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When the kids were young, there was never enough money for everything we wanted. Everybody’s story, right? And everybody handles the problem in his own way.

Because we were brought up in a different time, it simply never occurred to us that we could have anything we wanted, any time we wanted, and then could simply sit back and say, “Oops, I guess I’m out of money, so I choose not to pay you.”

She adjusts her soapbox so that the Sour Grapes label is hidden from view.

Okay, moving on . . .

We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese in those days (cheese being not too expensive and pasta a terrific stretcher) and spent our carefully-hoarded savings on family vacations, not on flashy clothes and cars. Our TV, like everyone else’s, was a 17-inch, black and white machine that sat on a brass-colored stand in the corner. It had a button marked UHF, but I never knew what it was for. If it stopped working, as it was wont to do, my husband the radio nut fixed it. If the car broke down, my husband the mechanic fixed it. If the toilet overflowed, my husband the plumber fixed it.

If the kids or I needed new clothes, we assessed the impact on the budget, then usually hit the nearest Sears store. But once in a while, the tiny little creative part of me would kick in and, leaving the offspring with their Grandma, I’d head to Fabric King and wander in delight through aisles of material on big bolts. Ah, the colors! The textures! The mouth-watering anticipation of the wondrous designer garments I’d make with nothing more than a folded piece of fabric, a tissue-paper pattern, and my own two hands.

And there’s the rub. I bought fabric–over the years, LOTS of fabric–and patterns, and thread and bobbins. It was supposed to come together so easily. Unfortunately, that last ingredient-my own two hands–tended to fail me. I’d throw the material out on my freshly vacuumed carpet and pin the pattern pieces so they all fit, ready to be cut.  So far, so good. I had scissors, big ones and small ones, even funny shaped things to cut buttonholes open. I had pinking shears (if you don’t know what those are, skip the rest of this paragraph) to snip and clip the fabric into the building blocks of my creation. I had dressmaker’s carbon paper to mark the darts and a basic knowledge of what to do once the material was cut.

What I didn’t have, all too often, was the guts to just jump in with my own two hands and make the first cut. Often I’d grab another cup of coffee and read the sewing instructions for the tenth time, and finally, just before my jack-of-all-trades was due home from work, I’d roll up the fabric–still paper-pattern-pinned–and shove it in the closet to wait for inspiration to overcome inertia.

It will happen. Eventually.

Sometimes, it did. Other times, I’d take the fabric out and unroll it only to pop it back in the closet again, choosing to start a new project instead.

It will happen. Eventually.

The funny thing is, months or years later, I might do the take-out-and-unroll and find that, this time, the urge was there. If I could catch it at that moment, the project might turn into something worthwhile. Of course, sometimes the pattern no longer fit, and almost always it needed a little tweaking to make it right. Sometimes it was simply unsalvageable and I’d pass the whole mess onto someone who’d manage to finish the project and give it the fit and flair it deserved.

I don’t sew anymore. Eyes and fingers have grown less accommodating and I choose to aim any bits of creativity in other directions. But my own two hands are still attached, as well as that horrible disinclination to commit. I have the tools to create now, in prose instead of garments, but I seem to end up with the raw materials: words, punctuation marks, a bit of dialogue here and there. There are beginnings of stories that have been in the closet for years. Perhaps one day they’ll see the light of day again, to be tweaked and finished, or maybe to be passed on to someone who can create the ball gown that I couldn’t complete.

It will happen. Eventually. 

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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