Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Sunday afternoon, Jeff and I were taking a few minutes at the dining room table to have some after lunch coffee. A favorite Sunday moment. Chatting away about the kids, the upcoming family visit that we are in the midst of now, the looming escorting of Juliana off to college here in a few weeks, recapping the book signing from the day before, etc. Typical life download that we do every few days when we get the chance. I started talking about the exhibit at the Frist as I had seen it for the second time the previous Thursday (going again today, I'm a junkie). There are television screens throughout the exhibit playing a loop of fashion footage from the era of the show. Black and white moving images of 1940's models prancing about in the perfected and gorgeous frocks, holding themselves so still yet moving here and there. And my favorite, the scene of women employed by the house, several of them, sitting around an endless chiffon hem and hand stitching a scarf hem all around. Talking, laughing, enjoying, working. Working.
I cried. Jeff got that look on his face like oh no she's crying. I really am not a crier. Really. Talking about it, thinking about it. The idea of these dresses being the result of the dream of one, then the work of many. The subtle twists and turns of several eager, knowledgeable hands whipping needle and thread and cloth and a dream into something tangible. Still, though tangible, a dream to behold. And half a century later, I'm sitting at my dining room table crying about the beauty of the hand stitching, trying to explain why its so special. And my poor, patient, sweet husband, who looked as confused as he could be was not at all confused. I didn't just wet my lashes with nostalgia or appreciation for a dear craft. I sobbed like a baby. I kept saying over and over.... what is wrong with me, I'm such a freak , why am I crying so hard about this. Its my grandmothers, are they doing this to me? I think of them when I see that group of women sewing, I think of each of them... How does this not make everyone cry? where can you see this anymore? - a scene like that- I'm sorry. I am such a weirdo, I'm sorry
You're just passionate, he said. (insert adorable husband smile with that)
Oh. Yea. I guess. And weird, I said. (insert dorky, wimpery wife sniffle with that)
The next day I was putting some freshly washed bath towels in the linen closet of the boys' hall bathroom and I was sure that I heard the sound of running water through the walls. I instantly thought back to a few months ago when I learned too late that the boys had let the outdoor spigot on for like, uh, two weeks without me knowing and we paid an impressive water bill. I dropped the towels, headed outside, mummering something about a lashing (though I've never delivered one in my life). But the spigot wasn't left on. After following the snaking hose, I found at the mouth, a really damp area where it had been left on weeks before. And for the first time ever in my yard I found a tangley patch of wild passion flowers growing out of the damp earth. Beautiful. Plucked one. Plucked a green pod fruit too. Completely forgot about the running water sound. On the way to the studio to take pictures (of course I had to) I thought of the embroidery that I had started the day before. The flower made me. The colors. So unbelievably beautiful. Like sea life. The flower, and those spindly, curly threads, of course. Threads.
So if I didn't have passion the day before, when I was accused of such, sobbing at my dining room table, I found it the very next day. In the midst of laundry, no less.