Today we’ll complete our thirtieth day of quarantine. It’s Easter Sunday. There is a loaf of bread in the oven, tomato sauce simmering on the stove, meatballs curing in the fridge, and a pie that was meant to be tonight’s featured dessert but of which only a few slices remain. I’ve got the second sleeve started on a sweater, a quilt top that’s about a third of the way pieced together, a special blanket being knit in squares day by day, and the pattern for a dress ready to be cut. The sourdough starter I decided to try and make three days ago bubbles quietly on the floor of my closet, while I sit on my bed with the windows open listening to the birds and the sounds of Roux playing with his dad in the small courtyard behind our apartment.
Let’s back it up just a bit, shall we?
Two Sundays ago, it occurred to me slightly out of nowhere that I maybe I could scrounge up enough scrap fabric in my stash to make this quilt. Everything shifted for the better in that moment, and how grateful I am because the two weeks before that stroke of inspiration were spent in a silent spiral of all my worst habits – sugar, scrolling, and neglecting myself altogether. Those days felt a little like how Sylvia Plath describes them in The Bell Jar – blank and stopped.
I have never ever been particularly swift in adjusting to new rhythms, and this has been no exception. How does one find rhythm when there is nothing to do and every day is the same?
For me, that has meant returning to the most essential work of all – tending to the hearth of a home. Of course, I did not know that was what I was doing as I began cutting the fabric into squares, but working on the quilt was the first step in finding my way to a better place.
The day after I began the quilt, our school’s remote learning program launched and that immediately brought a little bit of positive energy to everyone. The next day, I began using my planner again, which I hadn’t had the heart to even open since driving home from school the Friday we officially closed. Crossing things off a list, even little things like “nap” and “knit”, gave me another huge boost and by the following Monday, I found myself in a little bit of a rhythm. The school days move smoothly and there is a palpable contrast to our work days and our weekends.
I accomplish things every day. One of the biggest projects that has been hanging over my head since moving into this apartment has been solving the riddle of the kitchen. We’re just a few steps away from having what Jade has proclaimed to be the most functional space yet which is quite thrilling given it’s also the tiniest kitchen I’ve had since living in New York City. Have I mentioned how much this place reminds me of New York? Anyway, my point is that the fog in my brain is lifting and now I can assess the damage and form a plan.
Obviously, the first thing I’m going to do is challenge myself to get back into shape as quickly as I fell out of shape. This will be a particularly fun challenge because all of my usual methods of physical movement are not currently available to me – hence the falling out of shape – so I’m taking the opportunity to explore things I wouldn’t normally do like virtual fitness apps. I’m also going to do my best to focus on being nourished by food as opposed to being comforted, which is an extremely important distinction for me. Perhaps most importantly, I am going to make it a point to care for myself with grace and intention on a daily basis, things like washing my face, putting oil on after I shower, dry brushing before I take a bath, getting dressed with purpose.
Tomorrow we’ll begin our fifth week of quarantine, our third week of distance learning, and the first week that I’ll be hosting my Handwork classes online. That last bit will be something new that will need to find its way into what is becoming our new normal – and oh, how I’ve missed my students! – but I’m aware of how this is yet another shift to which I will need to adjust. I’m hoping that I’m prepared, that the momentum I’ve found in the projects I’ve created for myself and the balance I’m just beginning to maintain as a result will be enough to sustain me. Best case, I’m in an even better place thirty days from now, quarantine or not.
The quilt is not perfect by any means, but it already priceless to me and it hasn’t even been bound. It’s mostly made of humble muslin cloth, embellished with bits of brightly colored cotton in the sunset shades of poppy flowers – oranges, pinks, yellows, reds. Though I have spent most of my life making things with my hands, never before has the process brought me back to myself the way making this quilt has.
All day long I have thought about resurrection, reincarnation, renaissance. The cycle of building and breaking and building again, this has long been a theme for me. As I was taking yardage and methodically cutting it into smaller pieces to then sew together into one piece approximately the same size as one of larger pieces I began with, it was not lost on me that while it would certainly be easier to have a single piece of large fabric and call it a day, one that has been crafted with care over time, no matter how flawed, is infinitely more beautiful.