I took my bike to the Hub repair shop and got a new inner tube put in, then pedaled to the knitting bench. G. and E. were out walking Buster. G. has suddenly opened up to me, after 3 years of barely saying hello. I don’t know why I am in her good books now, but it is really great! I had a fleeting thought to ask them both to sit for a double portrait some day. I think I’m becoming a neighborhood fixture, at long last. I met a perky blond woman named Erica, and a couple other drivers stopped and chatted. R. drove up and asked if she was crossing the ocean when she drove over my knit line. I laughed.
I picked up a big pile of dog-do left near the bench. I don’t want any of my guests stepping in it.
Some special guests were due to arrive from Canada today, so I decided to unwind the line in their honor. I only got as far down as 15th when my path was blocked by major construction work. I chatted with C, J’s husband. “All kinds of changes around here…including your haircut!” I said, and he blushed. His white mane that flowed down to his shoulders had been replaced by a crew cut, his hair donated to Locks of Love. “There’s your next hose reel,” he said pointing to the reel that held the huge yellow piping for the construction project. Climbing up the hill, I watched preteen girls walking down the hill, holding the knit line in one hand. “What are you doing?” I asked. “We’re following it to see how far it goes.” They said. Hope they weren’t too disappointed.
Climbing back up the hill, a white car pulled up alongside me, and there was Herb, his wife and son smiling out the window. Herb produced a green box like a xylophone case that unfolded into a picnic table with benches! A yellow table cloth, white and blue porcelain plates, a baguette and a bottle of red wine made it look like we’d been transported to an outdoor café in Paris—but we were firmly planted on the sidewalk in front of C. and D.’s place. It was totally, wonderfully absurd, and I couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face.
The food was magnificent: artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes, salami, prosciutto…followed by organic yogurt (strawberry for me) and Mary’s homemade brownies. We invited E. to join us for a glass of wine but he said he was too busy. C. came by and visited over a piece of cake. (We hid the bottle of wine to avoid getting an open bottle citation.) We were all perched very gingerly on our benches for fear that our collective weight would break them, but they held fast. (Herb’s son was the exception—at over 200 lbs, he decided not to risk it, and sat in a deck chair.) Mary peeked out at me from under her straw hat as we talked. Herb’s son Paul was smart and good-looking but already had a partner who stayed behind in Eastern Canada.
In his husky voice, Herb said, “Tenacity!” and encouraged me to keep on with my project. I felt so nourished by the tangible kindness that they had showed me. I felt as if I could knit at least a mile now. Good timing, as usual, because I’ve been depressed lately, especially about my life as an artist, my inability to “make it” or move up the ladder like other people are…my abysmal love life. All the usual petty stuff I find to occupy my mind, and steal my joy in this amazing gift of life that I have been given.
I felt bad about my lame, uninspired answers to Herb’s questions, like “What do you think about as you knit?” “My worries, people, money!” I said, but I was also glad because I didn’t want him to put me on some kind of spiritual pedestal…I’m not a hero, just following orders.
I told them about the Lightcatcher exhibit, “Radical Repetition” and they were taken with the title. Paul noted the use of repetition for emphasis and power in Martin Luther King’s speeches. I mentioned Gertrude Stein’s poetry, and the importance of repetition in rituals. I was surprised when Mary shared about hearing a recording of the name of Jesus, repeated over and over, and how moving it was. I don’t think either of them is religious. Just then, the conversation got cut short by some kids walking towards us on the sidewalk.
We talked about how a certain amount of naivete is probably necessary for all commitments such as marriage—or this project. Had I known the knit would take 3+ years, I would never have started. “Funny you should mention marriage,” Paul said. It was obviously on his mind, but he still wasn’t convinced to marry his girlfriend. He offered to wind the knit line up the hill for me.
The sky was cloudy and grey, but it never rained on us. We got what I hope were some nice pictures together on the bench, and then they were off again in the rental car. I stayed another 45 minutes to finish this unusual knit, chatted with S. the gardener, and then walked home since my bike tire is still flat.
I had had too much to drink and had to take a nap…