I started taking this creative writing class every wednesday night. The first homework assignment was to write an essay called "the window." I chose to write about my favorite yarn shop and the feeling of being on the other side of the window:
The door squeals a "hello" as I open it. Berhan, the barista, greets me as well with that ginger ale he knows I'm going to ask for. I take a sip as I hand him a couple of worn bills and feel the carbonation bubbles dance around my mouth before I finally swallow them. I make my way over to a metal table and slated wood chair next to the window. The indirect sunlight streaming in and warming me up as I once again take a swig from the sweet beverage. I peel back layers of clothing, knowing that the sun will keep me warm and unzip my bag.
A shiny silver metal knitting needle with a mass of yarn hanging practically jumps out of my bag. My latest project is a sweater for my brother, and is no piece of cake. The yarn has somehow been forced to cris-cross in unsuspecting ways creating a fabric that makes people ooh and aah over it. A girl with curly black hair comes over and examines it. Her careful hands pick it up and she strokes the top of it as though it were a kitten. "Such a lovely color!" she exclaims and I nod in agreement before pointing out that it was actually my brother who decided on the deep blue. She hands it back and all I can think of is how much I used to love this color before I'd seen it every day for four months. My hands connect with the needles and move the loops of blue closer to the edges of the needles to begin the meditative ritual of knitting. Tugging at the soft yarn, I create a little slack before swinging the yarn over and around the metal and pulling the new loop through the old. The stresses of the day begin to seep out of me as I lose myself to the relaxing rhythm of the motions. Over, under through. Over. Under. Through. Over…under…through.
Leaning back in my chair, my eyes scan the room. The white walls stand out strongly against the lime green painted wooden floor, even while setting off the baskets and baskets of yarn in every color imaginable. I stare at a few balls of yarn, determining the way they feel from the way they look and the memories I have of touching them. Scratchy wool, fuzzy angora, squishable alpaca, soft cotton yarns all stare back at me in an array of colors in all tints and shades. One basket calls out to me - the alpaca silks in lime green, aqua, magenta, mustard yellow, plum, and pumpkin orange - and I decide that once I finish a few more rows I’ll allow myself the luxury of fondling its softness. Twenty voices reach out to my ears pulling me into their conversations on needles, begging for advice on coordinating colors, cooing about babies or pets, rambling on about television shows, mothers and general life crises.
A flash splits the room and twenty faces look around to find out who snapped the photo. Not one of us has a camera out. In the corner of my eye, I see the suspect. On the other side of the window are about five pedestrians. Their brightly colored store bought hats, scarves and mittens make them stand out against the brick of the building across the street. Their eyes alit, their faces scream at the joy of such a novelty place. But they daren’t come in.
The white paint of the window’s wood frames them as a tableau vivant. They openly stare at all of us as though we were an art exhibit or zoo animals. They point. As they gesticulate wildly we can only imagine their voices saying “What an odd place! What is that they’re doing?! They’re all so cute! Do you think we’re allowed to feed them?” My meditative spell is over, I begin to feel apart of a freak show of knitters gathered together. Speedily I knit, as though knitting will ease my rage at them. I think of various ways to counteract their rudeness. I think of reversing the tables, of staring and pointing at them; calling them the most horrible name a New Yorker can be called: TOURIST! I think of taking pictures of them taking pictures of us. I’m not even feeling the yarn as it glides through my fingers. Yanking yarn out of the ball and winding it tighter and quicker around my needles. Under. Over. Through. Under over through. Underoverthrough.
To ease my tension, I put down the sweater and take another sip of ginger ale. I gaze out the window and instead of a cluster of people, I see the grey, gritty sidewalk, an old bike tied to a no parking sign, bushes of the remnants of Christmas tress and normal Saturday pedestrians. Coffee vapors waver over towards my nostrils and I breathe in deeply. It’s over now. I stand up to distance myself from my dissipating rage and plunge my hand into the basket of brightly colored alpaca silk.