I love dating. I really love dating. I love dating so much I want to marry it (well, not really, because I actually want to get married).I love dating so much, I went on (conservatively) seven first dates in the past year. One or two of those turned into actual relationships, the rest were various dinner-and-a-movie scenarios and “so tell me about your childhood” conversations.
Relationships – one-date or one-year or one-lifetime long – are exhausting! Rewarding, yes! Essential, yes! But exhausting. And every so often, the exhaustion (and, admittedly, heartbreak) wins and I convince myself to take a little dating break. During those times, I turn to my greatest companion, my loyal friend and, in fact, the longest, most serious, most fulfilling relationship I’ve had in years: I turn to my knitting.
I can hear you laughing, but I’m sorry, I don’t see why this is strange! In my defense, relationships are a lot like knitting, or any very serious, all-consuming drug habit – I mean hobby. (Rowan wools and rosewood needles happen to be my particular paraphernalia – maybe yours is a string of freshwater pearls, or a new sketchpad, or a cast-iron skillet. I don’t judge your addictions, please don’t judge mine.)
There’s the rush of the new beginning, a flurry of activity and hope and “what-ifs.” You’ve found The Perfect One. THIS time, you’re going to get it right! No more dropped stitches! No more neglected projects! THIS time, you’re focused, and it’s going to be different. YOU’RE going to be different!
You organize yourself. You lay everything out, buy the new needles, talk about it incessantly with your girlfriends (some who couldn’t care less, some who massage every knot as though they were knitting right there with you – bless them!), revel in its bliss and wake up every morning counting down the moments until you can get back to your knitting.
And then, one day, 20 seed-stitch inches of a 60-inch scarf completed, your hands start to get a little cramped. Your neck starts to ache. No big deal, but the novelty is wearing thin and the reality that this lovely scarf will take you six months of your life to complete is setting in. You decide to watch a movie tonight instead of knit. You’ll get to it later. Tomorrow! Then, tomorrow, you notice you’ve done an entire row of purl stitches instead of alternating knit-purl stitches. And man, this yarn is scratchier than I remembered. Didn’t I see this exact same scarf at the Gap for $29.99?
Cue: Needles thrown across the room; relationship thrown out the door.
Because all this work and frustration and messiness just isn’t worth it!
Except it’s SO worth it.
I have to remind myself of that when I’m dating sometimes. After another miscommunication, another fight, another round of hurt feeling
I look at that stupid, imperfect, wrong-color, wrong-yarn, off-gauge scarf and love it anyway. I love it BECAUSE it’s imperfect. I love it because I can point out each mistake, tell you where I was sitting when I started and what I was wearing when I wove in those last strands of yarn.s and disconnectedness, when you don’t feel like talking it out or explaining yourself or reaching out to say “I’m sorry” first – you have to remember, in the end, it’s worth it. It has to be. For the right project – for the right person – the work is worth it. The work is the success story.
I tell you one thing: It would be a whole lot easier to just buy that Gap scarf. Less swearing, less crying, less effort, less time. But let’s be honest (she says as she franticly searches for the thrown needles): less worth it, too.