Threads

threads November 2007 I never intended to collect colours on my arm.

Mongolia and a friend in England started the process. The craftsmen of Argentina ensure that it continues.  Time changes the colours. I ensure that they always make a rainbow.

Often as I walk into a tango embrace, and go to place my left arm around the body of my partner, I shake out my colours from my sleeve. In that moment I remember who I am, where I have travelled, and the friends who walk with me. I stand a little taller. I feel more grounded on my 4 inch heels. These comfortable colours can give me confidence and remind me that I am loved.

The turquoise stones began it all. I bought them for myself in a Mongolian ‘ger’ towards the end of my ‘Gobi desert adventure’. I’d just managed to speak to my sister in England from my cell phone as we had arrived in a camp with a signal (a rarity), and had cried a few tears. She had calmed me. The turquoise reminds me of my wet eyes and of the rush of the river that passed through our camp, but the cool touch of the stones carry the power of tranquility to this day.

Months later as I was about to fly to Argentina, a dear friend in England tied a thin string band of friendship around my wrist, and I tied an identical one around hers. We did this in the crush of a café in Marks and Spencer, Winchester. I remember the chatter of her little children, the racks of underwear surrounding us, the clatter of oversized cappuccino cups, trying to remember all the things we wanted to say before, ‘goodbye’. Today, black has turned to grey, orange to burnt dust, and I think the string may fray off my wrist at any moment, but it hasn’t yet. I believe this means that I still need my friend with me. Ten years ago she and I taught in a school in England together. In a difficult time of feeling stuck, we discovered and read the Susan Jeffers book, Feel the Fear and do it Anyway. I am now here, and my friend is a tri-athlete with four beautiful daughters. Seeing her thread on my wrist inspires me and reminds me that I can handle anything and I can create the life I want.

When I arrived in Argentina I began to discover the wonderful markets in Buenos Aires, and the pavement stalls that are everywhere: I was drawn to the coloured threads. For $2 or $3 pesos I could buy a memento of my day out, my trip away, a friend, Carlos. Sometimes I chose a design that brought the moment back: a bright yellow beaded flower to shine the sun of Tigre into cloudy days, traditional wooden to keep the street dancers of Feria de Mataderos with me. In other places I just picked the colour that shouted loudest. Some memories are hazy, but I know that in the mix on my arm are Avenida Cordoba where I used to get off the bus from my tango classes, Plaza Francia, San Telmo on a Sunday.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, just would not stay on my wrist: every time I tied it, it untied itself so I let it go… it and a few others along the way.

The latest band I added a week ago from a pavement in Juramento, Belgrano. My friend Jessica bought it for me. I chose it for her: shocking pink, orange, and violet, boldly and beautifully woven to remind me of her courage and laughter. She left Buenos Aires last night, but she stays on my wrist, bold and bright amongst the more faded shades.

IMGP0241 This weekend me and Carlos walked in the sun to Plaza Serrano, Palermo Soho. We ambled around the stalls there and I said to him, ‘I want to learn how to make those bands.’ The idea popped up unexpectedly, but it felt right. I said to myself, ‘Sal, that thought is a dream seed. Hold on to it and do something with it.’ Carlos started asking the stall holders about where I could learn, and I know that I will find the right place or the right person, if it is meant to be.

The stalls of these macrame artesans are mesmerising. The hundreds of coloured threads attract me. The craftsmen have my respect for their intricate work. My eyes scan the designs and eventually settle on the one I desire. Sometimes I let Carlos choose for me, sometimes I decide. Lately I have been noticing exquisite necklaces for $40 pesos with polished stones shown off by the woven threads, and wider bracelets with more complex weaves. They are beautiful, but I always seems to go back to the thinner inexpensive bands with their childish beads and bright colours: smiling, honest and strong.

And so I carry a rainbow on my arm. Parts of it get tatty and fall. Other parts sit comfortably and stay. It gets refreshed often with the new and the vivid. As some colours fade and disappear, others shine in their place.

threads August 2008 In Buenos Aires most of my friends come and go. It is a way of life for me now. But every person who is lent to me for a while, every experience we have together, every place we walk… these are the threads of my life. The colours brighten then weaken, knots get tied tight then loosen, the weave changes. But there is always beauty. And there will always be a rainbow, as long as I keep building it.

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5 Responses

  1. I love that turquoise the best. 🙂

  2. Tina,
    I guess that one is in a slightly different league to the rest! And that photo was taken in November, so the others have changed a bit now. I know that some of them do look rather like grubby bits of string, but I still love them all…

    See you soon I hope, hugs SC

  3. And I decided to add a second picture of the threads, as they are today in August 2008.

    SC

  4. The bracelet you gave me when I left Bs As just fell off, less than 2 weeks ago. It stayed on for an entire year! Symbolic timing, as I now have my ticket to return!

  5. Gabriella

    What can I say except ‘Bloody hell!’
    I am sure that bracelet falling off was saying, ‘Get back over there and get a new one!’

    You know that me and C. absolutely cannot wait to see you again. There were tears when you left, and I expect there will be a few when you arrive, but this time of joy!

    Hasta muy pronto, chica linda.

    SC

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