Surrogate Sisters

What an unusual and wonderful few days I’ve had – totally unexpected, lovely and full of love.

I’d been sort of pining for some female companionship – missing my friends back in NJ, missing just shooting the sh*t with some buddies while knitting (not being ‘the teacher’) and just needing a woman’s touch in my life.

I called my cousin Jan last week, just needing to chat while I was in Wisconsin, but didn’t get her in and left a message. Life has been so busy, time has been so short, and reaching out to the new, nice friends I’d made in St. Paul was difficult with the last few weeks of travel.

I hadn’t been dwelling on it – but it was nagging in the back of my mind that I’d just like to sit and chat with some women friends. Odd how we need that so much. I can only imagine how much Gerry must be longing for some male companionship.

So imagine my surprise when – after arriving in Cleveland, hurrying to the hotel, checking in and rushing over to the IX center, I turned around in my class to see my cousin Jan and her friend, Theresa. SHOCK!

Well, needless to say I bawled like a baby. Grandma always said about us that we could cry easier than we could piss. Well, she did.

The class was great, it was full (36!) and the fact that my cousin – not really a knitter – drove so far to see me was an exceptional gift. It’s funny how much it means to me when folks involved in my life in a non-knitting way cross over to the dark side and attend one of my classes or lectures. I felt the same way when Gerry’s friend Mike came to my lecture in Rochester, NY. Join us…

Lily Chin dropped in at the end of the class and we finally got to say more to each other than just “Hi!” – we met up with Shannon Okey in the hallway, Heidi and Shannon’s assistant Melissa (who is also Heidi’s daughter) and had a brief but pleasant little chat. I could feel the chill around my soul beginning to melt as I spent time with women friends. Jan and Theresa & I had an early dinner and turned in early (all of us had been up since 5:00 am.) I usually am terribly boring at these events; I teach, I eat dinner, I crash. It felt good – but tiring – to be able to catch up with my cousin/sister over dinner – what a treat!

Friday was filled with presentations, classes and a whirlwind tour of parts of Cleveland and a delicious lunch with Shannon Okey – I just love her! She’s got such a kind soul, and I feel we share a similar energy. It was also great to have a chance to compare notes with such an excellent knit design / marketing mind and bounce some ideas off of each other. That’s worth more than I can say. I feel as though I work in a vacuum, touching base with others who share my lifestyle helps me keep a little perspective. And I had the additional treat of meeting her mom, her cats and her sweet little doggie.

Both J&T were going to be in my cabling class Friday evening, but we all knew it would be WAAAY over their heads. I hated the idea that they’d feel out of place, but a solution presented itself; Shannon was teaching a felting class at the same time as my class, both Jan & Theresa had mentioned how much they’d like to learn to felt, so we switched them to her class (and Shannon may never forgive me!)

After the classes J&T and I gave Lily a ride back to the hotel. We, uh, got lost. It was my fault, and no more needs to be said about it.

We saw a lot of signs warning about horse & deer crossings, we drove down a road called “No Bottom” and learned all about Lily’s German ipod. It was amazingly silly and funny, (and Lily will never forgive me…)

The four of us had dinner, giggling and laughing and acting like fools. I’m the youngest in my generation of my family, and before Max & Hannah were born, we didn’t have any kids in the next generation. That’s a LOT of time for me to spend as the youngest. Usually being the youngest means being the butt of most family jokes, and my family was no exception. But now it’s just Jan and me, and we miss the group bantering dynamic. But it felt good on Friday night to be sitting in a Lone Star Steakhouse with a table of women who found my lack of direction highly amusing. I think I needed this!

Saturday – today – I taught classes for the North Coast Knitters Guild, and I worked them HARD! They were a wonderful bunch, and were very kind to put up with my third-day-of-classes fogginess. The were also an exceptional bunch, grasping quite a bit, and really STRETCHING to figure out more!

Book signing at lunch, then more classes, then dinner with Shannon, Heather, Lily and – surprise! – Stephanie Pearl McPhee! She was in town for a reading and Shannon picked her up to join us. We laughed and laughed and laughed all through dinner at the Great Lakes Brewery (amazing salmon!) and once again the company of women was a balm to my soul. On the way we passed a mural of Switzerland, so we all had to leap out of the car and pose in front of it (okay, Steph and I posed, Lily smoked a cigarette and Shannon took the picture. We were like girls let loose from school for an afternoon. Lily was the cool one.

I love my classes, I love meeting students, but I feel a responsibility to be “on”, to present myself in a certain way when I’m with folks who are part of a class. This weekend was filled with so many moments when I didn’t have to be anything but Annie.

Silly, lost, Annie. That felt very good.

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