My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary recently. In keeping with my recent tendencies, I marked the occasion with a special cross stitch, and by sewing a new top to wear out to dinner.
The cross stitch isn’t done yet, probably won’t be for a couple more months. It is a little, or a lot, beyond my current abilities, so I make a lot of mistakes and progress is slow. Once it is done, our names and wedding date will be in the center. I plan to have it framed and then to hang it on our family picture wall. Some of the mistakes I make get picked out and corrected. Others I allow to stay, telling myself they add interest. That is probably some kind of a metaphor for 20 years of marriage but I choose to let it lie for now, rather than exploring it at length.
The top I finished the day of our anniversary, a little after noon. My husband had planned to take the whole day off of work so we could hang out together. However, when he saw I was immersed in finishing up my sewing project, he decided to work until I was done. (He works from home, so the pivot was easily made.) I knew it was a little silly to choose my sewing project over time with him, but in my defense our kid was away at sleep-away camp, and we had already spent more time just the two of us that week than we had in around 10 years. The time together was sweet, don’t get me wrong, but losing a morning to sewing seemed like an okay trade.
When I completed the top, I immediately put it on and had my husband take a photo of me out in our yard. I felt that familiar feeling of pride in my accomplishment, that one I rarely feel about my writing. Then we spent a sweet afternoon together, followed by a sweet evening where we went out to dinner at a restaurant that allowed us to rent their private deck in the middle of a farm field. We dined on salmon and farm-fresh vegetables surrounded by sunflowers, bees, chickens, and wandering farm cats. It was magical, and I felt great wearing something I had made myself, with my own two hands. I don’t know if a metaphor for 20 years of marriage lies in there somewhere too.
The week after our anniversary, I discovered a major mistake in the cross stitch, one I couldn’t just let lie. I spent the week picking out stitches rather than putting them in. Picking out stitches is a delicate affair, because you don’t want to cut a hole in your ground cloth. So I carefully undid my own work, day after day. Picking out stitches isn’t as satisfying and meditative as putting them in, but it is possible to get into a rhythm with it. And I guess there is a satisfaction in putting something to rights.
When I write, revision has often been my favorite part. It is so much more fun to fix something than it is to create something out of nothing, when it comes to words. When it comes to floss stitched through ground cloth, it seems I feel differently. I’d much rather create than revise my careful work, when it is made with a needle.
I have been writing this month. Nothing that counts as creative work, but I’m on a committee for my UU church that is organizing the annual pledge drive, and my job is to do the writing for that. So I’ve been writing what I guess counts as fundraising copy. It isn’t easy, and I’ve never done anything like it before. I do still put my heart into it, which is made easier by the fact that this is fundraising copy for something I do truly care about. I think it has been stretching me in interesting and productive ways. I’m learning something new; this isn’t the same old memoir and poetry. I don’t know if I get as much of thrill out of it as I have at learning to stitch, and then sew, but I do get satisfaction from learning a new form. It’s keeping me busy. It is nice, I think, to have people waiting for my words. Normally when I write, there is nobody waiting for me to finish, eager to read.