This afternoon, for the second time in the same number of weeks, I ran into Jane at Target. She was with her teenage daughter and pre-teen son, who immediately scattered to the shampoo and LEGO sections respectively. We grabbed a few minutes to chat while her kids were happily occupied. This is not Jane the animator to whom I gave a pot of mint on March 13, but another incredibly talented English woman who also happens to be called Jane and happens to have worked as an animator. Since I’ve known her, she has been working as an art historian and also as a maker of extremely adorable soft toys called Socklings, which she has written about on her blog (http://janegottshandmade.blogspot.com). I have been unable to resist her Socklings, the cutest little alien-like creatures made from baby socks and have purchased a few from her over the years at school fairs. (It was one of these little creatures that I gave up to my son Theo’s friend Samuel on March 16).
I think it was probably at one of the school fairs where I first got chatting to Jane, and we have had many chats over the years. Although we don’t know each other terribly well, and have probably never had a single long conversation, I don’t think we’ve ever indulged in small talk. Instead, in all our brief exchanges, she’s always had something fascinating to say about art, politics, education or even the business of toy production. Today at Target, in about three minutes, she shared with me some valuable information about the alternative school her daughter is attending, material I am now storing carefully in a mental file labeled “Theo School Options.” She also mentioned that she had started reading my blog and had noticed I’d written about her Socklings. At that moment, I knew I couldn’t let her leave without giving her something. I had in my purse I had a ring made in Africa from recycled telephone wires. I’d bought it at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on a recent visit and had loved the fact that it was recycled and that the its design resembled a beautiful Celtic knot. I gave it to her because I thought she would appreciate the cleverness of the craft, but afterwards I realized that telephone wires can symbolize communication, and the Celtic knot, with no beginning and no end, is said to represent the interconnectedness of life. My encounters with Jane may be short and sweet, but I come away with the warm, reassuring feeling of having connected with a similar soul.