and why they matter.
In July of 2014, my youngest son and I made plans to go to Oakland, California, to visit my oldest son.
At the time, we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, and only had a week to visit, so the most practical way to travel was by plane. The upside to traveling by plane is that it is relatively quick. The downside to traveling by plane is that there are limits on how much stuff you can bring with you.
For me, choosing what clothes I would bring was easy. Choosing a crochet project? Not so much.
Each crochet project has a rhythm that waxes and wanes. I needed something that would be waxing toward order and waning away from chaos.
A couple of weeks before our scheduled departure, I looked over the crochet projects available to me and settled on a small afghan I had begun in the Spring of 2006. Based on the “Sunshine and Shadow” quilt pattern, it was originally intended as a gift for a baby shower, but twenty-seven squares in, I realized there was no way I could crochet the other 94 squares and join them in the time that was left. I switched gears and crocheted a small “great granny square blanket” with the colors worked in the order of the rainbow, wove in the ends, and called it a day.
The remains of my first effort were exactly that, remains. They moved from front burner to back burner to “I wonder where I put that” and eventually ended up in the “yarn annex,” where they probably would have stayed were it not for my need for a travel-ready project for my upcoming trip.
I sorted through the pieces I had, found the yarns I had originally purchased to make the blanket, and spent the next two weeks working at a fevered pitch preparing the project for travel. At every opportunity I crocheted squares, wove in ends, and then crocheted more squares.
By the time our departure date rolled around, the project and I were ready.
If you’re going to San Francisco
I have many fond memories of visiting San Francisco when I was a child, and so when my oldest son had to work, my youngest and I would meet up with one of my childhood friends and make a day of it in the city.
The first time we took BART and caught up with my earliest childhood friend and her 16-year-old son at Union Square. The four of us spent the day touring Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, walking along the Marina, and up Lombard Street where we saw, among other things, this picture window perfect dog:
A day or two later we got together with a friend of mine from third-grade and took a ferry from Oakland to San Francisco:
where we walked to Fort Mason and saw the inimitable Twinkie Chan live and in person. And after some back and forth, we even fit in a trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge before we got some dinner and called it a day.
But the purpose of the trip had been to spend time with my oldest son, and when we were not across the Bay, he acted as our tour guide and showed us all that Oakland has to offer.
That meant that there was a lot to see, and as my oldest son has been an avid fan of the A’s for as long as I can remember, it also meant that the Oakland Coliseum where the Athletics play their home games was one of or our stops along the way, not once, but twice.
I can’t remember a time when my oldest was not an A’s fan, and his enthusiasm for the team has not diminished in the least over the years. So it was at his behest that my youngest son and I joined him in the left field bleachers — me with my crochet, my youngest with his trumpet, and my oldest with a drum and a gong — for an evening of baseball.
I had all of my unjoined Sunshine and Shadow squares and had planned to join them into rows while keeping (at best) half an eye out on the game. Then, somewhere in the top of the fifth inning when the Orioles were at bat and I was talking to a woman sitting behind me about crochet, Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles hit a two-run homer which, as luck would have it, was headed straight for me.
Even luckier for me, I was sitting next to Sam (aka @cocofingers), another A’s fan as devoted as my oldest son, and he deflected the home run ball with his drum, saving me from getting smacked in the head by a baseball and leaving me to crochet the rest of that evening as well of much of Sunday’s game where I finished the work of joining the squares into rows.
The stories we tell ourselves
To say that I was thankful for CocoFingers quick thinking is an understatement, but in the remaining innings of the game, I learned that “What to do if a ball ever gets hit into the left field bleachers where I’m sitting” was a story that CocoFingers had thought of and replayed in his head many times, which is why, when it happened, he didn’t even really think about what he would do; he simply did it.
My baseball adventures are now a permanent part of this project, and as the Little Prince notes in the book bearing his name: that which is essential is invisible to the eye.
And if, as some neuroscientists think, the purpose of story is to help us mentally prepare to successfully manage when we find ourselves in new and unexpected situations, then those daydreams that capture our attention and help us imagine and then work out the details of how to solve a problem or save the day, just might save a life.