Posted by jade crystal harmon
:1: the past
I don’t remember how I learned to braid. The memory begins with me watching my eight-year-old fingers as they rapidly hooked bright strands of embroidery floss with mechanical precision. It was a super power. I watched them in awe. I could not have told you how I did it; my hands knew the equations to achieve perfect tension, the order of operations. But while they deftly wove the strings into a strong chord, the ends far below would dance and tug into a snarled ball so tangled it brought me to tears – the perfect woven symmetry crashing into chaos. It took hours to pick out those knots.
:2: the present
The preschool dropoff, children weaving the morning’s narrative: they are penguins looking for fish, smashing plastic trowels into the frozen puddles and fluffing wood chips into nests.
Mine won’t wear his mittens so we twine our fingers and avoid all the sidewalk cracks. Our nails are bitten to the quick. Did I stitch the habit into him in the womb? Our soft, sleepy morning worlds are splitting along a perforated line. I will go sit at a desk and curse casually; he will build and scribble and pee in a miniature toilet. Without me. I get it. But.
While I walk to my car in my grownup shoes, the skein between us pulls taught and twangs in the air. I’m aching to keep him close, smell his hair, but I pull and the chords stretch like putty as I drive away.
By the time the sun is tinting the tree trunks nectarine orange, we’re rolling up our skeins, magnets pulling our bodies closer, laptop bag thumping down by the rubber boots, squeezing each other over a pile of legos.
I sit back on the rug and watch in awe as the being my body made with perfect, mechanical precision moves and speaks with no help from me; synapses miraculously perform ordinary little symphonies, verbs tumble after adjectives, humor erupts. He binds me with his opinions, fabrications, coy expressions, his taste buds for sauerkraut and watermelon. I am in awe.
But it’s the witching hour, we’re all worn out, and a snarl ball is headed our way to snag the symmetry. Fortunately, practice has made my fingers a lot more patient when teasing out the knots.