Practice the Space




"I'm ready," she said.

"Good," I said.

"No, I'm really ready."

"All right, go ahead," I said.

"Do you mean that?" she asked.

"No," I said. "I'm not sure," I said. "What are you talking about?" I asked.

"I'm ready to redo my sewing room," she said.

"That's nice, Dear," I said. Twice a year she decides to redo her sewing room. Twice a year she decides she needs another something. "What do you plan to buy that requires you to redo your sewing room?" I asked. She had absolutely no room left in her sewing room. If she brought in a team of experts and they searched for a year, they would find no room in her sewing room. If she had an inch of room anywhere in her sewing room, it would mean she had used up a fat quarter of fabric and she would already have replaced it with two yards of some other fabric she desperately needed to "fill the void."

"Here," she said, and she handed me a brochure that had come in the mail.

The brochure said, "Sale."

"The cutting table," she said as she took my hand and extended my index finger and pushed it toward an ad for a cutting table. She held my finger down until she was sure I saw the ad.

"It's on sale," she said.

"You don't have any room for a thirty-one inch by seventy-one inch cutting table," I said as I read the small print on the ad. I could have said she already had a table in the back of the house that was her cutting table, but then she would show me the copy machine and paper cutter and collator that were now sitting on it because the table where all of them had been was taken over by her new computer and the quilting software she had to have to keep up with the quilters in the world who had discovered quilts in cyberspace.

"That's why I have to redo the sewing room."

"Do you have any idea how to do that?" I asked.

"You have to move the guest bed," she said.

"Oh, sure," I said.

The guest bed had been in her sewing room forever. Though for a guest to use it he or she would have had to remove either a stack or two of stash, six or seven quilts in progress, or a dozen catalogs and quilting magazines strewn across the top of the bed. Only the bravest of guests would dare that. We had talked before about removing the bed, but there was nowhere in the house that even the word "bed" on a piece of paper would fit.

"It can go in your office," she said as if she knew exactly what my next question would be. She has quilter's smarts for reading my doubting Thomas mind.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ha, ho, ha, ha, ha!" I said.

"I figured it out," she said.

"You figured it out?" I asked, but the question was just a reflex of a brain that was addled from two and a half years of watching her figure out quilting. I still haven't figured out quilting, let alone quilters.

"You can put one bookcase in the closet where my old clothes are hanging, give one bookcase to Goodwill, put the filing cabinet in the closet where your old clothes are, and then there will be room to move the bed in. And when you get tired of writing stories about me, you can take a nap right next to your computer."

"I might need those old clothes," was the only thing that came to mind that I could actually say as I caught my astonished breath.

"You outgrew them ten years ago," she said.

I knew what she was getting at. "I can always lose fifteen pounds," I said.

"Ha!" she said. One "Ha" was all she needed.

"You're sure about all this?" I asked. If my mind had been in better working order, if I had two years to think about a logical response, I would have asked something different, but it wouldn't have made any difference.

"I already ordered the table," she said.

"You already ordered the table?" It was a very silly question to ask. I didn't wait for an answer. I already had a answer.

"It will be here in two to four weeks," she said, those words preventing me from ever mentioning the possibility of her changing her mind and taking up stamp collecting or some other small-space hobby.

"So we have two to four weeks to try to work everything out," I said. It wasn't a question, of course, it was a hope, a prayer to someone in the quilting world for help.

"Now would be fine," she said. "I'll take the clothes out of the closets today and put them in the garage."

"Now? But you said...."

"I need to practice the space," she said.

"Practice what?" I asked.

"After you take the bed out, I have to rearrange the room to make the right space for the cutting table. I have to think about the layout. It's like making a quilt. I have to have a pattern for the new sewing room. I have to choose the perfect design, the perfect colors, and put everything in order."

"Your sewing room is a quilt?" I asked. As I waited the two or three seconds I would have before she answered, I thought that I was too old and too tired to move a sheet of paper let alone two bookcases, a filing cabinet, and a bed.

"It's not a quilt. It's a sewing room, but I have to have all the moving done right now so I can try out the space for two to four weeks and get used to the working in a different direction."

"Different direction?"

"The new table will face the window to the backyard instead of the wall, so I have to try out the new direction as well as the space."

"And you need time to do all that, and now means now, and if I know what is good for me, I'll begin moving the books out of the bookcases right this minute?"

"After lunch is all right."

Feed the condemned man his last meal. Sure.


Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

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