04 November 2006

One Year

One year ago today, I packed up everything I own into a U-haul, said goodbye to the city I love, the friends I love, and the boy I love and headed south to face the unknown in Virginia. Not for a moment, not even in the long, dark, cold, and incredibly lonely first few months I lived here, have I ever regretted this decision. This year has been one of incredible growth for me. I’ve learned so much – about music, about other people, about life, and about myself – since I moved here. I’ve learned to be alone, sometimes for days at a time, and love it. I have gained an appreciation for solitude and silence. Which, in turn, has given me an appreciation for the appropriately timed loud, late, and irresponsible ruckus. I’ve become an infinitely better musician, dancer, and scholar. I’ve gathered a vast body of knowledge about things natural. I’m a better cook. I read more. Thanks to a distraction-free lifestyle, I knit more. And thanks to this blog and the friends I have made through it, I have become a much more knowledgeable knitter.

All year, I have tried to look forward, to appreciate the present and focus on the future. So, it’s strange to be sitting on the other side of this year, finally looking backward. Part of me is so excited, because I live here now. I went from being a visitor, an outsider, to a community member. My priorities have changed and I’m independent now. I feel stronger, alone. But then part of me feels so sad – I still feel longing for the life I left behind. It has been so challenging every time I’ve returned to Philly. I’m reminded of what is gone, what I had to sacrifice for this growth -- the friends who have moved on, the love I lost, the coffee-shops and bookstores and bars that I used to frequent… I don’t know. I can’t help but be nostalgic. In the end, I’m not sure I’ve found my place in the world yet. But maybe I’ve learned how to be patient and wait.

Anyway, what with the stress of finishing grant applications and getting ready to go out of town for a month, I've been all about the comfort. I made chicken soup from scratch earlier this week (is it weird that I love deboning a whole chicken?) and made the comfort dinner of all comfort dinners last night:

That's steamed cabbage and sweet potatoes topped with onions and wine-sap apples caramalized in bacon fat. A weird mix of nouveau German and Irish cuisine (made even weirder when I drank it with an English style American stout, but whatever...) but hot damn! it was good.

Then there's academic comfort:

Nothing makes me feel better than knowing this puppy is backed up.

And lastly, knitted comfort. Despite the fact thtat I have five projects so close to being done, I could probably finish them in an evening, I can't seem to concentrate on anything that isn't really simple. So instead, I made this:

Pattern: My own (if you can call it a pattern -- its just sand stitch with "hidden" decreases)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay, color #113
Needles: Clover bamboo dpns, US 7

Thoughts/Meditations: Two years ago, this skein of Manos was the reason I started knitting again. I went with my roomate to Sophie's to hear Debbie Stoller speak on her book tour for Stitch and Bitch Nation. Afterward, I walked around the store, looking at things, touching things, and then I saw this skein of Manos and NEEDED it. I bought it, some size 8 dpns and that evening relearned everything I had known as a kid (and then some). The next day, I experienced my first morning of compulsive knitting, sitting on my bed for hours, listening to NPR (I do this all the time now). Within three days, I had my first hat. I loved it, but it was too big. I tried to wear it around, and then finally acknowledged it wasn't very useful. A year later, I ripped it out. I've not been able to use the yarn for anything else... it's too special. Two days ago, I went out to get my mail and realized that over night winter had hit. It's COLD now. So I pulled out the yarn, sized down my needles, decreased the number of stitiches and knit another hat. Guess what? It's a little big :) I think that's because it's stretchy. I LOVE it. All my hair fits in it. It's alternately a little hippy (totally, totally not my style) and a little 1930's (totally my style). Most importantly, it keeps my head warm. I also think it has magical brain power... I wear it at my desk while writing, and I feel smarter.


mintyfresh said...

Beautiful post. Definitely struck a chord with me, as I just packed up my life and left Philly, my job, my boy, etc., to venture on a new life. And today, I'm back in Philly helping the boy pack up the remains of our life together to start him out in a new place, too.

Growth is good. Change is good. But comfort is the stuff that gets us through it. And there's nothing better than warm, soul-satisfying food and some yarn on your needles!

All the best to you, my dear.

Laura said...

i agree with minty, this was a beautiful post. i too am at a place in my life where i see change a-coming and i know that strange combination of excitement and utter terror. also the sense of impatience...i want to be on the other side of the change and know my place in the world. but there's no rushing these things, is there?

times like these, i think to myself, what would i do if i didn't knit? sounds trite, but really...i wouldn't have made the great friends that i have from my stitch and bitch, i wouldn't have the friends i have in this knitblogging community. not to mention all those anxious moments when knitting was all i could do. ok, i'm rambling, but point is, the chord is struck with me as well.

i am not surprised that your hat makes you feel smarter ... i am certain that manos possesses magical qualities. once again v. tempted to wind mine up and cast it on.

Meg said...

Now that you're a mountaineer, no matter where you go, you'll always have a hankerin for your hills of home, take it from me!