I noticed on my yellow twinset cardigan that a button was lose and about to fall off. I had recently purchased this cardigan from a rather exclusive store and was cursing under my breath about already having to fix a button on such an expensive piece of clothing. But that is neither here nor there. I needed to find yellow thread! As I reached for my sewing basket to look for it I was unexpectedly overcome by memories of times past.
I arrived in Newark, New Jersey from Europe about twenty years ago with my husband-to-be who was American. The plan was that we would live with his family in a small suburban town in Pennsylvania until he found employment (I could not work since I did not yet have a green card) and then find a place of our own. We ended up staying for seven months! His parents, and his grandmother who was staying there as well, were generous and patient people who never made me feel like I was imposing. But regardless, as you can imagine, I felt that I was. I contributed nothing. I grew close to my mother-in-law-to-be, we had things in common; gardening, cooking and sewing. I remember that together we sewed me a beautiful gray flannel suit that I would later use for my first job interview in New York City. At some point, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I took it upon myself to care for her. I clothed her, brushed her hair and watched over her when she was not sleeping. As tragic as it was that she had been given this diagnosis, it had given me a purpose and a way to feel useful. Then we moved to Manhattan. We were married now and I had found employment. When my husband’s grandmother passed away I was given a gift. It was the old wicker sewing basket that had been standing on her dresser. You have to understand that this was an incredible gift. I had admired it from a distance and also used it often while living in Pennsylvania. It represented meaningful memories not only to me, it must have for my husband’s mother as well. Her giving it to me was a gesture of great kindness. The basket was filled with little treasures; spools of thread of all kinds of color, needles, buttons, scissors, thimbles, pieces of fabric, and much more, some of it dating back to the late 1800s. My husband and I divorced a year after we had moved to New York City. We lost contact after that.
After a few moments of digging in the basket, predictably, I found my yellow thread. As I sewed on the button, I felt content sitting there at my desk, dog at my feet, the rain falling heavily outside my window. I thought of people whom I had loved and who had loved me. Some of them were no longer in my life. I missed them. I contemplated what I had accomplished over the past two decades. I also thought of the chances I had missed and some of the things I probably should have done differently. I don’t know how long I sat there with the needle and the thread in my hand. It was way beyond having sewed on the button, I know that.
My friend and I went to see the Prada exhibit at the Met last night. I own a few small Prada items and truly admire the style of this designer. My friend is slightly obsessed with Prada, to put it mildly. She has dresses, shoes and handbags and needs to intermittently be dragged out of Prada stores in order to prevent financial disasters. She is the first to admit that she has a problem and that she does not care to change it. But back to the exhibit itself! This was a truly extravagant exhibit and the Metropolitan Museum just seemed to be the perfect place to display it. The contrast and the similarities of the work of these two Italian designers from different eras were highlighted magnificently. The designs were either displayed freestanding on elevated spaces or sometimes behind glass. Throughout, recreated film-snippets of interviews with the two women were projected on large walls. Feathers, fur, leather, jewelry, silk, lace and velvet had been used by both designers to create dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, hats and shoes. The items were sometimes simple, sometimes outrageous, but always stunningly captivating. My friend and I were initially in a frenzy shouting, “oh, look at this,” or “look over there!” At some point we became strangely silent, just walking next to each other in awe. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but think a few times we both had tears in our eyes. These clothes, some of them created as recently as two years ago and others decades before that were magically beautiful. At the end of the exhibit we agreed, part of the a appeal of these designs were the fact that they appeared timeless. They were classics. For more information, also see: http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/exhibitions/2012/schiaparelli-and-prada-press-release and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/arts/design/schiaparelli-and-prada-impossible-conversations-at-met.html?pagewanted=all.
Image above from Metropolitan of Art webpage.
Last year I came up with all kinds of excuses not to go running. I’m too tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. I just ate. I don’t have time. It’s too late and dark out, not safe to run in the park. Sad state of affairs, really, considering I am somebody who used to love to run and also an active member of the NYRR. It finally got to a point where I decided I needed to come up with a strategy. Then a friend of mine told me about about a friend of hers who had a treadmill in her apartment. My friend’s friend would wake up half an hour earlier in the morning and just hop on the treadmill before work! My mind was made up then and there. I was going to get a treadmill for my apartment too. I did some research and purchased a treadmill for $1,000.00 from Nordic Track, the kind that could be folded up after use. The treadmill arrived a few days later, it weighed several hundred pounds. I had no idea how to get it up the five flights of stairs or how to put it together. My superintendent said he would do it for $100.00. When I came home that same day the treadmill was put together and ready to be used. It was the size of a small, chubby boat and took up about a fifth of my bedroom. I sank in to my armchair and stared at it for a while. This was not good. Over the next several months, I used the treadmill two times and I hated it. A few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion I must sell it. I must. I checked out the Nordic Track website, the treadmill was now on sale for $700.00. I put an add on Craigs List, offering it for $500.00, but there were no responses. I went down to $400.oo, still, no takers. Finally, last weekend, a physical therapist kindly offered $300.oo for it. I almost burst into tears on the phone and thanked him profusely. No more treadmills for me!
This is a great post I found on “The Bright Old Oak” blog. I find it portraits the notion of city well. Thought I’d share it here.