Today was supposed to be spent preparing for a warp painting workshop on Saturday. A good friend emailed last night that she was having ladies in to knit and would I come? Oh, would I. Get me out of here, away from sprouts and juicers, far from the vacuum cleaner and toilet brush. Knitting has been on the back burner for a couple of weeks and it would be good to pick up needles and yarn again, and hear the news of friends new and old. It was so therapeutic being there with these women that I could feel myself decompress afterward.
Ever since I got back from Atlanta, I can’t put my finger on it, but my stress level is way, way down. Something about being there, away from the day to day aggravations, especially the computer, helped me to relax. It also acted as a sifter. The things and people I really missed rose to the surface. The stuff that has been thorny or prickly was absent and I will let them lie.
Women are their own worst enemies. We take on more than we should, and often get sucked into what we shouldn’t. How much of my life has been spent doing what I thought I should be doing, not what I wanted or needed to do. Right now I am careful to avoid anything requiring more than about two months of my time. That leaves out most commitments. There was a time I could do anything for a year. I knew that when I volunteered for something, and gave my year commitment, that at the end of the year, everyone would get pissed off at me for not staying on. I could give examples, but they are still mad and might read this!!
One of my friends and my daughter are selling their homes. I see my daughter slowly decompensating; by next week, she may be swinging from the trees in her yard. My friend has two homes now; the sale of one fell through. Except for twitching of the eye, she appears totally at peace in spite of not knowing where she will be living next week. Having strangers coming through our houses to critique them does awful things to us. It is just not enough to make sure the toilets are flushed. Everything has to perfect all the time. So we want to sell our house and I am refusing to right now. In addition to the poor housing market, I know that the only way this place will sell is if I move out of it and take my three dogs with me. Only another woman would understand that.
I like having women around me who are at different stages of their life than I am. One of my friends is approaching ninety years of age. She is still living independantly. She no longer drives because the arthritis in her left knee is bad enough to prohibit pressing on the brake with it. However, she lives right at the K bus stop in Philadelphia, next door to my old house, so her movements around town are not curtailed. She’ll often suggests she’ll take the train into town from Mt. Airy and I will pick her up at 30th Street Station, so I can avoid driving up to her house. But the thing is, I like going to her house. When we first moved to that neighborhood from our lily white racist Michigan town in 1979, she was the first African American woman I met. Back in those days, she was running all over the city as a Master’s prepared social worker. We went everywhere together. She would introduce me to her coworkers and casual aquaintences as her daughter. We still laugh about the looks we got. She also introduced me to trash picking. She had an uncanny ability to pin point the trash bags that contained money or treasures. Out of all the things she used to do, trash picking is the one activity she misses the most. I like sitting in her kitchen and drinking tea from a cup she may have unearthed from the neighbor’s trash.
Another friend, one who went through some fairly horrendous life changes while we were in nursing school together, lived in her car for a time. Her children went to live with their father and she was free to have a good nervous breakdown. There was nothing I could do for her. I knew where she was ‘staying’ and would go there periodically to make sure she was still alive. Amazingly, every time I was with her, I left so uplifted by her faith in life and in people. It humbled me, who had a roof and a faithful husband, a job and food on the table, that I would have one single thing to complain about. Now she is working on her Master’s in nursing. Her children are grown, two boys, and worship her.
Women inspire me. I rarely leave a friend without being determined to be a better person, keep a cleaner house, knit more, be kinder to myself. I hope I do that for them, too.