This was a stitched together quilt of writing - what started as a five minute brain dump became an engorged writing water balloon, stretched and not quite thrown.
If this was being published in a different context, I would edit it. Instead, I am leaving as is. Just right. Exactly as it ought to be for now, for you, for us today.
My breakthrough is built with a needle and thread, moved quickly and making that lullaby sound I heard consistently as a child. The sewing machine was a mystical thing because when I was awake, it was put away. I didn’t see it at work, just sitting waiting patiently in its case to use it again.
Sometimes when I waited for sleep to come upon me and close my eyes, I would gaze with fear at the crystal doorknob on my bedroom door that sat right at my eye level. I was convinced there were bad spirits living in there, ready to pounce when the lights went off.
Sometimes I could hear the sewing machine whirring, but it was always back in its box and put away when I woke up.
My mother never left her things out like I do.
I could have learned that skill from her, to neatly stow my materials and make way for a more conventional busy day. I didn't.
As a child, I would go to sleep with fabric attached to tissue paper puzzle pieces and wake up with a nearly finished dress hanging by the door frame, waiting for me to try on.
I remember one bad sewing memory. Amazing it is only one. My mother decided to surprise me with my church confirmation dress but I ‘abhorred the fabric and I really detested the pattern: it was either Simplicity or McCall's “Pounds Thinner Pattern” that looked so dowdy and matronly, not like an ugly and awkward fifteen-year-old but an ugly-and-awkward woman more like my current age.
I opened the door to what we called the TV room and found my mother, fabric and tissue paper pinned and half way cut out. “Julie," she said, frustration filling the air between us, "you ruined the surprise.”
I don't remember sitting down at all, I just remember getting up and leaving, so upset that I would have to wear that ugly thing in front of the entire church. I would have to serve communion in that ugly thing. It would be the last time some of these people ever saw me because we moved to California that summer.
I don’t know if the dress came with us on our move. I just know it was possibly the only piece of clothing I have ever worn that I only wore once (aside from my wedding dress I suppose.)
That doesn’t feel like a breakthrough. I think I need to wait for the lesson my intuition tells me.
It would be several more years before I told my Mom I didn/t want to birthday gift she sent me to college because it is something she or Sue would wear, not me. “I’ll just return it,” I said. Flatly, with no emotion. Or when I cataloged the years Sue got something for Christmas and a full year later, in January, I would get a near duplicate.
“Haven’t you noticed, Mom, Sue and I have completely different taste?” We still do, in most everything.
But that isn’t the breakthrough.
Earlier this Fall I cried when I referred to Glen Ridge as home: me who has declared herself without a home town. “Still seeking my town.” I tell people who ask. Not Dana Point, not Glen Ridge, certainly not Bakersfield where I’ve lived the longest.
That is not the breaking through, either.
My breakthrough is made up of disjointed moments in time.
I wait for it to shout itself clear.
My breakthrough is a poem, not yet written.
My breakthrough is a conversation remembered, an honest confession between beloveds. Salt stuck under my eyelids, pink fluffy socks never keeping my feet quite warm enough.
Missed deadlines, unreturned phone calls, worry about getting someone in trouble who claims to have called me back who didn’t. Why do I worry about her being in trouble when lying about calling me is wrong, especially in this circumstance.
“And I can prove it!” I told the other woman vindictively and immediately feeling remorse for this Diana I have never met nor spoken to who may get in trouble for not making the uncomfortable phone call back to me.
“I just want to make sure this won’t happen to any other people,” I tell the other her.
A day passes. Another conversation. Realization having a constructive conversation does not subtract what happened. The reality is still the reality. The humans underscoring that reality are still... that reality.
My breakthrough may be seen in retrospect in the distance, as I turn one calendar page to the next. I hear Emma behind me, eating a chocolate chip muffin. Coffee is brewing. I am at the keyboard, feeling a familiar brand of contentment.
This is the breakthrough right now. I will review these notes later, because I know there is more there in the sewing machine, in the "ruined surprise" and the dress worn only once.
I smile at my mouse pad, a slightly sunburned Samuel smiling up at me, and my desk-card table picked up at a thrift story I keep meaning to paint and haven't quite gotten to (yet).
The paint is the next breakthrough. The coffee and a chocolate chip muffin is my now breakthrough.
(You and I will talk again soon.)
Julie Jordan Scott
is the founder and creator of 5For5BrainDump. She has been inspiring artistic rebirth since 1999.