My mother always said I was born one hundred years too late.
She could be right. I make quilts the same way my grandmother made them a hundred years ago—by hand. I used cloth diapers (albeit with a diaper service) when my daughters were little, and I use cloth napkins every day.
When I buy milk, I choose glass bottles. (I’m not usually allowed to buy milk.) I line-dry my laundry in the sun. I sleep with white cotton sheets—old, soft ones I buy each March at the White Elephant Sale.
And on January 1st of this new year, I found myself making bandages. Even for me, that’s a step backward in time.
One of my old white sheets was worn so smooth, it began to tear in multiple places. I’d turn over and hear a rip where my arm pierced the fabric. An elbow there, and R-I-P! All through the night, I snuggled under my quilts and heard more fabric splitting. A sad end to the softest sheet ever.
So I did what my grandmother did a hundred years ago. I washed and sun-dried the sheet, tore it into strips and wound the strips into long bandage rolls, which I stored in the medicine cupboard. You should always have bandages on hand, right? Especially true in my grandparents’ Idaho farming community comprised of 500 residents. The big city, Idaho Falls, was about an hour away via Model T.
Back then, you had to be self-sufficient, ready for anything. The question is: Why did I feel that same need on January 1, 2017?
The fact is, several disturbing things all sort of came together when the new year dawned and found me winding bandage strips. Mostly, I’m feeling unsettled and—I’ll admit it—a little scared.
I’m scared about the new U.S. president, He Who Shall Remain Nameless, poised to take office in a few weeks. Is he a buffoon or a sociopath? I recently read The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D. The major traits of the sociopath that Stout outlines are: deceitfulness, irritability, aggressiveness, remorselessness. What if He Who Shall Remain Nameless, in a fit of pique, pushes the Button That Should Never Be Pushed?
Another senseless, cowardly, brutal terrorist attack marked the beginning of the year 2017 in Istanbul, killing dozens.
Then, I read on this day that Kim Jung Un plans to tease Trump by testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017 capable of reaching the West Coast (where I live). Speaking of the West Coast, we’re overdue for a great quake à la 1906. That thought alone can keep you up at night.
And I spent a good part of the day reading the brilliant post-apocalyptic novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood in which the lone protagonist Snowman forages for canned goods and hunts for medical supplies in burned out buildings.
You can bet Margaret Atwood’s character would have liked all those clean, soft bandages safely stashed in my cupboard.
I’m thinking there’s a metaphor lurking somewhere in here that compelled my bandage making. Like…I don’t know…I’m feeling wounded? Feeling in need of the childhood protection a band-aid and a kiss-to-make-it-better can provide? And I think this is all symbolic of my desire to fix (translation: bandage) the world ills and the screaming polarities. Oh, if I had my wish, these would be magic bandages!
In future, perhaps post-apocalyptic literature is not my best reading choice to ring in New Year’s Day.
It has now been two days since I wrote the above, and while I can’t say I have returned to my usual sanguine self, I am feeling slightly less hopeless. Who was it said “Time heals all wounds”? My bandage-making frenzy has passed. Perhaps the process itself provided a kind of healing. To you, I send this hope of healing. All you need is a soft old sheet.
How about you? Are you feeling gloomy or hopeful at the beginning of this New Year? Please share with me.