Once upon a time…
Over the rim of his coffee cup he gazes again towards my feet and says, “I am completely mesmerized by the fabric of your scarf.”
I smile and look down to the pashmina loosely tied as usual thru the handle of my rucksack.
“It has a story.”
“I’m sure it does.”
With ripples of pleasure that deepen my crows feet, I tell it.
For this is what I do. This is what I love to do. I travel and collect stories. And sometimes I collect a physical thing which is like a beacon that points to the story behind it.
A true memento.
The expanse of grey and blue is one of my favorite things.
Weaved with the threads is the story of my trip to Tanjier, Morocco. The place where I have most felt like an outsider. The place where I was able to break through and embrace my own strangeness, no blending here child, and walk along streets taking in sights and smells that hurt with their beautiful pedestrian place.
I know I asked his name but I am embarrassed to say I don’t remember it. I remember his smile. I can clearly recall his tiny little shop, with loom looming large, taking up over half of his space.
For the brief 3 days we visited he beaconed us with his disarming, true smile. Inviting the American girls into his workshop to see his lovely wears. We put him off until the last evening and then finally ducked in to his warren of color.
After winding through a combination of French, Spanish and English he says with evident pride, “here, I show you.” The quadrilingual weaver sits down to his wooden frame and starts sending the shuttle back and forth. We are entranced by the simplicity.
After the demonstration we start touching and pondering. I already new I would be leaving with one of his pieces of art in my hands but haven’t found the right one. Then tucked under reds, purples and golds, I see the grey and blue.
I caress it lightly, feeling the rough nubs and lines of handmade cloth. Seeing the gesture he quickly pulls it out to show me.
“150 Dirham or 15 Euro,” he says.
I know I am supposed to haggle. I know I am supposed to fein disinterest.I also know, if I were to listen to the voices of “ought” and “should” and “responsibility,” I am not “supposed” to be in this little shop around the world living a wild life of adventure free of the bounds of a prescribed path.
“This. One day’s work.”
It is done.
There is no negotiating down from that. I pull my wallet with pleasure and it is all I can do not to double his offer.
I have worn one day’s work on my shoulders, arms, neck, and ruck with immense pride. Even through the warmer months it accompanied me if for no other purpose than to remind how lucky I am. I am thankful to be tied to a man with a sense of place in life with tangible, beautiful results. I am honored with his story and quite functional evidence of love’s labor.
I finish telling my friend of the weaver in Morocco while reaching down unconsciously to stroke the fabric. His eyes sparkle and he shares my smile. We sit in companionable silence, each lost to our own thoughts about work and travel and life and purpose.
This is what I love to do. I find the small moments between, the little tucked away spaces that are somehow the most important, and weave them together into substantive tapestry.
This story is my one day’s work.
Gathering stories is my life’s work.