You’d think by now that I’d have the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing down pat. Especially since it drives me nuts when people judge me by my appearance. But apparently the Universe thought that lesson needed to be reinforced today, so It sent me the guy in the orthopedist’s office.
This guy wouldn’t have looked out of place as Daisy May’s brother. He could have played an Appalachian mountain man in any theatrical production. He was almost a caricature of a redneck yokel from back in the hollow.
At first, I didn’t realize he was talking to me. Kev and I were conversing, and I wasn’t paying much attention to my surroundings, beyond knowing who was where in relation to me. Suddenly, there’s a wheelchair right next to mine, wheels touching, and I realized he was addressing me.
“Whar y’ makn?” is the closest transcription I can manage. (I’ll continue in unaccented English.)
“I’m sorry?” I replied.
He pointed to my lap and asked again, “What are you making?”
My therapist strongly recommended I undertake some creative pursuit with a tangible outcome, to help manage my anxiety and bipolar disorder. I poked around on Pinterest a bit (follow me), but nothing really grabbed me. Fortunately, I was heading to Knoxville for Thanksgiving in a few days after this suggestion, and my mother is the most creative person I know. After a long-term substitute teaching job as a middle school art teacher, she found a position as a home ec teacher, which is what she’d gone to school for.
When I explained what my therapist said to Mama, she had an immediate response ready: hexies. More to the point, happy hexies*. And she introduced me to English paper piecing. It’s a method of quilting where you basically fold a piece of fabric around a piece of paper that’s been cut to a specific shape, and baste the folds down. Then as you sew the pieces together, you remove the papers so you can reuse them. These hexagon templates Mama’d found had smiley faces on them.
That’s what I was working on at the doctor’s office. In my lap, I had a pile of un-basted hexies, a pile of basted hexies, and a pile of thread I’d pre-cut to the length I needed for the basting.
“What are you making?”
“I’m sorry?” I replied.
He pointed to my lap and asked again, “What are you making?” He looked both confused and profoundly curious.
I showed him. I explained the process, demonstrating how I was folding the seam allowance down over the paper, whip stitching the corners where two folds met, and how they’d all go together when I was done.
The more I eludicated, the more understanding I saw in his face. And, strangely, joy. When I finished, his response was immediate: “Oh, wow! Awesome!” It didn’t feel like he was using the slang meaning either; it felt like he was full of awe and wonder.
I’d been having a rough morning. Lots of reasons, but we’ll just say I lost my Ananda – my joy in existence without which the Universe will fall apart and collapse. This man I had judged solely on appearance was, in fact, the angel whose joy in what I was doing led me back to my own joy.
* Credit to Mollie Johanson for the happy hexie pattern. May all the blessings of a benevolent Universe be upon her, now and forever more. So mote it be.