I am prefacing this post by reiterating that I absolutely love what I do from first perusing the aisles at a yarn shop to ultimately designing and creating a piece. While I enjoy this process, it is at times a solitary one that both allows and demands that I am in my own head in order to bring my concept of an item to fruition. This solitary environment is tempered by the in person events I vend at. From the farmer's markets, street festivals , juried craft fairs and garlic festivals to the holiday craft fairs, I genuinely enjoy interacting with people and listening to their stories because everyone has one!!
When Looming Madness was still in its early days, I was trying to get my footing in regard to which in person events I should sell at. One of the venues I chose was a street festival in NYC. My husband accompanies me to my events in order to help set up my booth and to just generally be an extra set of hands but my kids have only come with us perhaps two or three times in total. That warm early summer day in NYC was one of the rare times my daughters attended.
As I mentioned above, I enjoy meeting and talking with people and that particular day was no different. I talked with one lady who was from Germany and completely surprised and amused her when I was able to speak to her dog in short sentences in German. This ability stems from my parents speaking in Yiddish when they didn't want me to know what they were saying but of course I eventually learned a little. I spoke with others about sleepaway camp, Lincoln Center, raising twins and a myriad of other topics until later in the day when a lady with a troubled expression entered my booth. I said hello and the conversation that ensued has stayed with me to this day.
The lady was looking at the tutu dresses and I of course asked if I could help her. Remember when I mentioned that my daughters were with me that day and that in and of itself was out of the ordinary? Their presence and their story was about to impact this lady's life at the exact moment in time she needed to hear it. As we talked she advised that her daughter had given birth to a premature baby girl a few days prior and that she was taking a short break from visiting at the hospital. I don't know if she sensed some sort of kinship with me or maybe it was just a random occurrence but in that moment I think she just needed to talk to someone, anyone. This woman was overwhelmed and very worried and without a doubt rightfully so. I say this not just as a sympathetic individual but as an empathetic mother of identical twins that were also born prematurely.
We proceeded to talk about some of the complications that can afflict preemies in addition to the obvious low birth weight. She talked about her granddaughter's medical issues and I explained the issues my girls faced when born. There were so many parallels as there often are regarding premature births and the medical problems that birth brings with it. Then there is the emotional toll that can fill you with an overwhelming and unabating sense of fear. This fear is only tempered by a four letter word, (no, not that one, although that one was emphatically stated and yelled probably a bazillion times) and that word is hope. Any shred of hope you can find is as if someone threw you a life preserver; you grab it and hold on!!
I told her that these preemies fight like hell and I know because I witnessed that fighting spirit. I asked my girls to come out front and meet this woman and then I told her that they were both honor roll students, one was on the school tennis team and the other on a mountain bike race team. I think just hearing that and then actually seeing them and knowing that they had been where her granddaughter was at this time reinforced that all important sense of hope!
So after all of the above occurred she once again looked at a pink tutu dress and matching pink booties and wanted to purchase them for her granddaughter. I wrapped them up and handed them to her and her smile was infectious. I wished her well and reminded her once again that preemies may be physically tiny but their innate ability to fight is beyond measure!!
The pink tutu dress drew her into my booth and our stories connected us. I am well aware that tutus and baby booties are viewed by some to be unnecessary and frivolous, although I view them as adorable and whimsical but in that moment they personified hope. I often think about that day, that woman, her daughter and her granddaughter and hope they are well. Moments like that one make me realize that I am lucky to do something that I love, that owning Looming Madness allows me to meet a wide variety of people and that I am privileged to hear their stories.