Knitting the Divine

I’m listening to Hrishikesh Hirway’s podcast Song Exploder. The song “Bike Dream” by Rostam is on; he dissects each part of the song as he writes it. It’s oddly moving. In it, Rostam describes an idyllic relationship; he doesn’t say so explicitly in the song, but he volunteers in this telling that he is gay.

I start thinking on sexuality, a familiar, intimate topic in any event, and one I revisit often. These days, it is closer to me than usual—since the stroke, and since menopause. I’m finally coming out of both of them, hampered in the first case with vertigo, and in the second with an aversion to sex. While I'm still dealing with the vertigo, I’m discovering my sexuality is reawakening post-menopause. And it’s a relief, this rediscovery of my body.

Why this body, though? Ah. Why.

I have learned many things, surviving a stroke. One is the realization, fully, that we are temporary. We do not continue when we die, at least, not as ourselves. We are a part of something greater, far greater, than we are, and when we die, we rejoin that…being, for lack of a better term. I call it the Divine.

Parts of us might remain with the Divine. Parts might become a star, a rock, a planet, an amoeba, a cat, a human. Occasionally, most or all of us might become one thing. We might even remember having been what we have been before—probably not.

[Now, your mileage may vary; you might believe something different. That’s fine. This is what I believe, and I believe it to be true, as far as it goes. You might be right. I’ll never know, at least not as me.]

Initially, and still sometimes, knowing this made me despair. What am I to do with myself?

I am slowly, slllowwwllly, retraining myself to write again. Some of you kind souls have told me I’ve gotten the hang of it. Who knows? I wonder if I’ve ever really been able to get my thoughts down. Nevertheless, I’m trying. I’m not going to attempt fiction until I’ve gotten this memoir of sorts, this recounting what has happened to me, down. It ain’t comin’ until then, anyway. And right now, neither is the memoir. I find myself with nothing to do—nothing but knit.

Knitting is something I’ve always done. Always, since age seven. That's 49 years ago. It’s how I know I’m feeling right. I’m interested in yarn, in patterns, in others’ work. I’m filled with pondering: how would this pattern look on me; who would look best in that pattern; what stitch should I use with this cool yarn. (And it’s more than knitting; throw crochet under that moniker. I just don’t do it as much.)

After the stroke, I couldn’t use my right hand. The fingers worked, and I could always feel, but fine motor skills were gone. I still can’t handwrite that well, and it’s been more than two and a half years.

In rehab, when memory returned, friends handed me a pair of needles and some yarn. “Do it,” they ordered.

I furrowed my brow, and willed my hands to move. They couldn’t. “That’s as good as it gets,” I said, and gave the needles back with my working left hand.

The needles found their way to me again and again. Each time, I progressed a little more. I managed—I say “managed,” and it was a real struggle—I managed to get the righthand needle into a stitch. I managed to wrap the yarn around the needle. I managed to pull the yarn through. And eventually, I managed to get the righthand needle into a stitch, wrap the yarn around it, pull it through…and pull the completed stitch off the needle.

It took a while, like, at least ten minutes, to do that time. All my concentration and effort went into it; sweat stood out on my forehead, and pooled under my blanketed knees. But I did it. By god, I did it. I was elated! I did it twice more, and handed the work back. I was done for the day; I lay back in the rehab center bed, exhausted and so happy I nearly floated.

Since then, knitting and crochet have been a major part of my recovery. I’ve made simple scarves. I finished an afghan for our brother-from-another-mother Austin. I crocheted a granny square afghan out of the endless unmatched balls of yarn I’ve been given. And I attempted—and failed spectacularly—knitting a shawlette out of a single ball of stunning, soft, impossible-to-rip-back wool and angora yarn; suffice it to say, I learned the new necessity of stitch markers. I’ve since started, restarted, and re-restarted, another shawl (huge and since finished) and the cardigan I’m currently working on.

The part about where we’re going: I’m getting to that. Kind of. You see, I don’t know.

We are all going to wherever it is together, that I do know. We are going to rejoin the Divine. I will rejoin my loved ones, even the ones I’ve never met—the grandmothers I never knew, the grandchildren who might yet come, will all be part of the Greater Memory, as will I. I will cease to exist as me. This thought frightens me at the same time it comforts me. It’s inevitable. I’ll adjust because I have to, even if I don’t want to.

The problem for now is, what do I do with myself?

Before, I was a Writer. That’s what I did. I found solace in it. It meant a little of me would be left behind, though in a small way.

I’m still a writer, but a little “w” now. I’m not writing for anyone but me, really. (Yes, yes, you’re reading, and bless you for doing so.) But now… Am I still a Writer? I don’t feel like one.

This morning, as I was knitting and listening to Rostam’s “Bike Dream,” it dawned on me: I was knitting. The cardigan whose pattern I could describe in detail right this minute was taking shape in my hands. This top-down raglan cardi had already been completely ripped out and restarted; I had missed a large, vital section of increases. Just today I’d finally reached where I was when I discovered the mistake more than a week ago.

I’m not an expert, I know that; I’ll never be. I yam what I yam. But not knitting is not living right now.

So right now, I am a Knitter. Big “k.”

I am a Knitter, and a writer. That must suffice for now.