February 5, 2013

The Importance of Being AND

For so much of my life, my deepest internal struggle has been figuring out which lunch table to sit at. 

Remember the junior high lunch room?  If you loved to read and you did your homework, you sat with the Smart Girls. If you liked sports, you sat with the Jocks. If you puffed cigarettes in the bathroom and wore black eyeliner, you sat with the Greasers. If your sweater matched your knee socks and your hair was perfectly straight and you wore a bra (but not a very big one), well, you might be able to sit with the Popular Girls.

I loved to read and to play first base. I had the right bra and the wrong hair. I thought black eyeliner was scary and loved those Greaser girls who were my snow fort buddies in third grade. So where was I supposed to sit?

By high school, the boundaries between tables relaxed. You were probably relieved. I was bewildered. A cheerleader AND she smokes pot? A Freak AND she got a merit scholarship to college?  A Smart Girl AND she wears overalls and work boots... AND black eyeliner?

And.  A concept that has been as difficult for me in adulthood as it was in junior high.  It seems like most people who create wear And with great ease and I envy their freedom.  At 58, I am far better at it than I used to be, but every once in awhile, the rumble from the lunch room starts anew.  

This time, it started with my stitching. 

Over the past six months, I've been a Spirit Cloth junkie. My stitches are starting to tell my stories. They have coaxed me back to my writing.In fact,like so many people who follow Jude, I find that those little lines of invisible basting are connecting me to myself in ways I cannot describe. So all has been copacetic in the Just Going lane. 

Until my most recent applique project came back after months at the machine quilter. 

excuse the photo, you'd need a helicopter to get this right
I took Kim McLean's Lollipop pattern and colored entirely within the lines. All of the fabric is commercially printed and none of it is recycled (I originally intended to use only fabric scraps from work but that challenge quickly went by the wayside.)  In short, it is as different from my current work as it could be. 
And here's the truth: the contrast between those two worlds knocked me off balance. Where am I supposed to sit? 

Which got me thinking about And.  A world where all those things could be true AND the work remains full of Spirit.  Because this cloth introduced me to the peace of handwork and the joy of unbridled color. I started it in 2008 trying to match every last leaf to Kim's pattern and finished it in 2012 letting the circles fall where they may.  I love the old ladies dancing in their sundresses...

...the redheaded boy shyly offering a bouquet....

...and my favorite, the guy showing off with his basketballs

My balance is back. I love this quilt. I am calling it Lollipop AND Me.  

It's amazing what a girl can learn in the lunch room.