do we change?

When I was little and stayed home sick, there were some very specific things I liked to do. I liked to get out all my mother’s issues of 100 Idées (my all-time favorite magazine) and I would leaf through them, dreaming of building tree houses, embroidering blouses, hosting tea parties, and mailing letters with envelopes painted to match the stamps. After reading the magazines, I would organize them; stacking them first by month, then chronologically. Neatly.

I would move on to her sewing box, which was a brown Tupperware container with a removable divided tray. She had a pincushion with a band of elastic so she could wear in on her wrist while sewing. It became threadbare from use and she replaced the fabric on top with a scrap from a skirt she made for herself, and passed on to me a couple of years ago:

I liked to take her glass-headed pins and stick them into the cushion, placing them where the pinheads matched the colors in the fabric as closely as possible. A mosaic on the surface. Then I categorized her buttons: by size, by color, by number of holes… those that were loners, and those that came in multiples.

We have a home movie of me, age 6, sewing beads onto fabric. Thirty years later my whole life is built around making things from beads, yarn and cloth, which makes me wonder why I ever bothered questioning my life path at all? Maybe it just takes a while to accept the six-year-old’s passions.

I think it’s time I reread Daybook by Anne Truitt. I think I remember her quoting the sculptor David Smith saying that it takes fifteen years to make an artist. It seems to me that it’s taken that long to get over my schooling, and to give in to who I am. A long beginning.

6 Responses to “do we change?”

  1. jude Says:

    i so understand what you are saying. i woke up in the middle of the night about 10 years ago, kind of in a cold sweat… i had just remembered what i had been thinking about when i was about 12 and i wanted to make things…. oh so true about losing the schooling…. oh so true.

  2. Ellen Says:

    I was preoccupied with funerals that included elaborate rituals and prayers for dead butterflies and beloved cat friends. There was a grave yard up the road and I used to stand outside it’s walls and look in: mystified…
    To the side of the graveyard was a sidewalk all made of horizonal wood slats. When we rode our bikes down the hill it made such a great sound.
    Beloved adventurous past times.

  3. Katy Says:

    I love your little girl! Thank you for sharing her fascinations and creations.

    When I was six I loved to dance and sing. I’d ask my dad to put on “clapping records” (classical, folk, rock, it didn’t matter as long as it was a live recording) so that in between performances I could bow to my audience. I believe this also involved costumes.

    Remember Lynda Barry’s piece about loving the classified ads? She was especially fascinated with memorizing the lost animal ads so she’d know what name to call out if she ever found an animal in trouble!

  4. Jen Says:

    So true! Why do we do this to ourselves? So much time wasted on trying to be who we are not meant to, to finally end up where we started from. Like they say in Venezuela “tanto nadar para morir en la orilla!”

  5. Eliza Says:

    We come full circle, I believe. The things that I loved as a child are what I’m doing now; my theater work is just a grander form of playing with dollhouses and building zoos out of blocks for my toys to play in.

    The schooling, the mistakes and the detours in between show us the contrast between what we should be doing vs what we think we should be doing. Sometimes you have to be unhappy to see the happiness. 🙂

  6. Anna Says:

    Hmm, who we truly are, tricky to know for sure, isn’t it. I’ve been an industrious besserwisser all my life. Now I’m a crafting teacher, which is in line, I guess. But I can easily see myself doing ten other interesting things in different fields that would also be me… I suppose the really important thing is to stay true to yourself by not doing what you don’t believe in at all.

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