I know it’s nearly the summer solstice and spring is coming to a rapid end but I’ve finally found the motivation to do a little spring cleaning around here.
Maybe it’s because we lost bids on TWO houses last week, bringing our total to five. We did what any sane person would do, gave up and started dreaming other dreams. New bike dreams. Flour-grinder dreams. Travel dreams. We’d still like a house, sure, but if the universe isn’t going to pony up despite a year of our best efforts, well, maybe it’s time to take the hint. And we’re both the happiest we’ve been in months. Go figure.
So, with all this new found energy we’re doing another round of paring down, another round of removing-duplicates from our apartment-merging last August. Part of the pairing down ritual, at least for me, is USING stuff that is sitting around. This is especially true of the craft supplies. It’s time to sew up, embroider, knit all those beautiful piles I keep hording for some rainy day.
Once such pile, sitting sorely in the middle of the craft area, is a basket of my dad’s old clothes. His flannel pants, his denim shirts all brought home last January and parked on the floor and unmoved since. They still smelled a little like him and I hadn’t been able to take the scissors out and turn them into the quilts they’re destined for.
A few weekends ago the women in the family (and extended family) gathered for a quilting/crafting get-together. As I thought about the project to bring, I wanted something I could transport easily (no packing up tables and sewing machines here, thank-you-very-much) and didn’t require too much concentration. There are too many small people and too many conversations to keep my mind on track of anything complicated. I quickly, without thinking too hard and thus changing my mind, threw all the flannel pants into a bag along with a pair of scissors.
There was something quietly cathartic about nonchalantly picking up those scissors and my dad’s favorite pair of pants. It was a big moment, but I was surrounded by life – children running, dinner on the stove, endless chatter – and it didn’t have to be a loaded moment. It was life… I was able to make those first few cuts without choking, I was simply swept through on the currents weaving all around me. Up one leg, around the waistband, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then I reached in the pocket to push out the seams, and there I found a used tissue and a sugar-free candy wrapper. So. My. Dad. Some people can’t leave the house without a cell phone or keys or wallet My dad went nowhere without sugar-free candy and a tissue he wore into fuzz. I quietly tucked those little mementos back into the bag and wondered if I’d ever be able to throw them away.
I kept them for a few days, waffling on the issue. P argued I should keep them, sweet sentimental boy that he is. Eventually, I tossed them out. Life is still moving around me, those pants will get sewn into quilts, hundreds of dinners will be made and served, those little babies will grow up and I will get older and die. I can hold onto a great many things – even the bittersweet memory of finding those final mementos – but I can’t hold on to everything and that tissue and wrapper, well, those needed to go to make room for everything else.
I pick away at that project, little by little, crying a bit, laughing a bit, enjoying the slow meander down memory lanes and the internal quest for the quilt that will best showcase the materials it came from. One day, it will be done and I think I’ll be a bit sad. This quilt – unlike so many others – is more about the process than the product.