075 It was one of those taking-stock days where my hands settle on their thinking spots on my hips.  One.  Just one life on this terrestrial ball and then a gallop through time-without-end.     One.

There’s something about stepping back from the tapestry that makes you notice the threads dangling, the ones that didn’t quite get woven in.  They made a good start and then were left.  Dropped.  Those projects that were started with enthusiasm and then an interruption happened and a malaise set in, followed by apathy and then a bit of shame.  It’s unfinished presence rebuked every time eyes settled on it, so it was packed in a box until later.  There it waited, like a sin unconfessed, out of sight.  When the itch to start a new project began, the skeleton in the closet would rattle it’s bones in indignation.

The dress was started back before all the babies came.  White cotton with tiny blue flowers.  It could have doubled as a Little House On The Prairie costume if you added some puffed sleeves.  I was in a stage where I thought maybe I should start making my own clothes and dressing as romantically as I wanted to.  It got half done.  And then it sat.  Ten years.

I lifted that dropped thread and I resolved to have one less skeleton banging about.

It was hard.  Some of the pinned pattern pieces had gone missing in the interim, some things had been cut a bit wrong and needed reworked.  Three hours later the dress was done.  I slipped it over my head and pulled the long zipper up the back.  It looked about ten years behind the times, but done.  I wondered as I turned side to side before the mirror if it could be redeemed with a chunky belt or something.  No.  It was done and it made me look quasi-Amish.  I’d donate it to a favorite thrift shop, where no doubt a conservative lady would happen upon this homemade dress and see potential, high-necked, low-hemmed potential.

That thread was woven in.  It didn’t bring any blessing into my life; it brought an expenditure of yardage and a pattern.  Hours of work.  Guilt.  More work.  Then being given away.  Not all the threads have to have clear meaning.

For the second time today I paused below the peonies cascading over the stone wall on the way to the bus stop.  I buried my nose in the petals and took a deep scent drink, closing my eyes and hoping I didn’t inhale an ant.  I’d already smelled them this morning and there wasn’t really a reason to smell them again.

I grabbed a cluster of honeysuckle as I walked.  When we got to Main Street to wait in the hot June sun for the kids’ bus, I shared the honeysuckle nectar one bloom at a time with Henri.  He seemed amazed that these little flowers were sweet.  A man passed by on a bicycle and looked over his shoulder at me, standing there sipping from flowers like a bee, and he winked a wink full of meaning that I wished I didn’t understand.  My eyes shot down to the sidewalk, down to the strewn petals, sucked dry.

Just one life, this side of the grave, and I smelled the peonies deep again because it struck home that I don’t know how many more breaths I’ve got, or how many Junes.

The truth is, I don’t know how big this tapestry is going to be, how far done it is by now.  But I want to make it beautiful, I want to make it finish well and be whole.  To work in even the odd threads, the ones I can’t figure out, the ones I can’t see adding anything to the finished work.  The thing is, I can’t even see the whole tapestry at once; it’s like I’m an ant crawling over a Van Gogh piece; I see colors and patterns but not what they’re supposed to be.  I can’t step far enough away.

Reuben had been doing handstands on the sand.  And then he wanted to stand right on his head.  For a few brief seconds to look plowed right into the earth like a missile.  Meaningless maybe, maybe not.  Odd thread for sure.  But woven in, just like the honeysuckle nectar on my tongue while the June sun beat down.


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