I stood at the loom, the warp in hand, yards of shimmering silk dyed in the colors of sunset on the waters flowing through my fingers. I was baffled. I couldn't remember which warp should be tied onto which back beam, and which back beam came first. I studied the back beam. It was awfully thick. I knew that I was supposed to tie the warp to a thinner rod. I wasn't sure where it was, what it looked like, how it connected to the back beam. I had trouble tying the knots. Was it a lark's head knot I needed? What was a lark's head? I couldn't remember how to set up the pathways for the warp threads. Which slot came first? Which of the choices was I supposed to make? What did my notes mean? I fumbled around trying one thing, then another, until my hands took over, showing me the way. Every step of the preparation for weaving was daunting to me-measuring the yarn for the warp and weft, readying the yarn for dyeing, dyeing the yarn, measuring the warp, and warping the loom. So many deficits; so many losses to overcome.
Although I needed to rest for a day or more after each step, I managed to complete every phase in the process with little to no difficulty. I remembered how to compute the amount of yarn I needed, but then had to rest for a day. I prepared the yarn for dyeing without trouble, though I did suffer a severe case of vertigo and loss of balance after the fact. The dyeing process went smoothly, except that I needed to rest for three days before I moved on to the next step-warping the loom.
I knew that of all the stages in the preparation for weaving, this would be the most challenging, bot physically and cognitively.
Prior to the surgeries, I'd never made more than a handful of mistakes when warping the loom. Now, the errors were everywhere.
Whenever a problem arose, whenever I couldn't remember how to accomplish a particular step, whenever I made a mistake, I would climb into bed, hide under the covers, and soak the pillow with my tears. Once I cried myself dry, I got up, splashed cold water on my face, went back to the loom, worked things out, and continued warping.
I felt euphoric when I finally finished warping the loom. I had a silly grin on my face that lasted several days.
Unfortunately, in the push to finish warping, I had overdone it. As eager as I was to sit at that loom and start weaving, I had no choice but to take a break for a couple of days.
Finally, I felt better, and it was time to weave.
I sat at my loom gazing at the warp stretched out in front of me. This was it: the fulfillment of all my dreams, the culmination of all that work. I looked forward to the hours of meditative weaving ahead of me.
My hands were shaking when I picked up the shuttle holding the weft thread. I took a deep breath, eased the tension in my shoulders, relaxed my arms, and flicked my wrist, sending the shuttle flying across the warp, leaving a trail of yarn behind it. As soon as the shuttle left my hand I relaxed: my heartbeat returned to normal, my breathing slowed down, and the tension in my muscles melted away.
I sighed and settled into the job ahead, watching the emerging pattern, dreaming about the finished piece, about the end to the nightmare, about recovery.
After I wove a few inches, I studied the result, and...something wasn't quite right. I sat there a few minutes puzzling over this feeling of disquiet. I gazed at the warp, contemplating the strip I had already woven, pondering the issue.
I sat there a few minutes, frowning, my lips pursed, my gaze alternating between the part I had woven and the virgin warp.
I tried to ignore that niggling little voice in my mind, but it would not be silenced: I did not like the warp. I did not like the way its colors interacted with the weft. I was not satisfied with the width of the strips of the blues-they were not wide enough, they were overshadowed by the oranges and the white.
I tried to shrug it off: it wasn't really a big deal, it actually looked pretty good. In fact, it looked very good. But...I didn't want very good. I wanted, I needed, spectacular.
There was too much at stake here. This was no mere project; this was about my life, this was about becoming a whole person. This piece had to be done right, and I had to know that I could do it right, from start to finish.
Should I keep going or should I... start afresh? I had a great deal of trouble verbalizing the latter possibility, and I shied away from that thought whenever it tried to wriggle its way into my consciousness. But it wouldn't go away, and after a couple of days I accepted the inevitable.
I decided to start from scratch. Once I made the decision, I knew it was the right one.
Filled with conviction, I fetched the scissors.
When I held them at the ready, about to cut a warp bundle off the loom, I paused, gulped, took a deep breath, positioned the scissors carefully, closed my eyes, and... snipped. Every time I closed those blades I gulped, but once I'd cut through every single warp thread, I felt relief.