Though I could offer Nat nothing by way of musical entertainment, I became fixated on the idea of weaving a banner. I kept emailing Nat about it, until he gently suggested, as I was so interested, that I visit his colleague, Yukako, in New York, at Loop of the Loom.
The first thing I noticed was how uncomfortable I was--leaning in to reach for the shuttle, getting the rhythm of my hands and feet, finding a center of gravity so that I didn't fall into the loom, settling into a perch on the stool. I immediately understood something new about the Penelope story: Weaving is hard work.
And Penelope ripped out her weaving, voluntarily, each and every night. That is how much she wanted to slow down time. That is how desperate she was to keep alive the hope of her husband's return. Whatever pride she may have taken in her accomplishment was transient--and, I noticed as my small rows accumulated, one does take pride. One does look over the handiwork, and judge. One does feel accomplishment. To undo the accomplishment, which appears inch by tiny inch, is no small matter.
It is wrong-headed. I like to think, after all these years, that I am developing a different head. So I hauled out one of my Useful Tools, a well-honed mental adjustment. I said to myself, Judgement is irrelevant. I will make this for someone else....it will be a gift, so what is important is the love with which I am weaving. (No way was I ripping anything out.)
Soon I left Penelope behind in my thoughts, and dwelled on conversations I had had with Elisabeth. Death is not only the unraveling of the weft, but the unstringing of the warp. My thoughts then drifted into the ocean, perhaps back to Homer and boats sailing the wine-dark sea. And that brought me to seaweed, and winter cliffs....
Two hours sped by. I wasn't ready to stop. I had to buy more time at the loom--and spent two more hours weaving, drifting along on an ocean of thought, longing, joy.
Later I learned that Saori is a hand weaving program founded by Misao Jo in 1969--she started weaving when she was 57 years old! It is "a Zen art of weaving from Japan that is dedicated to free expression and self-development....it lets us celebrate the beauty of our imperfections..."
And because I had my friend, Elisabeth, in my heart--because conversation does just weave in and out of our lives--because I knew exactly what she would say, in her psychoanalytic mode, about such an exchange, I smiled serenely at my mother. And thought, how nice to feel 15. I believe, in lay women's terms, this is called Not Taking the Bait. I felt very proud of my weaving. So I'm not even 15. I'm 5. So what? My scarf turned out to be more than seven feet long, but smiles of beautiful imperfection turn out to be longer.