Friday, September 17, 2010

Heartfelt Handknit Thank Yous

Two weeks ago today, I was frantically mowing through my apartment in Boston, haphazardly throwing belongings into boxes and delivering bags and bags of items to Goodwill. I have valued my time on the East Coast, to be sure, but suddenly, at the start of August, I felt in my bones that this was it. It was time to go home. "Home," meaning the San Francisco Bay Area, which seems to be the place to which I return every time I want to start over, or just need a place to land and rejuvenate before launching off again.

Which is not to say that I don't miss Boston, because I do. I miss wandering over to Christina's and getting a double scoop of ginger ice cream with Taza or Mexican Chocolate, miss the durian shakes in Chinatown and the jazz brunches at Johnny D's where you feel like you're privy to a private viewing of a living room jam session between musicians who have known each other for decades, and I will definitely miss Fall, my favorite season in Boston [not that it has much competition]. But most of all I will miss the people I befriended there. Although I am grateful to the friends I have here in CA who have known me for half my life, I do feel that the people I struggled through grad school with are the ones who best understand the current version of Jessica in a way that nobody else can.

And so, as I frequently do when I want to express my appreciation, I made.

This is my rendition of the Burburry Inspired Cowl. I think I accidentallly flipped the middle cable around, otherwise this would just be the Burburry Inspired Cowl. Made from Cascade 220 Heathered yarn, this is for a professor who alternately pushed and pulled me through some of my harder moments in my program. In a school where teaching often seems like the very lowest priority, she was an excellent teacher and mentor indeed.

And this is Duet, which theoretically can be worn as either a cowl or a hat, though it seems most people on Ravelry just use it as a cowl. This was for Kristy's birthday in August. Oh man. Where do I even begin with Kristy? Let's just say that one night, in a bout of panic and anxiety, I had myself wound up so tightly at 4AM that I juts could not see how I was going to get through the night if I didn't talk to somebody. So I called her. At 4AM. And she listened to me for one ENTIRE hour, and counseled excellent advice, and told me to call her again at 4AM if I needed to in the future. I mean, seriously. The woman deserves five pink cowls. No, she deserves an entire pink handmade wardrobe [not that I haven't tried].

Ha. This is what happens when you finally enroll a photographer, and that photographer just happens to be your dad, with whom you share a running "superhero" inside joke. Anyways. Kristy is one of my closest friends in Boston, but the story of how I first came to work with Maria (the prof for whom I made the green cowl) is Classic Jessica. I first met Maria at a departmental welcome luncheon my first year, where I was full of anxiety over how to present my disparate health interests in a way that sounded impressive, when she turned to me and said, "You know, it's a good thing to keep up a lot of interests in grad school. Don't let people talk you out of them."

Those words stayed with me for a long time, resurfacing each time somebody, indeed, tried to talk me out of my interests. One day during the first semester of my second year, I spotted her at the ATM. "Hm ... YES. I WILL." So I accosted her while she was withdrawing money with a, "you probably don't remember me ..." to which she replied, "you're right, I don't. What's your name again?" And then I proceeded to gush/spout out gratitudes, and after 20 seconds she developed this deer-in-headlights look and mumbled something about having to go.

So I returned to my seat in the cafeteria and decided that maybe ambushing professors at the ATM is not such a good idea, after all.

Later, though, when I opened up my inbox, I found an email from her explaining that she had been late for a meeting, and if I had time to meet, she would love to hear more about these disparate interests. Wow. I have never seen a professor reach out like that in my program. And not only is she really nice, but she also mentors her students, is protective of them, is a really really smart person, excellent researcher and collaborator ... in short, she's got smarts, people skills, and a heart. How often do you get that in academia, especially in a top-ranked Ivy League school? Exactly.

So yes. These are meager thanks indeed to some of the people who helped me through two very rough years. But with the giving season upon us, hopefully more unselfish crafting is about to commence ...


Callipygian said...

I need to start over, or land somewhere to rejuvenate before launching off. I wish I knew where to go. It's great that you know in your bones that the Bay Area is home for you.

Zonnah said...

You are a sweet heart and they are going to love it!

jessica said...

Callipygian ~ well, the Bay Area occurred somewhat by default, as I lived there for 20+ years! But it's true we're lucky to know where "home" is. I really hope you find your place to rejuvenate and start over ... sometimes, I've found that the answer is already in our heart, whispering to you where it is that you need to go to start over. Have faith that you will get there!

Sydney at PetiteGorgeous said...

Those look so comfortable!