I was at a Red Sox game this summer, thinking about quilting.
It wasn’t my fault. I was trying very hard to concentrate. I like baseball, in theory. I have been a Red Sox fan for almost 30 years since my husband brought home a Red Sox T-shirt for me from a business trip. Now, of course, we live here which makes me doubly happy to root for them, but the details of the game have never been my strong suit.
That night it was very confusing. They were playing the Yankees, and one of the players who had been on the Red Sox earlier that week was suddenly playing for the Yankees, due to a rash of last minute trades. A player I liked from Oregon, my home state, who had once been on our team, was also now a Yankee along with an old Mariners favorite. I didn’t know who to cheer for. As someone who is vague on the details of sports rules – did you know you can’t strike out on a foul? – I often follow the lead of the crowd to know when to cheer, but this crowd had a higher than usual density of loud Yankees fans. So, for someone who likes things to be black or white, it was requiring a lot of attention to keep track of who was on first, so to speak. I thanked my husband for answering all my questions, and he made some comment about how many questions he would be asking if we were at a quilting convention, and well, the next thing I knew, I was thinking about quilting.
My yearning for black and white brought to mind the quilt I am making for my son, who is in his twenties. Back when he left for college, I decided to make him a quilt. Not wanting to offend me, but also not being partial to traditional quilts, he asked if it could be black. Undaunted, I bought fabrics in black, grey and white and began to design an appropriately male quilt. I love the process of planning a quilt. I live with it in my head, I daydream, and sketch and scribble ideas on graph paper for a long time before I cut and sew. Quilting is an unusual craft in that whole fabrics must be cut up and then put back together in a completely new way. It is unclear how the small pieces will end up looking in their new configuration and sometimes designs have to be reworked. The entire process is one of discovery. Since my son left for college, the black quilt has taken on a life of its own and I tinker with it endlessly. We have moved across country, my son has graduated, moved home and left again, and still the quilt lingers. It has morphed in size and design to something that fits who he is now far better. The pieces have been cut and placed and are ready to be sewn together. Yet it has been so long in the making, I hardly know how to sew up the edges and hand it over.
The fans at the game became steadily drunker, louder, happier, and I thought how dangerous it would be to quilt drunk, how easily I could hurt myself and ruin the quilt. I started to see how draining that intense concentration has been. Perhaps it is time to relax. I am sure my son has no idea how much effort I have put into that quilt. Once it is done, only I will see the missed stitches, and the crooked seams, and they won’t really matter. It will be beautiful. It will be just the way it is supposed to be.
Sitting there in an historic ballpark on a balmy night I wondered, does it really matter who got traded, who retired, who is playing for which team? It is time to sit back and enjoy the game. It is time to finish the quilt.