The magical, disappearing, reappearing scarf

Five weeks ago, I was picking up some guacamole at Whole Foods after leaving my evening writing class. Since I was already there, I figured I’d also grab a 12-ounce Mocha Maca Rebbl drink for the next morning (it’s my current beverage of choice, although LIVE Kombuchas are still my absolute favorite — two years straight now!).

From point A (the produce section) to point B (the grandiose beverage case that’s parallel to the deli), I passed through Whole Body, an area of the store that features vitamins, soaps, bath salts, deodorants, hats, scarves, and other seasonal clothing items. One scarf in particular drew my attention; I followed its beckoning, felt it with my hands, snuck a peek at the price tag, and then left it with a sigh. Out of my league. 

The following week (while getting groceries), I passed by Whole Body again. I craned my neck to see if the scarf was still there — it was. A sense of relief flooded me. I continued walking.

And then several days LATER, after another creative writing class and an evening hankering for guac, I walked right up to the scarf, took it in my arms, and confirmed what I already knew to be true: I was in love.

But the price tag hadn’t changed.

 

So I returned my scarf to its temporary location and scurried over to a nearby team member who was working the floor.

“Heyyyyyyy!” I greeted him. “Sooooo do you know if any super secret clothing sales,” and here, I wiggled my fingers at him, “are coming up soon?”

 

He wiggled his fingers back at me and squinted his eyes. “Yessssssssss they ARE!”

 

In a week, I discovered! Just a week!

 

“WONDERFUL! Then I’ll just go hide that scarf over there…” I laughed, walking away with a wave.

 

“What scarf?”

 

“Oh, the black one over there, outlined with copper — I was just kidding, though,” I hurried to say.

 

He shrugged. “It’s yours,” he said, walking over to it. “What’s your name?”

 

“Jace…”

 

“Alright, Jace! We’ll hold it for you until the sale date rolls around.”

 

 

 

Charlie picked the scarf up for me a week later (we discovered that the sale was actually taking place two weeks later, but I just couldn’t bear waiting any longer; the opportunity cost was, I decided, worth having it now).

 

And I’ll never forget the day we debuted ourselves to the world. I was training a new hire at one of my credit union’s local branches when Charlie walked in with it hanging delicately on his arm. Within seconds, it was hugging my neck.
“Have you seen my magical scarf?” I greeted co-workers.

 

“What makes it magical?” they asked.

 

“I can feel that it’s magical… and just look at it.” 

 

I wore it for a week, and every day, it felt magical. We went together like burritos and guacamole. Until it disappeared.

 

***

I remember the day. Friday.

 

I was heading to work in green corduroy pants, and on my way out the door, I paused by the hat-jacket-and-scarf rack.

 

“I… guess I should wear my green scarf today,” I sighed, realizing that I shouldn’t do my usual thing of obsessing over a new item and wearing only it when other things might match whatever I’m donning more closely.

 

So I put on the green scarf. No need to foreshadow here… I’ll just come right out and say it: Bad, BAD decision.

 

When I woke up on Saturday and reached for my scarf, it was gone. And when I say gone, I mean GONE.

 

I checked the laundry room, the closet, cupboards, glove boxes, and drawers… I searched, in vain, underneath dusty beds, short tables, and shadowy kitchen sinks… and I even called some of my usual spots (Urban Standard, Whole Foods, and Bargain Hunt, because I’d been there a few days before)… but it was nowhere to be found.

 

“Will you please see if it’s underneath the deck?” I asked Charlie on Sunday, thinking that maybe the one of the shepherds had drug it outside and stashed it away. But it wasn’t there, either. I didn’t want it to be destroyed, of course, but when he gave his report, I was completely devastated… because not knowing where it was was even worse than not having it around.

 

Gone, gone, gone. I dreamt about it, during the day and at night, and the question of where the hell it went and was has remained infuriatingly – and devastatingly – unanswered.

 

***

 

And I just knew that I couldn’t live without it. It was Bruce-colored… black and copper, effortless… simple and sentimental.

So I had Charlie track down the name of the company who had made the scarf and then I perused their wares online. I couldn’t find anything similar, which triggered a spike in my sense of alarm.

But on the website, I was able to locate an email address for these producers (Gypsy and Lolo), so I sent them a message with a subject line that read: “I miss my scarf!

 

In the body of my email, I explained the scenario — falling in love with the scarf, denying said love on two occasions, and then surrendering myself to it on the third… I proceeded to detail the loveliness of the scarf, the wonderful resemblance it bore to my late German Shepherd (the truest love of my life), and then I clicked send, feeling iffy on whether or not I’d hear back from a human being but at least relieved that I’d truly exhausted all of my resources.

“I honestly think that someone broke into the house, took the scarf, and left… just to drive me crazy,” I murmured to Charlie that evening.
“That is insane,” he whispered back at me, squeezing my shoulder gently as we continued watching Cheers.

 

***

And then one morning, something amazing arrived. An email.

 

When you look back on your e-life (aka your electronic life), certain text messages, emails, and phone calls stand out firmly in your mind — the ones you couldn’t wait to get, right? Contact from people you were just DYING to hear from…

 

Well this email stands out in my mind as one of “those.”

 

I opened the message quickly, skimming the email at first and then going back to fully read it (and reread it). In short, the office manager believed that they had an identical scarf in stock.

 

I called her on my lunch break.

 

“Hi — this is Jace! We’ve been emailing?”

 

“Yes, Jace! Hi! Yeah, the scarf… I think we have that one here. It’s got black stitching all throughout the scarf and a khaki color along the edges, right?”

 

“Right, black and copper… very simple, but very stunning?”

 

“Yep. That’s our Amber Scarf. I can get it out to you today.”

I gave her my card information right over the phone — yes, I paid for the same scarf twice, and because of #truelove, I did not even CARE — and then a package from California arrived in the mail just three days later, which was yesterday evening.

Charlie and I were leaving the house around 6 PM, en route to Lowes to save a few plants from the “final breath” rack (you know… the discounted, sickly-looking ones that they’re all too ready to throw away). I popped the mailbox open on our way to the car, feeling undeniably hopeful but not TOO much, and was thrilled and startled to discover a small brown package nestled inside.

 

Inside of the car, I opened it.

 

“Even if it isn’t THE one, I will still love it,” I assured Charlie (and myself), the crackly sound of plastic and paper rustling against each other filling the car.

 

But when I gently pulled the lavender-colored paper aside, I finally found it. My scarf. 

 

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Today, I’m wearing it on the couch at Red Cat. Charlie, who is sitting beside me, is working on his novel – Legend of Bruce (which you and I both cannot WAIT to read) – while I’m enjoying recounting the story of my scarf over pumpkin spice coffee and Gouda grits. We picked up some Japanese persimmons at the farmer’s market on our way in here (as well as some Pink Lady apples and a bottle of fancy caramel bourbon sheep’s milk sauce — sounds weird, but doesn’t TASTE weird!) and we’ll be making a few stops on the way home, including a trip to the antiques store on 5th where I hope to find a few more good-sized pots. One of my plants (whose name is Bucket) is sitting inside of a literal sand bucket right now, and he is not pleased.

 

Later on today, I will continue playing my new video game, Hue, while wearing this scarf… shortly thereafter, I will eat dinner (apples with caramel sauce and a thick slice of homemade bread that Charlie baked at 6:00 this morning) while wearing this scarf… before 9:00, I will take a shower while wearing my scarf, go to sleep while wearing my scarf, and someday, I will die a death while wearing my scarf and be cremated with it still on. Because frankly, I fucking REFUSE to lose it. Again. 

 

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

 

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My eleven-minute beer bash

They’d given me a free pass to the beer garden, and after perusing the entire outdoor market, I decided that it was time to use it.

My friend and I approached the beer garden’s entrance where two men stood conversing.

I greeted both of them, showed one of them my little orange entry card, and then watched him shake his head.

 

“You’ll prrrrrobably want to wait until 2:30 to use that,” he said, indicating the card. “This session is ending in eleven minutes, and if you wait until we set-up again, you’ll have a whole hundred and twenty minutes to enjoy the garden.”

 

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“Eleven” from Stranger Things. PC: Google Images

 

My friend nodded her agreement. I also considered the man’s advice, and although it was sensible, I didn’t want to wait another 41 minutes before entering the garden — I’d been volunteering (first) and then exploring (second) all morning, and the odd November heat was making me tired. I also hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I also missed my German Shepherds and had a few story critiques and Spanish assignments to catch up on.

 

“I think I can do it in 11 minutes,” I said, firmly presenting my pass.

 

His eyes widened. “Whew… alright lady. What kind of beer do you like?” he asked, wanting to point me in the right direction, I guess.

 

“I like wine,” I answered simply.

 

He and my friend laughed.

 

She turned to speak with me again, but he interrupted her, grabbing my shoulders. “YOU’VE GOT TEN MORE MINUTES! GO!”

***

When I was first given the pass to the beer garden, I immediately thought of current friends (and old friends) who might enjoy it more than I would; one was stuck at work, another one would be hard to get the card to, and the third one was an out-of-touch dummy stupid-o storm.

Then, it occurred to me: I can enjoy the beer garden! I’m an adult! I don’t really like beer, or at least I don’t think I do, but this’ll be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons… to find out for sure.

 

So after being pushed into the garden, I took a few seconds to assess my surroundings: lots of people, loud people; the pungent scent of alcohol; little plastic tables littered about the small enclosure with unopened bags of chips on them, and booths with happy beer vendors stationed just behind them.

I nodded and turned to the left, planning on making a full circle.

 

The first beer I tried was cranberry-flavored. I actually really liked it!

The second one was some pale-ale, grapefruit-and-citrus-notes, yadda yadda yahhhh, and I did NOT like it. I discreetly emptied my glass beside a tree.

The third one was unremarkable, and I did not like it.

The fourth one was supposed to taste like a bloody mary, which obviously meant something to the girl who poured it for me, but I thought that it tasted like cold tomato soup and that it was completely unsuitable without a grilled cheese served alongside it.

I offered it to the ground.

The fifth drink purported to mimic a cream soda, but it was SO totally unlike a cream soda. What is WRONG with these people? I thought to myself. Their interpretation and description of flavor is so ODD!

So I went back to the first man who had poured the cranberry juice (aka good beer) and asked for more of it. Numero seis.

And then I left.

 

I was the first person to leave the garden and made a beeline for my friend, feeling a little giddy and a little sick to my stomach. I had probably consumed the equivalent of ONE glass of beer in ten minutes’ time. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon.

On the bus back to the parking lot, she leaned over and asked me how I was feeling.

“Oh, just fine!” I assured her. “And I’ve already got a plan in place — if things take a turn for the worse and I need to vomit, I’ve got my purse unzipped,” I smiled, gently patting the bag.

 

***

 

Conclusion: I prefer wine. 

 

Before the beer garden, I spent the majority of my time exploring Natalie’s booth, Natalie being a cool, middle-aged Jewish gal from Huntsville. She makes glass artwork — pendants, earrings, sun catchers (are those a thing?), treasure dishes, etc. — and I’m a repeat customer.

I purchased two of her creations this year: a pink dragon pendant (for me, a symbol of female strength) and an interesting pendant-necklace that the artist had handpicked for me.

“I really think you’ll like this one,” she said, approaching me. It featured a symbol representing the word truth on a radiant pink background.

“It’s perfect,” I said. “A, I just reconciled myself to the color pink recently, and B, I’ve just discovered a way to keep the bad side of my imagination in check. It’s like, on a routine basis, I’ll imagine something awful, or just unpleasant, happening, and I’ll waste soooooo much time on the idea,” I sighed. “But the other day, while I was right in the middle of one of these reverse-fantasies, a word hit me out of nowhere: Fiction.” I paused. “And right then, the reverie ended. I’ve been employing the power word ever since, and it’s working. It’s helping.”

It’s like the agnostic equivalent of saying get thee behind me Satan, I laughed to myself only.

 

I’m wearing both pendants today, and I intend on wearing them for a while. When you discover something new and you know that you need to really hold onto it, it’s good to keep little reminders close to you… sometimes, even hovering right above your heart.

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Still here,

Aun Aqui

 

 

The stories we write…

“I want to kill myself,” she admits. We all nod our understanding, or look at our desks, or tug on our coat sleeves.

“I want to kill him,” another says, chuckling. We don’t know who she’s referring to, but we laugh a little.

“I wish my dad spent more time with me,” a young man whispers. “When I was growing up, I mean,” he adds, a bit louder.

“I just wish I could get a grip on my OCD,” a brunette grumbles, fidgeting.

“I wish she was dating me instead of a complete asshole,” he says, arms crossed. I notice his foot tapping mutely against the carpet.

“I hate my mom,” a boy to my right spits. “It’s her fault he killed himself.”

***

Tuesday night therapy sessions — that’s how I’ve come to look at my creative writing class.

We all come prepared with stories we’ve written — fiction. Fiction we’ve painstakingly crafted, letting inspiration blaze ahead of us so that we could scurry along behind it with an extinguisher, seeking to show readers things instead of tell them; striving to make readers empathize with the narrator, the villain, the main characters… to fall in love with them, even.

So we choose a lens; a narrator. Ourselves, often — other times, a friend or a family member or an unnamed god.

Then we settle on a frame of mind; a perspective. We drop thoughts like breadcrumbs, and then use action to move things along… we give our characters words, using these words to portray their personalities and to trigger reactions in other characters, and then we insert more thoughts, more depth, more soul. We create and resolve conflict — but in doing so, we carefully decide what to make perfectly clear and what to leave maddeningly ambiguous.

And we secretly weave ourselves, our souls, into our stories — we bare them openly, we star right in them, and then we call them fiction.

***

“It’s just annoying,” my favorite one says. “She’s totally in love with him, I get that, but all she ever talks about is how great he is… well what ISN’T great about him?” she demands, exasperated. “What are his flaws? What ANNOYS her about him? Who is she apart from him? I know NOTHING about her, OTHER than she’s head over heels for this guy…”

 

I nod over at her, wide-eyed. Damn. It felt just like a slap on the wrist, but a good one… the kind of jolt I needed.

That was one story.

 

“I think it’s unfair,” a soft voice offered, looking at a boy who had authored another story. “You talk about how the kid daydreams about his dad, ‘the crap father in a suit’, but what about the dad? What’s he thinking and feeling? I bet he’s probably daydreaming about the kid.”

 

Everyone awwwwwwed. “Write that in, maybe,” the boy who had been speaking continued. “Show us the dad’s struggle… give us the full picture.”

That was another story.

 

“When she’s on her way to the lake, you mention her hair in a tight fish braid, with just a few wisps blowing around,” I began, staring at my fingers, the desk a blur behind them. “But when she slips under the ice, you describe her hair as flowing freely in the water…”

I paused. “That’s so beautiful. That tells me that death was freeing for her — accidental, supposedly, but freeing. Why?” I looked up at her, the dead girl. “Why was she unhappy? Why did she hate herself?”

That was a third.

 

And here’s a fourth:

“I love how the setting conjured such strong feelings and memories in you,” the professor said, looking at me. “I particularly like the line that read:

‘A scale suspended from a wooden plank in the ceiling whispered my mother’s words back to me: You shall be weighed and found wanting.'”

***

There are different ways of doing therapy; you can eat it up, shop it out, talk with a friend or a counselor, or simply work your grief into a story. You can call it truth or you can label it fiction; either way, observing and feeling your grief through the eyes and heart of another character lends a unique perspective…

You begin to realize how capable the character is of getting through it, growing stronger, and making their situation better… and sometimes, if you think about it long enough AND you let the truth of it really sink in, that same hope, courage, and awareness translates over to your own situation.

 

I was crying softly late this afternoon, walking through an antiques store in search of a pedestal. Two of my plants have been sitting on a shared shoebox, their low height poising them just short of the sunlight. I wanted to improve their situation.

But I wasn’t crying for them. I was crying for myself. I felt terribly sad, and terribly lonely in that sadness.

So I focused on the things I saw; I imagined them in my house, or in friends’ houses. I wondered who had owned these things before, and whether or not they were happy with themselves or the things.

I found the right pedestal, but more importantly, I found a nice surprise for my best friend — one that was high up, just a little out of my reach. Spotting it completely turned my day around.

I located an employee with my eyes, an old man, and made my way over to him to ask for help. He was happy to oblige.

As we walked back toward the out-of-reach object together, he turned to look at me. “You always come in here with the nicest smile,” he said, smiling himself.

“Oh, thank you!” I replied, returning the smile.

He patted me on the back, grandfather-like. “You’ve got a pretty smile, and you’re a gorgeous girl… really, you are… just keep on smiling.”

***

This is what depression feels like. This is the color, the tone, the texture of it.

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Our journal assignment for Tuesday night’s class: Observe a body of water.

 

My journal entry: Reflections 

 

I smile, you smile. I frown, you frown.
I feel kind of hazy, and you look really hazy.
It’s hard to tell if we’re actually feeling the same, or if one of us is lacking in authenticity.
When the sun is shining and the air is still, you’re so complacent. It’s nice for a while, but you grow bored with it.
So the wind picks up, and the sun goes down.
Your temperature declines with it… and sometimes, nature throws a fit for you. Just for you. But then the people leave, and you crave them; you crave every kind of chaos. So the fit ends, and the people return, and their children throw stones at you, for you.
When they throw stones at me, it hurts; and when they throw stones at you, I know it hurts, because your color darkens, and your substance becomes complicated… you’re like a spasm of water and rock and dirt and stone. It’s okay; I’m a mess, too.
But you’re always so smooth when I touch you. Never jagged, not ever, though you can be cold as hell.
And you look so small when you’re so far away… but up close, I just can’t seem to see anything else.

Still here,

Aun Aqui