You made a dream come true today!
"Thank you Tony for letting me play on the field. And super thanks to Jared for throwing with me, talking with me about school and letting me throw in from the outfield. Thank you for letting me have your baseball."
You guys are awesome and one of the great memories of our spring break adventure.
Good luck on and off the field!
I played on the floor next to your chair, the different colored threads accumulating with tiny balls of dust and small bits of fabric. My own pile of scraps and fabric scissors (never, ever cut paper with your fabric scissors!) in front of me, my first memories of feeling the blades slicing clean through the woven threads. There was that bit of deep purple velvet, sewn into some discarded hood. The fabric the softest thing I'd ever felt – I'd brush the nap over my face, my lips, my arms.
I begged for months, wanting to sit myself at the sewing machine and guide the fabric under the foot, to feel the power of the pedal under my toes. I asked you about every button on the machine, how to thread a needle and more times than you liked, "Can I help?" The summer before second grade you said it was time, and I learned to pin the tissue paper pattern to the fabric, line up the grain with the blue line down the middle of the pattern piece and mind the selvage. The completed orange plaid sundress and matching headscarf made us both proud. "Yes, she made it herself!" you would tell admirers at the post office, the library and the grocery store.
Fifth grade peer pressure brought my need for the "right" clothes. You bought a double needle for your machine, figured out how to make the stitching line up just like the jeans in the mall and made me a pair of overalls. We fought over my trying to explain to you that they were not 'just like A. Smiles' without a triangle patch with a double ice cream cone on the bib pocket. When I came home from school the next day, the overalls had an A. Smile patch properly stitched on. You'd bought a damaged thrift store item and reclaimed the patch so I could be a part of the crowd. More proud than embarrassed, I wore those overalls and told everyone you'd bought them for me at the mall in San Diego, which is why no one had a pair exactly like them from the store in town.
When I abruptly announced my engagement in college and you said you were too busy to sew my wedding dress that hurt even more than when you told me you did not like my fiancé. In defiance I bought a sewing machine and started making my own dress. You never knew this but I cried when I'd ask the neighbors or my roommates to help fit it, wishing it was your fingers pushing the pins through and you telling me that no one had ever worn a dress just like this one.
I love falling asleep after a day of surfing and still feeling the waves move across my sore body. I love thrift stores. I love witnessing someone else's moment in the spotlight or day in the sun. I love when my seven year old interrupts with "Are you open?" so he can ask a question or give me a hug. I love planting in the container garden, hands in the soil and dirt under my nails. I love Sandra's homemade lemonchello. I especially love when she hands me a glass and says, "Hey doll, this is for you." I love the feeling of volunteering more than working, doing something useful but not needing anything in return. I love when my son asks things like "Where do people keep racism?" or "Who invented money because it beat up the world?" I love that I can call my parents on the telephone but love most of all that I want to. I love figuring out how to put the pieces together – rounding up what is available and making it work. I love going on a run in a new city and getting lost. I love my daughter borrowing my clothes. Yes, secretly I do. I love the butternut squash ravioli at 2223. I love museums. I love samba dancing and feeling the beating drums all the way down to my bones. I love maps. I love walking on clean wood floors. I love serendipity and the feeling of possibility. I love the comfort of knowing life is unfolding exactly as it should.
"Have you forgotten me?" she wondered each year on her birthday and sometimes during the holidays, too. Family gathering times, big monumental events made her wonder if her birth mom had tracked the days or even years since she had been born or if she had long ago forgotten her.
As a child she daydreamed about what her birth mom looked like and how she dressed. When she was angry with her parents she tried to manifest an ever kind and agreeable birth mom that would soon come back for her. Sometimes she also hated her birth mom for making her different everyone else. At 43 she'd settled into a comfortable place of knowing where she fit in the universe, but now and again wondered, "Have you forgotten me?"
Too many times I’m caught up in someone’s excitement and say “Ohmygosh! You need to make a paper chain!” only to get this shocking response, “What is a paper chain?”
Friends, how are you living without the glorious paper chain? Because of my unwavering love for you, paper crafting and anticipation in general, I present this tutorial “How To Make A Paper Chain”.
A paper chain is the sweet antidote to excitedly waiting for an event, a person, or a big day. You can make a paper chain for yourself or give it to someone as surprise. The longest paper chain we made was just over 100 links long, because someone was terribly excited about turning five. If you are ants-in-your-pants-excited about something you, too, need a paper chain.
Gather these items, pretty please:
Paper (any paper you have on hand will work)
Scissors or paper cutter
Tape or stapler
|the beginning links on a large loop paper chain made of four coordinating patterned papers|
Cut your paper into strips approximately 10- 11 inches long and 1 -2 inches wide. These will be the links to your paper chain. You need one strip for each day/hour/month you are counting.
Take the first paper strip, loop it into a circle and staple it securely closed. This is your first link. The remaining strips of paper are looped one through the next and stapled until your paper chain is the desired length. You can’t mess up on a paper chain – it’s all about the anticipation and excitement. So, don’t be too concerned about the lengths of the strips or how the paper looks, just make the chain and let the waiting game begin.
Ideas for fancifying your paper chain:
- Double up strips of lovely paper , a thinner contrasting strip on top of another strip - I did this for my battle’s paper chain counting down the months until her army days end
- Use themed paper for a specific holiday or event
- Add notes to the inside of a few or more of the links, “I love you because you wake up smiling” or “Only 7 more days until baseball season starts” or “leaving for Brazil in 3 days, start packing your bags”
|you are a dream come true, yes you are.|
- Write fortunes or quotes inside a few links, “Today you will surprise yourself”
- Use color staples or tape
- Add labels (you could print on these!), dot stickers, or other stickers to close the links.
- Make a tiny paper chain with thin strips of paper
|tiny paper chain made with vintage sheet music - for my Napa girls, anticipating our big concert night|
- Mix and match the link widths and lengths for an interesting texture
- Upcycle your paper chain with magazine pages, newspapers, or paper bags
- Add ribbon or tie trinkets to the links
- Use decorative scissors to cut the long edges of a few strips
The elementary school nurse called, my kindergartner had a fever and needed to be picked up right away. I looked at my computer clock and quickly calculated – just enough time to drive to the school, pick him up, give him a tylenol and get back to the office in time for the icantmissthisimportantconferencecall.
We arrived back to work, a place I adore even though it is slim on things like fancy office supplies or food – critical items needed for distraction, with a few minutes to sort out the logistics. A bit desperate I asked my limp looking son, "What can you do?" We both paused and scanned the room for possibilities and he said as he perked up, "I can make my birthday paper chain."
Of course, I now don't remember the important phone call topic – maybe it really was important or maybe it just felt that way at the time. What I do remember: muting and unmuting the telephone line so I could simultaneously tend to my son, cut paper strips and participate in the telephone discussion. I do remember that my boy stayed very quiet, like I'd asked, whispering and making big, sweeping gestures instead of talking to draw my attention to his paper chain progress. His chubby little fingers required concentration to line up the ends of the paper strips under the stapler as he made each link. He carefully worked on the floor, the paper chain growing longer - green links interspersed with printed-on-one-side white papers from the recycling bin.
With the call completed, we cleaned the scraps off the floor and went home for a proper sick day. I drove home considering the conference-call-paper-chain-experience a 'less than' moment in life- a time I wasn't a great mom or very present for work, both roles I deeply love. During the weeks that followed, I overheard my son tell the story, repeatedly and often. "I got to go to mom's work! She talked on the phone! I made this paper chain! I used the stapler at her work!" The entire sequence of events punctuated with exclamation point excitement and the recycled paper chain itself pulled out and offered for inspection to the listener.
Each January he now writes on his yearly goals, "Go to mom's work." Every time I ask him, "What do you want to do at my work?" He responds as if the answer is obvious, "I need to make my paper chain."
A ritual was born.
Hope? Now that makes me smile. Thank YOU for this lovely note!
"There is no love; there are only proofs of love." Pierre Reverdy
On the last day of the conference, I am facing the audience, seated at a table on stage with the other panelists. Our powerpoint presentations are loaded on the laptop and ready for projection onto the two large screens flanking the podium. We've been prepped on how to use the microphone, electronic pointer, and wireless slide advancer. I review, again, my slides, adding a few notes and as each presenter is being introduced, I begin to get nervous. The audience is paying plenty of attention and is a larger group than I'd anticipated (oh, how things look different from the vantage point of a stage). The speaker seated next to me has accomplished more in the last year than I will in a decade. I probably should have bowed, rather than shaken her hand when we were introduced.
I remember to silence my cell phone and as I pull it from my bag, I notice a new text message has arrived, 'good luck on ur presentation XO.' The message does not register as being from either a colleague or friend – the former not likely to use "ur" and the later not necessarily aware I was presenting. I tap the cell phone screen and view the full message. It is from my 12-year-old daughter. Subtracting the time zone difference from the numbers on the clock, it registers - she is getting dressed for school and manually clicked through the alphabet on her phone's number pad to say 'good luck on ur presentation XO'. With love this big, there is no room left for doubt or fear. Calm is a few breaths away. I smile, sliding my cell phone back into my bag.
I've been thinking about Rumi's "polish your heart" and wondering if it were possible to take my own heart out and polish it, how it might feel. Would it be harsh or abrasive? Or would that feel soothing and deeply pleasing?
Perhaps polishing of the heart occurs while it remains inside not requiring a heart surgeon, of sorts, to do the actual polishing. In this manner, the heart is polished by life and experiences.
Do the sorrows leave marks, heart breaks lines, and the expansions stretch marks? How are those polished out? By love maybe? What kind of loves polish? Momentary love, long lasting love or profound love?
It must be the daily loves, the rituals, the personal that gently polish the mares and wounds. This polishing would leave fingerprints on the heart, reminders.
Rumi, were you talking about polishing my own heart or someone else's? Would you know when you've polished another's heart – brushed up against it in a consequential way? Perhaps you never know.
Maybe that is the work of a master heart polisher- to not know when or how the mending occurred nor even that it was needed.
Proof is walking out of the airport and seeing you waiting on the tailgate of your truck.
Proof is the postcards.
Proof is the necklace made of plastic beads spelling "mom & me", unwrapped with glee and presented with sticky hands.
Proof is wearing that necklace, often.
Proof is veggie burgers in the freezer.
Proof is the BART ride on your long layover.
Proof is the 'saw this and thought of you' text.
Proof is the repaired faucet.
Proof is your hug.
Sitting on the bleachers with you and chatting about life meant the world to me that spring.
I've often remembered you, the gems you taught me and the stories we shared.
Thank you. You are such a good soul. I'm so grateful our paths crossed during those months.
The pieces of the story are written in fragments in several places. The major paragraphs are scrawled in my composition notebook, the black and white one I take to writing sessions at the café. There are a few great introductory sentences, out of order, on a page in my journal. I'm afraid the pivotal transition is temporarily misplaced on the floor of the car – I'd written those lines on the back of a field trip permission slip, the only paper I could locate as soccer practice was about to finish.
The real problem with finishing the story, however, is not locating the various pieces and arranging them into a cohesive and readable format. The true reason I'm not finished writing the story, is that the final lines are caught in the back of my throat. Directly in the back where I feel the tears before they have actually formed in my eyes. Back where if I close my eyes, breath consciously, and swallow in a soothing way I can keep, for now, the tears from falling from my eyes, down my cheeks and on to my chest making spots on my clean dress, which also keeps the ending of the story unspoken.
I know you understand that sometimes the story is not stuck in my head or in my fingertips poised on the keyboard but actually stuck in the back of my throat.
Soon, I'll find the paper in the car, round up the words from the composition book and journal, fit together the pieces so they tumble along with ease and eventually my voice will free the final lines so the story will be complete.