I get to the Panera Bread ten minutes early because, like always, I am a goody two-shoes, a people pleaser, trying not to be late. I order a hot tea and scan the tables, looking for the knitting group I’ve come to find. I need to get out of the house, that’s clear, and so I’m here to see what I see. But, of course, I’m early, so there are no knitting needles flashing. I take a seat and look at my phone.
And then finally a blanket gets pulled out at the table next to mine. I pick up my tea and ask if I can join. Everyone smiles so I sit down. I pull out my yarn and get to work.
And we talk. This is Melody, who works at the front office of a local high school. She just came back from a trip to Germany. We share stories about travel. We smile.
This is Jennifer, who is knitting a beautiful red scarf. Her skin is the color of burnished copper and she has a gap between her two front teeth. She is gorgeous. She makes me want to smile.
This is Daria, who’s working as a contractor at an advertising company. Every year the management team gives the employees reward dollars to share with friends or spend. Daria’s at the end of her contract but they want her to stay. Just before the New Year, her coworkers filled up her account.
This is Olivia and the green sweater she has been knitting for her husband for forever, the careful cables and tiny neat rows. Olivia tells me about the blue velvet dress of her childhood, the way she wore it to climb trees.
This is Dan, cross stitching a portrait of teddy bears. He bought a tree skirt on Ebay to embroider for his next project The pattern was discontinued, but he wanted it so badly. He paid extra and now it’s his.
This is Tanya, sitting at the table with strangers. I don’t watch my hands and I make mistakes. Pull out whole rows to start again. I don’t know that I have found my people, don’t know if I’ll come again next week. But I know that tonight I am happy here. I know that I’m getting something, and I hope I’m giving it back.