Amy Knight is one of the few people in the world that understands the Path of a Seamstress (as my brother calls it), the path I’ve been on for sometime now. We somehow managed to crisscross the country doing the same type of creative work, in many of the same places, without ever meeting each other. We know many of the same people. My sewing mentor, Marcy Linton, was trained by the woman Amy worked with in college. Her name is Judy Adamson, and from my knowledge she is one of the most respected and feared drapers in the country. I probably need to consider devoting a whole post to my experiences with her, but that is for another conversation.
Amy and I didn’t meet until last April. She was the first hand to the draper at a costume shop I’d been wanting to work for for years. I took a brief seamstressing contract with them before starting at The Fabric Store.
We’ve only had spotty contact, mostly on Facebook, since her departure from the city. I got this email from her Saturday afternoon.
So, like others, I have been following your blog through the past few months. Sometimes it feels strange to be reading all of this about you, getting to know captions of you but without your knowing more about me, like a one sided coffee date. Now trust me, I don’t flatter myself to think that you are sitting around thinking, whatever happened to Amy Knight, and after all part of the point of a blog is to open yourself to unknown readers that you know relatively little, often nothing, about. But you know, during the short time that we knew one another in San Francisco, I openly felt like there we several things that you had gone through that resonated with me. Continuing to read your blog I feel this even stronger, but also respect entirely the journey that you are on, yourself, no one but you.
Now what I am about to do is tell you just a bit about what has gone on with me, and again it is funny how I already feel the rejection that might come from openly telling you this without your asking…because imagine if everyone who read your blog did this…ha. After all, we are, at least so far, among those people who drifted through one another’s lives briefly without necessarily returning, but for me, Leslie, you have left a mark.
I spent the most miserable months of my life this summer after leaving San Francisco, or more precisely, leaving Steve…who calls himself Astronautis…if you ever meet him RUN. I returned home to North Carolina not knowing what would happen next, continuing to be jerked around by this person who wouldn’t just leave me alone, and who I could not bring myself to deny entirely. It is funny how many things I tried sexually while I was in San Francisco, exploratory for me, but also under the pressure to please this guy or be open enough…at least insofar as trying to make an open relationship with him work. (You realize that the girl in the photo with Travis Sigley on the site you had the link to is me? yes, that is me circa about April of last year.) At the end of the day he really just felt like fucking other women that did not include me, while telling me that I was not attractive, I should go find other people, but that he wanted to spend his life with me…all on top of a lot of other mentally and emotionally abusive things that were said about my intelligence, and even accusations of my not being “interesting” enough for him….Anyway, horrible summer. I decided to travel to Norway on my own, get away, and put off at least for a few months the decisions about what I was going to do with my life back in the United States. The moment I stepped on that airplane to leave I felt a tremendous rush of relief. Have you seen the movie, Labyrinth? The part with the creatures that carry everything on their backs? The old memories and bits they cannot let go of? I felt like I had been one of those creatures that suddenly, phoenix-like, shed my skin. For years before San Francisco I moved constantly with jobs in the theater, I’m sure just like you… Other than the summers spent on farms the last few years, I had been in the same place for a while and had forgotten how good the velocity of traveling, of leaving, feels.
Norway was incredible. I felt strong, useful and capable, remembering everything that I wanted and desired out of my life, taking time to feel my body stretch and ache, working and hiking and sleeping, neck craning to see northern lights and wondering what it was like to fall off of a cliff into the polar sea…I finally felt truly strong again. I have always been a strong woman, I’ve always known that about myself. But this relationship had somehow managed to manipulate me into a person that I never thought I would be. I found the person that I loved again: me. I milked 116 goats twice a day, dug a trench, picked strawberries, dug potatoes and carrots, fixed a roof, planted 300 raspberry plants, learned old norwegian knitting techniques, spinning wool, and made a coat for a one year old baby.
And I also ended up meeting Nicolas…who as of January 20th became my husband. We met in Norway, he’s French, he came for a few months to North Carolina, we were married- certain that we want to be together, and knowing that this would ultimately be easier for the bureaucracy however fast it seems to the rest of the world. There were times in the beginning of our relationship that I feared I was running to this man to escape dealing with other things, but I can confidently say that with all of the soul searching that has happened I know that this is not the case and I am genuinely in love and loved by someone that I can continue to adventure with and grow beside in this very uncertain life. He is in France, sculpting and building boats. I am in North Carolina making jewelry that I am hoping to sell and learning French until my visa comes through in a month or two. This is difficult, being back at home.
Excruciating at times. A godsend at others. I feel like I am in purgatory, but also that I have been given this incredible chance to feed the needy artistic beast inside of me for a while and see what emerges, and also reconnect with the family that I have been away from for a long time. Life stays hard, but good. I am lonely, very lonely. I miss San Francisco and the friends that I love there, who know me where I am now, and not in this odd world that I left 6 years ago and have suddenly returned to. But at the same time, I am alright, and I am looking forward to the terrifying things that are coming next.
So. What of it? Why not delete all this nonsense from a person who doesn’t exist anymore… I suppose I am just too moved by what you write not to write you, because it reminds me of what we talked about when we were out having drinks in San Francisco, and how I can only indulge a small wish that you had arrived earlier or I had stayed longer. Don’t worry, I won’t pester your inbox with my life..ha. I read a lot of poetry, usually good poetry though not always, and I wanted to offer you these as a token of respect for the work you do, the life you live, and the courage you have to explore it and share it. Usually I don’t care much for other people thrusting poetry on me, but here I go anyway…
and, because I enjoy Mary Oliver very much…
Thank you for your beautiful message. I can’t tell you how much your letter put my day in perspective. I will tell you exactly what happened as I read it.I am excited to be hearing from you. I am interested in your life and I am so happy that you had the “audacity” to email me with notes on it’s development. I think about you often. Please feel free to share whenever you feel compelled.
You were one of the first friends I made after a very difficult start in San Francisco. It was during a time that all the friends I happened to make were deciding to leave. I felt like person repellant. Your exit and several others close to that time affected me. I felt like we could have been BFF’s, and that our time together was cut dramatically short. You leaving made the others that I’ve experienced during my year hear more bearable. You were my training wheels.
I am not great at keeping in contact with far off friends. I do my best. I think that is part of the reason I keep my blog. Many people tell me that reading my blog is like hanging out with me, and it’s supposed to be. In terms of hours in a day, there don’t seem to be enough for me to spend time with all the people I’ve met that I love. Maybe that’s because I love hard and deep and long. I’ve made a lot of amazing friends, and have had to leave even more behind. My blog is a way for people who want to check in with me to keep up with what I’m doing, and I thank you for taking some time to both read and respond to my experiences.
I read your email on my smartphone as I exited Britex for lunch. Today was pay day, so I decided to treat myself to Chipotle. I walked down Powell right as I read the part about Travis. I had a good laugh about the great coincidence that seems to be our lives. We follow each other without even knowing it. To Virginia, to Utah, to San Francisco – we’ve met many of the same people along the way. No, I didn’t know that was you in the photograph. I met Travis once. He used to be roommates with one of my current housemates. He was wearing the most ridiculous pair of homemade, stretch velvet leggings and a fanny pack the day I met him. No shirt. He gave me a beer and a business card and we took pictures in my room/photo studio. Very random. I only thought of him that day, when I was feeling lonely.
I entered Chipotle, excited to read more from you. I approached the front of the line while reading the bit about you getting married. I soon realized I was listening to my own sobs. They weren’t loud but they were noticeable. The line cooks and hashers watched me with sympathetic expressions. Their figures, blurred from my tears, turned into androgynous blobs. One of them handed me a napkin. I managed, with a steady voice, to order my steak burrito.
What I felt was happiness. I was so happy for you, that after all that you’ve gone through you’ve been able to love again. You’ve done it! I’ve learned that how you love is how we are supposed to love, with our hearts. Reason and logic have no place in these matters. We love, and we love with our hearts, our full hearts, or we don’t love at all. I can’t wait until I can do that again.
Once upon a time, I was great at loving and failing and loving again. I haven’t felt that way in four years. I am keenly aware of this. I am afraid of loving again. I’ve failed so many times. Five fantastic failures. I know I shouldn’t count but I don’t want to fail again. It’s not the best attitude to have. We try and we fail and we try again. That’s how it goes.
This last time was so hard. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I had to be cut open to get rid of those wounds. There were five tumors, the same number of years I was romantically involved with my last partner, the same number of serious relationships I’ve had. These things are related in my mind. You know when people lose a lot of weight, but they still feel fat? I think I’m going through a little bit of that. The physical evidence is gone, but old patterns die hard. Time and love will solve these problems, so I’m giving myself plenty of both.
I have to share a little more about what the psychic said to me, you read what I wrote about the psychic, right? Well he also told me that I’ve been carrying a lot around with me, things I don’t need to be carrying anymore. Like the creatures you mentioned from the Labyrinth. He also talked a lot about gardens, and asked me if I spent a lot of time in nature as a child, which I did. He said my answers are there. I’ve been trying to find a garden in the city but they all have insane waiting lists (one was 8 years) or are closed to new applicants. Still searching for my garden.
I’m glad you finally saw what I saw when I met you. I couldn’t understand why you would ever settle for anything but amazing. I adore(d) you.
And I can only hope that if you, a person who’s path I consider to be most similar to my own, has both found herself and someone wonderful to share it with, then maybe something wonderful is not so far away as I imagine.
With best wishes for you and Mr. Knight. ;) Looking forward to having someone to visit in France.Leslie
Love and Enjoy!
***Check for updates if you like this post. There might be more correspondence.***