Out in the hill country of Texas is a little town called Comfort. I’ve never been there, but in my mind it’s a jewel-like village off a lazy river that never floods, with thousand year old live oak trees, cabins, and land that costs next to nothing. There’s a corner store with an elderly shopkeeper who likes to crack jokes and hand out ice cold lemonade for free, and all the dogs and cats roam free, fed by the local butcher and kept healthy (at no cost) by a vet that lives outside town. There’s a dance every Saturday night on an outdoor stage lit by Christmas tree lights and dusted with peanut shells, and the descendants of Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys (who also live nearby) provide the music. Church bells ring every Sunday morning, when babies are born, when people pass away, and also for any general special or solemn occasion, as decided by anybody who comes by who decides something happened that requires ringing. None of the buildings in town are less than 90 years old, and the young folks always stay to raise their families (or return after striking it rich in the city). It is a town of love, dappled sunshine, cool river breezes, skipping stones, soft earth and candy jars, and I fully intend to find it someday and open an epic and legendary fabric store; there I will retire, sew, and advise tourists on the delicacies of weft, heft, and fiber content.
I mention this mainly because I decided to call this post Comfort, and also because it’s a good reminder of why I have been doing the things I have been doing with sewing, and with working.
I have been doing a LOT of sewing, these past several weeks. Sewing, unlike any other activity I have ever participated in, is 100% effective at easing my mind, even when the sewing is going very poorly. As a person who tends to do a lot of anxious thinking when my mind is not occupied – but also, alas, a person who prefers to live a rather lazy and unoccupied life – sewing’s impact on my life has been radical. For instance, after I was offered a job at the company I used to work for, and I accepted it, I immediately began to get anxious about meeting everybody’s expectations, and about meeting new people, and about leaving my life of leisure behind me, and about having to be at work in an office every morning. For a day or two this just about consumed my every waking thought — but then Paco suggested I switch out our little TV room and my office/sewing room. We spent an afternoon doing this and it worked out so well that I immediately threw myself back in to sewing, and I haven’t felt particularly anxious since.
Sewing eats up irrational anxiety like a sucker fish cleans up a fish tank. Even sucky, mistake-riddled, unpicking-raveled-edge-seams-don’t-match-up-sewing.
Even with all this sewing, however, I have yet to make any clothing that would be suitable for me to wear to work and, in fact, only two or three tops that I ever wear at all. These finished but unwearable projects are hanging in the closet in my sewing room, and even that brings me no anxiety at all.
My favorite top that I’ve made so far is one of the five Kate & Rose Roza tops I’ve made (only two of which actually worked out – and even then, only marginally). I also made a pair of shorts of the Merchant & Mills 101 Trouser pattern; these will never be worn in public despite the fact that they turned out pretty well and also despite the fact that I added red pom-poms to the hems (they are ENORMOUS).
Meanwhile, I started my new job on Monday. It’s in the same buildings I worked in when I initially went to work for IBM in 1999, which is pretty neat from my perspective. Unlike most modern office spaces, these building are all floor after floor of actual offices, which are mostly shared. My new office mate (who has worked at IBM for 35 years and looks to be about my age) also started working from home more than a decade ago, and only plans to come in to the office a couple of days a week. I liked her immediately. In fact, I like everyone I work with (and that includes a small number of people I worked with a couple of years ago, one of whom recommended me for this job). I am content. I am getting up to speed very quickly. I feel right at home. This is not the career I imagined for myself twenty years ago, but it’s darn near close to it. If my dream career is Comfort, Texas, this current career is Comfortable, Texas and I feel grateful and happy to be here.
That’s it for this post, expect to show you a couple of pictures. We’ve got my favorite Roza top, my sewing room… I wish I could show you the shoes I bought (WORK CLOTHES – one big bonus of going back to work), because I love them but the picture didn’t turn out too well so that’ll have to wait.
But shoes. SHOES. I must tell you about this experience I had last weekend! I’ve worn virtually nothing but flip flops and Converse low tops for lo this past decade and more and didn’t even know what size I wear anymore. After twenty years of living in Austin, I finally took myself down to this little shoe store that’s been in business for nearly 90 years and OH SWEET JESUS but it was SO AWESOME. A professional shoe salesman (as in, his father was a cobbler in Cuba and he himself has sold shoes for a living for more than 40 years) measured each foot. He brought me inserts. He wrapped my feet in new socks (when the shoe called for it). He spent a full two hours with me, stopping now and then to chat with other customers who came in and called him by name. This man sold me some shoes merely by instructing me about the construction of each individual shoe, asking me detailed questions about my likes and dislikes of each of the many gazillion pairs of shoes he had me try on, and waiting on me hand and, well, foot. Also, the selection was HOLY SMOKES SHOE NIRVANA for me. It’s called Caravel Shoes, and if you’re ever in Austin, you must find it. And someday, somehow, this shoe store must find it’s way to Comfort, Texas. Clearly, it is already impacting my retirement plan(s).