Sunday, February 19, 2017

Stitching and Mending

Yesterday was the kind of nourishing day that I hoped it would be, the kind of day we all said that we had needed:  quilt group day!

I say "quilt group," but only one of us is actually working on a quilt.  I took care of my pile of mending, one of us worked on a portable loom, her friend from out of town worked on intricate beading, and two of us worked with yarn (one knitting a sweater and one crocheting an afghan).  I don't remember a time lately when we've been so relaxed as a group, when we've had so much laughter.

I've been gathering with variations of this group since 2002, so I know how the group dynamics can change.  I know that if we have one bad day, it's important to keep going back, because the next gathering might have us back to our warm, encouraging selves.  Yesterday was the kind of high point moment that will keep me committed to this group.

There have been quilt group days that only lasted for a few hours.  Yesterday was one of our more leisurely days:  we gathered at 9, had bagels with cream cheese and salmon that my spouse had smoked on Friday, and got started working.  My spouse came with me, and he and the spouse of our host went outside to explore the new smoker.  We had an interesting tomato cous cous soup for lunch. 

We had great conversations.  We used to all work together at the same school, but now we don't, so there was some catching up to do.  We had great conversations about serious stuff (the future of higher ed, upcoming accreditation visits) and about popular culture--what we've been reading, what we've been watching.  We talked a bit about politics without depressing ourselves.  We watched the behavior of the 7 pets that live with our friend in her house.  We talked about the strange behavior of our students and coworkers.  Every so often, someone said to me, "Maybe you should write a story about that."  I always replied, "In a way, every story I've ever written has been about that very thing."

What I like about this group is that we can go from hilarity to talking about deeply serious stuff.  We had an interesting digression into existentialist philosophy and what happens when we die, and we digressed into questions about whether or not the universe is beneficent.  At one point, the spouse of our friend wandered through and looked surprised.  I said, "Yes, this is your atheist wife talking about Purgatory with your Hindu friend."

Around 3 or 4, some of us had to leave.  Some of us stayed to enjoy an evening meal together:  a pork butt that had been smoked, delicious green beans with garlic, and an interesting potato salad.  And then we played cards.

It was a wonderful day, a day when I could put aside my evergrowing chore list and just enjoy being with a group of people who have been friends for a very long time.  While there's a sadness about the fact that we don't see each other several times throughout the week the way we could when we all worked in the same building, there's a joy in the depth of connection we can maintain by seeing each other once a month.

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