STATE of Mind / Memory
When I was 19 I bounced around a lot. After living in a cabin in the woods apprenticing for a textile artist (who shaped my life), I eventually moved to a new town and transferred to a different college. I knew no one and soon realized that it wasn’t great for me.
I ate a massive blizzard from Dairy Queen every day (literally) and dyed my hair a wrong shade of brown. I lived in a run-down house, and soon became friends with my neighbor. He was in his 80s and must have been 6’5”. He had no children, and his wife had passed years before. I’d visit often, almost every day. We’d sit in his messy house, he’d tell me stories from his life, I helped him fetch things, make dinner. We’d put on records and just sit together. For a long time, he was my only friend.
Then one day he didn’t answer the door. I watched out my window for days – his truck didn’t move from the driveway. Eventually, I called every hospital in town and found him. I was nervous about visiting – not sure what condition he’d be in – and worried I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
He had lived in the same little house for more than 50 years. I imagined him in the hospital, longing to be back in his house, so I made him a small painting of it, down to every last detail. And when it dried, I set off to see him.
I vividly remember standing outside the door of his hospital room, conjuring all of my courage to walk in. I felt like a child and recall thinking I was crossing over into being an adult at that exact moment. I had never visited someone in the hospital before without my mom or family by my side, and I realized how much strength it took. To smile and be cheerful while you’re a total wreck inside. Before this, when facing life’s more painful moments, I would hide behind my mom as she gracefully handled complicated situations like these.
Now I had to go it alone. He was so happy to see me. I gave him the painting, which made him smile. And we sat and talked for a long time. I told him I’d see him soon.
But I didn’t. He died a few days later. I only knew because his niece and nephew showed up for the first time in a year to rummage through his things. They told me he talked about me and then said I should go inside and take a few mementos from his house. It was surreal. I took an extra large flannel shirt and a key chain.
Now, almost 20 years later, I live in that same town again. My kids occasionally get Blizzards from the same Dairy Queen. I still have his flannel shirt – my husband wore it today. Memories of Mr. Huth and that chapter in my life rushed back to me. It got me thinking about clothing and textiles and how they can help us keep memories alive. It is so powerful. I surround myself with relics like this. From a snip of my Grandpa’s silk tie that I wear in a locket, to a hat I made from the fleece of my favorite alpaca, Carmen, to Mr. Huth’s shirt. This is the way I hold on to people. As the textiles wear and soften, it’s as if they’re growing older with me. Even when the person on the other side of those memories can’t.
As the holidays roll on, and this monster of a year comes to a close, I hope you're relishing in the little moments and holding your loved ones close. Even if they're a shirt.
Grateful in 6 WordsThe NY Times asked their readers what they're thankful for, in 6 words. The result is a list that will make you laugh, choke up, give you chills, and leave you feeling grateful to be alive. Read our favorites below and the rest here.
The crinkling eye above the mask.
Friends who give me streaming passwords.
More homemade pasta, no more jeans.
No shame in elastic-waist pants.
Braless at home? No one cares.
Teenage son still likes to snuggle.
My parents live two blocks away.
I am bored, but not dead.
Ambulance took him. He came home.
Reached age 92, grandson reached 3.
Got sober during 2020, stayed sober.
Wildfires took much but we survived.
Volunteers who take experimental vaccines.
Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers. Healthcare workers.
Pandemic baby after years of trying.
My toddler and my weed guy.
I watched her learn to read.
Out of prison with great job.
Once again, my Black vote matters.
Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia.
The first female Vice President, baby.
The women who came before me.
I might marry Coronavirus Boy Toy.
Postponed wedding, having a baby instead.
Fell in love at age 75.
TaskmasterRealizing this email is on the heavier side, we're lightening it up with the gift that is Taskmaster. If you haven't heard of this gem of a series, you're in for a treat. One by one, our entire studio has watched all available seasons on YouTube and we're all the better for it. It's truly one of the best things to happen this year. It's a total joy to watch and we wanted to pass it along.