September 19, 2015

It’s amazing the connections you can find with people once you start an open, honest conversation. Our son Theo has started playing soccer on Saturdays, and though I love the fact that he is out running around learning a sport with a team of kids, I don’t always enjoy sitting in the heat of the afternoon inhaling Astroturf fumes while the kids do their warm ups. This was what I was thinking today when one of his teammate’s mother, Krissy greeted me with a big smile. I was feeling cranky about the heat and wasn’t able to hide it when she asked how I was doing. We started talking about how every year the heat in September takes us by surprise and then we fell into a conversation about living in cooler climes. When I told her I’d been brought up in Scotland and then Canada so was used to the cold, she sympathized with my low heat tolerance, but it was when I told her I’d also lived in Japan that we really connected.

Krissy had lived there too, in Tokyo. She had some fascinating experiences there teaching English, as had I. When I told her that I had gone into a career in Japanese art, she revealed to me how impressed she’d been by Japanese textiles and the details of samurai armor. She has a background in fashion and she particularly loves textiles. When I asked her if she liked Japanese cotton country textiles, she told me that she loved boro textiles, the worn-out indigo-dyed cotton garments that have been stitched and patched together lovingly over the years. I was amazed that she knew about these, as few people outside the world of Japanese textiles have paid much attention to them. I had proposed an exhibition of these garments a few years back because I am so enamored of them, but it hadn’t worked out.

When the game started, our conversation wound down as we turned to focus our attention on our boys, yelling words or support and encouragement as they struggled to play in the ridiculous heat. When the game ended, I realized I had a pair of Japanese boro pants that I had bought thinking I might wear them at the opening of an “arts of the ninja” exhibition that I’d been dreaming of curating a few years back. The exhibition idea hadn’t panned out (I’ve had a few ideas that haven’t materialized!), but I still had the pants. I pulled them out of my little bag of textiles and drove over to Krissy’s house. I left them for her in a bag with a note, my little thank you for the lovely conversation about other lives and climes that had made me forget my crankiness in the heat and fumes of the soccer field this afternoon.

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