i arrived in the parking lot to find aimee waiting to assume her duties for the day. that eased my mind considerably .after just a few minutes of discussing cash register logistics, our first customer arrived. i made a few introductions and then stepped upstairs to the office. when i returned to the store, aimee was already handling things like a pro. i never doubted that. soon i said goodbye and jumped in my car. not too far down the highway, i found myself settling into a peaceful place.
not even a stand still traffic snarl peaked my anxiety. i put in a favorite cd and cranked the volume louder than usual. as i continued to drive i felt more and more relaxed. i haven't driven this highway for several months. before the store, i was heading to columbus every chance i could get. owning a retail shop changes things. at least for me it did. the weather was perfect, so i opened the moon roof. the warmth of the golden sun felt exhilarating.
before i knew it, i had arrived in franklin county. early. very early. i had wanted to stop at a fabric store that i had been hearing about. now i had plenty of time. the instant i walked into sew to speak, i was not disappointed. so cute. a vibrant funky kind of store. a woman immediately came over and commented on the bag i was carrying. that made me feel good and confirmed it is the small details that can make a difference. her name is anita, turns out she owns the store. we chatted for a short time. i shared that today was my first day away from jellen's and i was a little nervous about that. she totally understood. i purchased some fun fabrics from japan, purple of course, and a few leather purse handles.
next i drove a bit further down high street to the glass thimble. i've been shopping at this store since i first arrived in columbus for graduate school back in september of 1981. the store has not changed really. as i walked around, a flood of memories came back. i recalled the fabrics i had purchased to complete a quilt for my parents twenty-fifth anniversary, some blue calico for a neighbor's first baby, and many yards of the brightest fabrics i could find to take with me to choices, the shelter for battered women where i worked as the house manager during the midnight to eight am shift.
i looked at the clock and realized i had time. time. time to retrace my footprints. i drove to my old house. it looked the same mostly. i drove through the bumpy alley as i had done so many nights long ago. i kept driving until i had reached my destination. i pulled into a parking space noticing the signs of springtime all around. buds just about to open in the flower beds. i recalled the night those same beds were swarmed with members of the columbus swat team. i had been alerted by the police in cincinnati that an abuser had stolen a truck and they believed he was heading for the shelter. and he could be armed.
i had quickly gathered all the woman and children and had ushered them safely to the basement. a few had grabbed their quilting project from a class i had held the previous afternoon before leaving their rooms. there in the dim and musty cellar of this home, turned safe place, we stitched together. sharing the fright of the situation. i remember sitting on a small step cradling the woman who was being stalked. as i vividly recalled that evening, i suddenly felt ashamed. how could i have been so afraid? anxiety should not come from leaving a quilt store in the hands of someone else. anxiety is the fear these women knew. fear so great they had no choice but to flee their home for safety.
i turned to look toward a window on the side of the building. it was in that room that we gathered every week. there were always a few new women each time, as this was a short term shelter. i recalled the evening i persuaded debbie to join us. her arm was so badly wounded from being attacked by a pit bull while she was tied to a tree by her abuser. she initially did not want to come, afraid that she would not be able to sew one handed. we sat side by side, she pushed the needle down through the fabric and i would reach under to push it back up. together, we worked to complete her first quilt block.
i needed to go if i was to make my meeting on time. as i got closer to the ohio state university campus, more and more students were walking about. i wonder how many of them will have the opportunities that i have. the chance to make a difference. the opportunity to realize what is truly important in life. as i walked out of the parking garage and first glanced at stillman hall...
i felt at complete ease. i felt free from any anxiety. i felt euphoric really. how blessed i am, i thought to myself. then i stepped off the elevator and was greeted with congratulatory praise from other members of this committee i sit on. i wondered how they knew what i had just experienced. how could they know. as soon as i opened the meeting folder i saw...