I was standing outside on my lunch break when a message appeared from a long ago friend.
She had a question for me. Could I call?
I was intrigued, a mystery! I pressed her number.
“Well, hellllooo Megan,” she said in her familiar deep voice. She always greeted me that way – back when we’d see each other. A stretched out hello that reliably made me feel a little special.
I was only slightly surprised to find out, seconds later, that she’d sold her house and was getting ready to move.
This happens frequently in midlife.
“The time has come,” she said.
“Where are you going?” I spoke quickly, there were only a few minutes left before I’d be back with students.
I said how great after she said down south while at the same time feeling relieved that I was not the one packing up and making decisions about things. I expected to remain at a stalemate with my basement for the foreseeable future. What does one do with their first Apple computer, or old National Geographics? Or the box of smocked dresses from my childhood that my mom thought I may want someday?
“The reason for my call” she continued, “you might think is strange. A long time ago, I’m not sure if you remember, you taught my son to finger knit at recess.”
Of course I remembered.
“But then you had to stop because someone complained about…”
“Yes, that recess aid! I’ll never forget how she complained about the yarn and said it was a hazard ‘the kids might get tangled up and choke themselves…’”
“Yes. Well, anyway, he never actually stopped finger knitting and somewhere along the way he got this idea about finger knitting the biggest ball ever, a ball that would be in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
She went on to explain how he finger knitted his way all the way through middle and high school, that it contributed to his well-being.
“Your kidding,” I said. “Wow. Really? That’s amazing.”
As I digested her story of his story I thought of my own; how more than a decade earlier I’d been sad to close my knitting shop. I’d struggled to leave that little room of wool that had fostered relationships in my early motherhood years.
I found myself in that room, meaning, I discovered how all the parts of me fit together. I started to write. I taught kids knitting classes. I realized that being “artistic” means more than knowing how to draw.
When I closed the door for the last time I worried about losing what I found, of losing a reason to write and knit and nurture creative arts. Teaching finger knitting at recess was my small way to keep alive the spirit of my shop, keep alive the spirit of me.
It softened my transition even though it was hard to teach little bits of knitting in twenty minute increments. It barely compared to the long Sunday afternoons I’d come to cherish with my group of kids who came weekly.
I was angry when the recess aide complained and then sad to witness the disappointment in the kids when I stopped bringing my big bag of yarn.
“Yes,” my friend continued, “well, now I have this ball and I don’t know what to do with it- a lot of the yarn in it is probably from your knitting shop and I thought you might have interest in unwinding it and repurposing the yarn?”
“Of course. Of course! Yes, I’d love it,” I said after making her reassure me that her son didn’t want it while also wondering myself if I did in fact really want huge ball of finger knitted yarn.
But then, more thoughts -maybe I could use it for birthday crowns, for yarn projects. I was still teaching but now in a different school, a place where I could use yarn in all sorts of ways.
“Yes,” I repeated, “we can use if for something, surely, and we are always making things here.” Mostly, however, I was just curious to see it.
And then my break was over and she offered to drop it at my house and I gave her my address.
It was there, on my driveway, tucked safely into a cloth bag, the next day.
This magnificent finger knitted ball.
A sculpture, really, a work of art.
I held it, I marveled at its weight.
I showed it to my kids.
I was so proud of the small role I’d been credited with, that I possibly inspired its existence. Teachers rarely know which seeds they plant take root.
I imagined how the small repetitive acts, loop after loop after loop, served the maker in ways I’d never know.
Knitting or really any kind of creative work, has a way of marking time.
Maybe someday this young man will want it back, will want to remember all those years. Maybe not.
In the meantime, it will hang above my desk and remind me of who I am.
It’s the best gift I’ve received in a very long time.