Friday, June 12, 2009

Quilts are not so very different from marriages

So, all of my professors freaked out about getting their grades in for the early graduation deadline and I was done with my coursework 2 weeks before graduation. So, what have I been doing with all my extra time?

I made a quilt.

My cousin is getting married this weekend and I made her a wedding quilt like I have been making. I started with fabric that I made custom for them at Spoonflower. When I asked for a piece of text that was important to them, they gave me a verse from scripture: "mortals make elaborate plans but God has the last word." I really like that one. When I plugged in Proverbs 16:1 into BibleGateway, I discovered that the English-language translations were all very different and I didn't know which one they would want. So I used them all and added a bunch of international ones to cover my confusion. Gotta love copy/paste!

I splurged on some fancy fabric from the local quilt store because I just couldn't resist. It was so fun and coordinated with itself so well and Megan and Isaac are super-design-forward (like fashion-forward but more about whole life trends) that the currently popular bird motifs and retro-seventies flair would be appreciated. (Normally I try to work with my stash or fabric from Hancock or JoAnn's since quality of fabric and designer brand names aren't necessary to my experience.)

While I was piecing and stitching, I had a few thoughts about the spirituality of quilting. A lot of quilters would be somewhat horrified at my technique. It's very jumblety, lines are rarely straight and there are lots of puckers. I thought, "If I had more practice, this would turn out much better." This could be said about a lot of things in life, couldn't it? But the reality is that we don't get practice for many things in life. We can't afford to just throw away the results of our work so the first time has to count. We just have to jump in and do it. Looking a my upcoming marriage feels like this. I know this is funny to some of you since I have been married before. In fact, Jacob was apologizing recently and said in a voice full of remorse, "I feel like a complete asshole." My empathy kicked in like that Pablo Neruda poem, "so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close." I didn't want him to feel bad anymore and said, "You're not a complete asshole; I wouldn't marry a complete asshole." It took a full minute for me to say, "Oh shit! I did marry a complete asshole." I backpedaled and said something that was nevertheless true, "You're so awesome that you made me forget my first marriage." All of this is to say that I don't consider my first marriage practice. It was such a different creature. I love Megan's engagement because she has been as terrified as I have been about this. So many people getting married that I know have been together for more than five years or are in other ways absolutely certain that their lives are compatible and joyful. Megan is honest about the uncertainty she has and I love her for it. I couldn't wait until I got good at quilts to celebrate her marriage and she and I couldn't wait to get good at life with our men before marrying them.
I have become comfortable with a spirituality of imperfection for my life. This extends to my quilts. Like life, the lines of stiching are rarely perfect. Interestingly, though, when I was quilting on top of the lines of scripture, my lines got more straight. Do I even need to spell out that metaphor? Also, I think that Megan and Isaac should think of any puckers that their fingers find as kisses. Much nicer than thinking about my mis-measurement or inability to keep the fabric smooth under the needle.
Jacob and I have been talking about how difficult it will be to forge a third path of an interfaith family that practices both religions. Lots of quilters use patterns to create their quilts but I've always wondered where the fun was in that. If you work hard and do it all right, you end up with exactly what you expected. I like discovering as I go along. Jacob is still a little dubious but loves me and is willing to trust me until he believes it himself. You know, "Come on in! The water's great once you get used to the cold." I love that man.
When it comes down to it the process of making a quilt is very similar to courtship and marriage. So much work goes into selecting the fabrics, measuring them, cutting them, piecing them, quilting all the layers together and binding the edges. Lots of mistakes were made and cursing happened but we persevered and produced a final product. But the day after the wedding, you finally get to use it. Our partners help keep us warm and secure. They allow us to accomplish goals we could not have accomplished if we were cold and lonely. Our partners delight us every time we look at their bright colors and custom designs. And that is a great gift, indeed.
I wish Megan and Isaac all of the happiness in the world. I appreciate that she timed her wedding so that I could be in Florida immediately after graduating. I'll stay for a week with my family in a rental house on the beach with a suitcase full of books. Jacob can only stay for a few days in order to conserve vacation time for the honeymoon. With that exception, I expect a week of bliss. Thanks Megan and Isaac!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First, "Oh shit! I did marry a complete asshole." made me LOL

Second, that quilt is STUNNING. Stunning! I love it.

Third, yes, about the uncertainty. We have been together (almost) five years but who cares--we still have no idea what the future is bringing us and it scares the shit out of us but what are you going to do? When we talked about getting engaged that was our big thing, "we will never be sure, because you can't be. So when are you sure enough?" Most big things in life require leaps of faith, I think.