When we endured the horrible nightmare of finding our Brooklyn building infested with bed bugs the week we brought Audrey home from the hospital- we left everything we owned- all of our furniture, everything we’d prepared for Audrey’s arrival- behind. But we went back for a couple of weekends to wash all of our clothes in hot water. You did that part- endlessly going back and forth from the laundromat a block away carrying huge bags stuffed with every towel, sheet, blanket, or anything else that could be washed and therefore saved- while I stayed in the apartment throwing photo albums, CD’s, and books into giant ziploc bags or packing dishes after wiping them down with alcohol. In between I was pumping my breasts every couple of hours and because I was nursing Audrey and would get uncomfortably full. I dumped the milk though which seemed like a waste but we’d have a long day/drive back to Jersey and it wasn’t worth the trouble.
What I always remember tenderly is how you let me save some things even though we were throwing out your stuff right and left. And one was a piece of fabric I still have.
When we got married, I took four chairs of my great grandmother’s from my mom’s house to put around our little dining table. They were stained a dark mahogany color with cushions my mother had recovered with black vinyl. I stripped them, sanded them, and painted them- maybe four coats each- and then distressed them a creamy white color. Then you came with me to a fabric store in my parent’s town to find the perfect fabric. It reminded me of the original vertical stripes that I remembered on the chairs when I was a child, and it was one of the most expensive fabrics there- green stripes and floral and gold stripes in between. At home, I cut the fabric to fit and borrowed a staple gun from a friend. Those were our chairs until only a few years later when I decided to redo the seat covers again.
This was in our last apartment in Bay Ridge and I found the “perfect” Japanese flower pattern online. Something about that pattern just made me happy. Little bursts of color- dark blue and bright red on a cream colored cotton-linen. It was one of my “nesting” projects while we were awaiting Audrey in the summer of 2008. I even bought more batting at a fabric store in Chelsea so they’d be more comfortable. And I was pleased with the result.
So, we left the chairs behind- along with my grandmother’s sewing machine, other grandmother’s rocking chair- and everything else we owned.
But then I remember you holding up a leftover scrap – maybe 12″ x 24″ of that fabric asking if you should toss it since you had so many other things to wash, and I just stopped what I was doing and got really sad. We both paused. Then you looked at me and said, “I’ll just wash it.”
I’m not sure why that meant so much to me, maybe because it was a remnant of the home I’d been trying so hard to create. Maybe because it represented beauty and our world seemed so ugly right then. But you recognized it- and you saved it for me.
You did it again later when I came out to my mom’s kitchen and found a metal Pottery-barn-esque star that you and I had bought on a trip to Mystic, Connecticut a few years earlier- leaning against the wall. You’d been going back to the apartment in Brooklyn a few more times to check on things before our final move and you’d brought that back even though I hadn’t asked you. I remember my mom telling me, “Dan thought you might really like to have that star.”
Oh, Dan – thank you for my scrap of fabric and for my star. Thank you for salvaging things from that mess…things that would remind me of beauty and hope and home. I will try to do the same here for you…I will keep trying…