"Get real," she said.
"Are you talking to me?" I asked.
"No," she said.
"I thought you were," I said. I thought she was. She stood in front of the kitchen table. In front of her was a ten inch high stack of quilting magazines. Each magazine was decorated by several small colorful flags. Actually, they were "Post-it" notes, place markers she had put into the magazines to mark the location of a quilting article or pattern she had to get back to when the time came to get back to the magazines. That time, for this pile, was now. I was finishing lunch and she was staring down at the pile of magazines. "Get real," she said to herself again. Then she began pulling the markers out of the magazines. Her hand was a blur of color as each blue, yellow, green, pink, and orange marker came out.
"You'll lose your place," I said. I wiped my mouth with a napkin and watched her.
"I have too many places," she said, as if that explained everything to me. Most of what she did in regard to quilting, whether it be getting ready to quilt, quilting, or cleaning up after quilting, those things could never really be explained to me at all, let alone in one quick statement.
"So, you're removing some of the places?" That seemed obvious. She had the markers in a growing pile by the side of the magazines. Several still stuck to her fingers as she plucked away, making her look like some sea person using semaphore to signal another ship.
"My reach exceeds my grasp," she said.
"This has something to do with motivational skills?" I asked.
"This has to do with unrealistic expectations," she answered.
"High hopes?" I asked.
"I bit off more than I can chew," she said.
"And this all has to do with quilting?"
"It has to do with not quilting," she said. She yanked out three more markers.
"You're really going at it," I said. She didn't reply, too busy, like some crazed dentist, extracting paper teeth from the magazines. In another moment she had removed the colored tabs from every magazine.
"There," she said.
"Finished?" I asked.
"I'm finished with his pile." She nodded several times as she spoke. I watched her free the Post-Its still stuck to her fingers, pick up the others, and put the mess of them into the trash can she had earlier brought to the table. Then she lifted the pile of magazines, took them into the small room off the kitchen where she stored them, and she returned with another pile of magazines. These also were full of Post-it markers, some scraps of newspaper, a torn napkin or two, a piece of folded toilet paper.
"So you have many more to do?" I asked. "Are you sure you want to do this?" She had spent a lot of time going through those magazines and selecting projects and patterns that she planned to get back to.
"I have to get real," she said again. "I have to face up to the fact that I will never, not ever, have enough time to get back to all the quilt designs I want to get back to. I picked too many patterns."
"You picked a peck of patterns," I said.
She glared at me.
"But what about all the "must do's?" I asked. For two and a half years she had made lists, collected patterns, marked up books and magazines to make reminders of those quilts she absolutely had to quilt. "And the "have to's" and the want-to-do's?" I asked.
"I was just kidding myself," she said.
"You weren't serious?" I always thought she was the most serious person in the world when it came to planning new quilts to quilt.
"I was serious. I really thought I would quilt everything in the world. I dreamed of glorius quilt shows where my quilts would hang in row after row, I dreamed of halls and galleries full of my quilts, I dreamed of quilters around the world assembling in huge crowds to visit my museum-sized collection...." she paused and took a breath...."but it was all a fantasy."
"So you're going to settle for less?" I could go along with that. We couldn't afford a hall, let alone a gallery or museum.
"It's tough," she said.
"But you're brave and strong and true, and you're going to bite the bullet, put your back against the wall, stand and fight, walk through a storm, climb every mountain...." I said.
"What in the world are you babbling about?" she asked.
"I'm just getting real about what I can do in the future. I have to cut down on my expectations and settle for what I really can do."
"So you've been too eager about quilting?"
"I'm not too eager about quilting," she corrected. "I'll always be eager. I'm just removing a few ideas I won't ever get around to working on." She had finished removing the markers from the second pile of magazines.
"But you're going to leave a few ideas lying around," I said. I didn't want to see her brain badly bogged down by boredom."
"A few," she said. She picked up the pile of magazines and carried them into the next room and came back with a new pile. But there were no markers in them, no Post-Its, no book marks, no torn pieces of napkins, no ripped pieces of fabric.
"You already do those?" I asked.
"No, these are the new magazines. I have to read them and pick out some new ideas for new quilts." She said it with a straight face, no lack of seriousness in her voice. She meant it. And she had a new package of Post-its in her hand.
"But, but...." I began, but I couldn't go on.
"Get real," she told me. "I'm a quilter."
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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