It's 9:45 p.m. on a Monday night.
It's been a week since I moved to Atlanta.
It has been, shall we say, a week that has ruffled me in multiple ways.
I say ruffled because it brings to mind many very precise ideas for me right now.
As a verb, ruffle means:
1. to destroy the smoothness or evenness of: The wind ruffled the sand.
2. To erect (the feathers), as a bird in anger.
3. To disturb, vex, or irritate.
4. To turn (the pages of a book) rapidly.
5. to pass (cards) through the fingers rapidly in shuffling.
6. To draw up (into a ruffle) by gathering along one edge.
This is a word I was less familiar with, but am now slightly enchanted by. I've already spoken about the pluses of moving.... the hindsight, the slowing of place and space to see visible what was perhaps once camouflaged. There is a thankfulness, an embracing of the unknown.
As with most things, there is another side to this. I would like to tell you I have stayed calm, have fallen right into a rhythm. I would like to say that this has been very easy, that it has been seamless.
But truth be told, I'm uncomfortable. And that is exactly where I should be right now. The first definition of ruffle is perhaps the most accurate. I even like the example. The sand, in all of it's smoothness and beauty, is constantly being moved around by the wind. It is what gives its form a formlessness. I am enthralled by this dance, when I am witness to it.
The second and third definitions are bit more quirky, but I can say that they have been the ones I have experienced most this week. For all of my wants of moving here, and the assuredness of what I was doing, I have been more frustrated with silly things than ever. LIKE ATLANTA TRAFFIC. Any curse words I had in me to describe art and the act of painting have been swallowed by my recent car rides. My feathers were quite ruffled, actually. A Mohawk would be a friendly way of describing the situation.
The fourth definition is one I am not necessarily proud that I do, but one that is inherent to my lack of patience. For all of my present-ness, I have more than once just wished to see the end of the book. Skip all the long paragraphs describing the beauty of the landscapes, the twinkle in their eyes.... did they fall in love OR NOT?? Did she learn her lesson, OR NOT??
The fifth definition is similar to the fourth. In shuffling rapidly, you miss the feel of the cards, how many have gone by, what part of the stack you were paying attention to, maybe even how you were going to scam your opponent.
Are you seeing a pattern here? hmm.
The sixth defintion, perhaps, is my favorite. It is one of poetry, if I may say. "to draw up into a ruffle by gathering along one edge". A ruffle, in tailor/seamstress-speak, is a long line of flat fabric, a cohesive story, if you will. The seamstress folds it, carefully, and pricks her needle through the overlapping parts. In and out the thread and needle go, carefully timed, perfectly placed so that the distances of this trip are all similar and even. When she comes to the end of the long line, she pulls the thread. Slowly, the flat sliver of fabric takes on a three dimensional quality, the folds undulating and repeating as they were fit. She continues to pull, to watch, to gather. At first she is unsure if she has ruined her beautiful ribbon by poking holes and thread throughout its calm texture. She wants to yank, to gather the ribbon into its final form. But she must pull slowly, delicately, carefully. And as the edges begin to make a renewed shape, some of the layers of this ribbon become unseen. They are only perceived, as a graceful and delicate brocade of story line.
This week I was making holes and pushing wire through my story. I was watching myself be gathered, sometimes painfully, by my own hand. Some of the slopes of my ribbon are steep, are disfigured for the time being. But like all that has happened to me before, I continue to gather, continue to pull, continue to try to steady my hand, continue to ruffle.
There is an owl that lives in the tree by my bedroom window. I picture him (or her) to have a ribbon, ever so delicate, tied to his mighty talon.