Made With Care

I have a new hat. It’s mine. And I love it.

IMG_0823A new friend made it for me, with her own two hands and a couple of knitting needles. When I say ‘new friend’ I mean that she and I recently met at a dinner party where, in the midst of our conversation she put her hand on my arm and said “Do you want to be best friends?!” and I said “Yes!” By the end of the evening we’d exchanged phone numbers – real phone numbers, not just placating Google phone numbers, discussed the colors we wear most, and she’d promised to knit me a hat.

This dinner party had begun as a Bordeaux wine tasting, and I’d shown up knowing all of two other people in attendance, one of which was my date. I thought perhaps it was the twelve wines we’d tasted through before dinner which prompted her promise, but I still woke up the next morning with a hesitant, hopeful little smile.

I’ve often admired the fact that it’s so beautifully easy for children to make friends – it’s as simple as being near each other on the playground, asking the other if they want to be your friend and, assuming the other kid says yes, beginning to play together. I’ve always wished it was this easy for adults, as most of my friendships were made in my childhood and adolescence. I believe the only reason I’ve made any lasting friends as a grown woman is sheer luck and the magical force of those who have befriended me and are clearly much better at adulting than I am.

Because I am somewhat of a closet pessimist struggling to be an optimist, I thought about the previous evening and decided that, even if our status as ‘Best Friends’ didn’t stick, I was immensely grateful to this near-stranger for making the adult version of my playground friend-making fantasy come true. Then I thought about the hat.

As a kid, any time I asked for a pretty sweater/scarf/hat/pair of gloves, my mom would say “oh, that’s so expensive, I’ll just make one for you.” I assumed she meant on the ‘knitting machine’ she ‘had upstairs in the attic’ and ‘would pull down’ in order to ‘make’ said item. I grew up in the bitter cold reaches of Michigan and my mom once owned a knitting shop, so it would make sense to believe that she would create any variety of cozy knitted items for her always-chilly daughter.

This never happened. Any dream of anything knitted by my mother went the way of the plastic grid dollhouse she started for me when I was a young girl. Every once in a while I would ask about it – nearly beyond myself with giddy anticipation to play with it – and every third time or so she would pull it out to show me the progress she’d made. I now realize this basically meant she just turned it in a different direction so I wouldn’t notice that she hadn’t touched it since the last time I’d asked. This went on for years, until I got too old for dollhouses, gave up, and eventually forgot about it. (Until today. My therapist can expect a call later….)

It was so close to being mine... *sigh*
This is what it looked like, in my head.

So, I sort of expected the hat might not actually happen. Hand-knitting things takes time, especially if you have a full-time job (which my new friend does), and partner (also this), and a life (check).  I made a point of texting her and not at all mentioning the hat, so she didn’t think I was just interested in what she could give me. There’s a lot more to think about when making friends as a grown-up, I’ve realized. Maybe this is why we adults often don’t bother – too much work and we’re busy anyway? Or maybe just emotionally lazy?

Then one evening a text came through, and this is what it said:

And in that moment I realized that it’s okay to believe it when someone says they’re going to do a really nice thing for you, just because. To not make excuses for why they might not, without even giving them a chance to follow through. To maybe let go of super-old, deeply-rooted assumptions based on kid-Amanda’s disappointments.

And most of all, to stop saying I don’t look good in hats.

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