C. and D. came rushing over to welcome me back…”Did you tell us you were going on vacation?” C. asked me. I had plum forgotten. I didn’t think that my absence would have an impact. “We were worried that you were sick, holed up in your apartment and needing nourishment.” I told her about my coastal backpacking trip with my sister Jubilee and my aunt, followed by a wonderful weekend on Bainbridge Island. D. and C. carefully unwound the knit line across the street for me and I was filled with gratitude. I have been going slowly all day–I almost didn’t make it to my knit but I’m glad I did because it was really peoplelicious… It was a late knit from 7 to 8 pm tonight, full of striped mosquitoes that dive-bombed me repeatedly like kami kazi’s.
The sunset tonight was spectacular. Golden sunlight sifted through a horizontal slit in the clouds that diffused downwards in a soft rectangle of light on sky and water like a panel from a Rothko painting, only of goldleaf. Jay came meandering over, wearing a bright yellow “I Love The Ducks” shirt. C. and I asked him about it–the Ducks were his kids’ sports team in college…I had been picturing his backyard full of fluffy, quacking ducks. I liked my idea better. I showed C. my new eye and hand cream and she started rubbing it around her eyes. “It’s age-defying cream,” she said. “I’ll be five years old by the end of this hour of knitting!” “The age that I am inside me is much younger than my body,” Jay said. “The older I get, the more able I am to stick with something for a long time…” “You must be really old,” C. told me, “Because you’ve been working on this project for so the last 3 years…” “Yes, I’m 103 inside,” I said. “You’ve aged well,” C. said smiling.
D. sat on the end of the bench, giving pats to all the dogs that walked by with their owners. “Come over here and let me pet you!” he called out to a dog with long, stringy hair in its eyes. The dog yapped at him. “Or come over here and bite me,” D. said and tousled with the dog, another Maggie. A young man walked by carrying his dog Oscar who was wearing a useless leash around its neck. “Why is it that everyone carries their dog past the bench?” D. said loudly enough for him to hear. “My dog refuses to leave the house so I carry him. Later I’ll put him down and he’ll get his exercise by running home.” “We see a lot of people dogcarrying instead of dogwalking,” D. said. Oscar started growling at the fire hydrant in R.’s front yard. “For whatever reason, he hates it” the owner told us. Perhaps the shape suggests a midget in a red shirt with little arms jutting out on either side. “Look, Christen, the sky is turning pink!” C. said. “Good job, God!” she called out. Jay said that sometimes he sees something so beautiful, it stops him in his tracks. “Like that lady across the street,” he said. “She looks like she’s writing a poem inspired by the sunset.” “Or maybe she’s just catatonic,” I said. She had been standing on the crest of the hill for several minutes, not moving, her back to us. C. and D. headed inside for the night and Jay started down the hill, magnetized by the sunset.
Then G. and her friend Janet crested the hill, and crossed over to sit on the bench with me. Janet told me there’s a psychiatric treatment called EMDR which involves activating both sides of the brain through the use of the eyes. It’s a highly effective modality even though scientists don’t fully understand why it works. Apparently, knitting is a form of EMDR! Her friend had had her leg amputated due to cancer, and whenever the pain of her phantom limb became too strong, her husband would grab her knitting needles and she would knit until the pain subsided. “How’s your mind?” G. asked me. “Great,” I said, and I thought about how knitting really has worked wonders for me. Since knitting, my short term memory has improved, my mind feels clearer, and I’m more able to relax and enjoy what comes.
Jay returned from his walk, it got dark, and the three of us stayed talking for a long time at the bench. G. told us about her mother. “She was only happy anticipating the future, or remembering the past, the present was always sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.” Jay said softly, “Did your mom have a potty mouth?” “No, I do!” G. laughed. “My mother taught me so much…” she said and her friend finished the sentence, “about what not to do!” They offered me raspberries freshly picked from G.’s garden, then headed home with Reggie, G.’s graceful longhaired dog. Jay wound up the line for me. I had been carried through the entire hour of knitting, assisted by my friends.