Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Place

     Well, I warned you... This is me "recovering" from my trip to Asheville. I've gone very quiet...
     I'm (for better or worse) a prolific facebook poster, and I've barely posted a thing since coming home. No blog in a week. If you haven't called me, you haven't heard from me. I'm  living in my head right now (as opposed to the real world), and really don't feel any need or inclination to take a peek out of this little gopher hole in my mind. I get this way. It's a very satisfying coping mechanism. No cause for alarm.
     Since I'm feeling more troubled than usual, I've doubled down on my escapist tendencies. I wish I could say I'm having an alcohol-fueled orgy or something equally depraved and interesting, but that's not how I roll. What I have been doing, you'll be (dis)interested to learn, is embroidery, while reading Twilight fan fiction. Yes. At the same time. Who knew I was such a prolific multi-tasker? It's been like popping a Prozac with a tequila chaser for me. I haven't embroidered anything in a long, long time, and it's been just the thing I needed to exorcize all that nervous tension from my body. I know. I wish my life was more salacious too, but there you go...
     I learned how to embroider when I was an exchange student in Hungary. I was 18, and did not have the most auspicious beginning in the country. I was barely there a full week before I broke out in chicken pox. Sick, itchy, feverish, homesick, and dumped by my boyfriend, I was a sad, bedridden spectacle who wasn't even remotely emotionally prepared to take my adopted country by storm. My host mother, sensing my immanent emotional collapse, sent me out of the house to the weekly market with my host father, because me sitting at home feeling depressed wasn't helping things.
     At the market, I saw the colorfully embroidered tablecloths for sale, and when I got home, commented that I would love to learn how to embroider. In my family, all the women did some sort of handcraft. My great-grandmother was an accomplished seamstress, quilter, and crocheter, my grandmother liked to knit, and my mom liked quilting and cross-stitch. Knitting and crocheting did nothing for me (mostly because it involved counting and spacial abilities that made my brain hurt), machine sewing didn't excite me much either (I like working with my hands too much) but I liked cross stitching a little, and had been dollmaking since elementary school. My host mother said she could teach me how to embroider, so the next week, we went back to the market for a small pre-printed table doily and some thread, and that afternoon, she taught me the basic stitches.
     I took to it like a duck to water, and spent many, many hours watching unintelligible Hungarian television with my host family, only prevented from going stark, raving crazy by embroidering myself into oblivion. I was a sucky exchange student. I barely learned the language. I dropped out of high school and audited classes at the university. I was out more often than I was home. But since I loved embroidery, no one gave me any grief. If that was my sole attempt at learning their culture, at least it was tangible, so the Hungarians accepted it happily. For once in my life, I was left almost entirely to my own devices. And it was a great year.
     Like writing, I embroider in fits and starts. I'm on a tear now. It feels like a compulsion--like a drug I need hits of. Fortunately, the outcome isn't rehab, but decorative items that might someday become family heirlooms (I hope). When I'm finished with my current project, I'll post pictures. I expect to be done in a week or so if I can keep up my pace. While I embroider, I ease myself into a meditative state, where everything weighing on me washes away. It's a time to compartmentalize my grief, frustrations, and worries and shuttle them to the storage facility in my brain, where they don't seem as immediate or overwhelming. Like yoga breaths, the in and out of the needle is calming and cleansing, centering me, reminding me to be present, to focus on only that which is right in front of me, the colors and patterns and picture emerging, things of beauty that I can control. The everything else, is on the periphery, a colorless nuisance with neither form nor need.
     If you don't hear much from me for a while, this is where I am. In my happy place.

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