Friday, April 12, 2013

One Year Later

For those who are curious about why people would spend time knitting sweaters for babies, I am here to tell you why. This is why. This little girl right here. And actually, all little girls everywhere. And little boys, too. Every single stitch is worth it if only for the moment when your best girlfriend sends a photo over the great divide of our nation, which bounces up to a satellite and lands inside of your phone, which makes a little buzz as it bounces against your desk at work while you're eating a burrito bowl, and you look at the picture and let your face spread into the widest grin you can imagine.

One year ago, I had just begun knitting this sweater for baby Frida. Robb and I had returned from a trip to Spain and I came back to normal life with renewed vigor. I bought a skein of superwash Merino on my way home from work and squeezed it on the subway, thinking about Megan, then seven months pregnant, wondering how this one little squishy ball of yarn could possibly work up into a whole sweater. It was springtime and I could not wait to start knitting. And when I wrote this post a year ago on the day that Frida was born, I could only then just barely imagine her existence. I knew she no longer lived inside Megan, but I had not yet met her. I had no idea she was going to have the most amused smile of any child I've ever met--everything is riotously hilarious to her--and that her eyes would squint like Popeye when she's happy. I had no way of knowing she would like Mary Poppins so much, and at such a young age. And I had no clue that she would like to be carried in a harness slung across Megan's chest, but that she prefers to be facing out, examining the world as they walk together. It's amazing how much you can learn in a year.

I was talking with my friend Deb last night about how all of our little choices lead to bigger ones, and how, over time, you can see them shaping your life. Deciding to turn off the television, for instance, is a small thing, but it is also an act of creative defiance. Not that I don't like TV! Sometimes after a long day at work it is the best thing in the world. But most of the time when the TV is on, it's because I'm bored, not because I'm exhausted, and there really are better ways I could be using my time. I feel the same way about playing solitaire on my phone--a game I have had addictive problems with my entire life. It's a time killer, it's what I do when I feel like fidgeting and I don't feel like using my brain. I would be better off gazing at stars, or even removing pills from a sweater, cutting my toenails, opening the mail, eating popcorn, whatever. But killing time? Oh, what a dreadful phrase.

Last year at this time when I came home from Spain, I made two other choices in addition to starting Frida's sweater: I signed up for an 8-week pottery class and I started a regular yoga practice. Are either of these things miraculous in their own right? Well, no. Not at all actually. Am I now planning to become a professional potter or a yoga instructor? Nope! Not in a million years. But what did happen as a result of these choices were two things:
1) The yoga classes reminded me that I am mortal and that I should probably take care of the one precious, wild, and unpredictable body that I have. I don't always know what's going on in there, and I certainly don't know when it's going away, so I guess it is my duty to do some maintenance. But the best part is that, one year later, I see that it's not just a phase. I think that (gasp!) I may have actually changed my life. (And for a person who hasn't exercised regularly since she was a sophomore in high school, this is a fairly mindblowing notion.)
2) The pottery class reminded me how good it felt to be creative in a new way, to experiment with a craft in which I was not necessarily good. Like, at all. But more importantly, it proved to me that I have extra time in my life to be creative. When the 8-week class was over, I didn't sign up for another one. But I did decide to devote time each week to writing. Because if I had time to devote to a craft I wasn't necessarily passionate about (or even good at, for that matter), why not instead use that time to focus on a craft that I am passionate about?

See, things change. This is one year in which I can look back and see a marked difference between where I was then and where I am now. This year did not blend and blur. Rather, it meandered forward, getting me closer to becoming the person I want to be (or perhaps the person I have always been?). And I'm not positive, but I have a funny feeling Megan could say the same thing. And Frida? Well, she wasn't even a person a year ago! So she's definitely becoming the person she wants to be (or, perhaps, that she has always been). But it's amazing, isn't it? How much can change in just a year.

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