A couple weeks ago, I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Greenwood, Arkansas, at the quilt show. Surrounded by other creatives, it felt like a garden party…both exciting and relaxing at the same time. Perhaps it was the rows and rows of dreams rendered in fabric and thread…or maybe it was being with other authors as varied and interesting as the proverbial “box of chocolates.”
It reminded me of the people and places I’ve visited over the years…starting with the delightful Japanese folks who welcomed me into their villages and homes and shared their food and kimonos and tea and stories and art and history with me…to the butcher who put little signs on the various cuts of meat in Katakana and encouraged me to sound out the letters while his other customers waited in line and cheered when I figured out that the sign he’d posted on a steak meant ”beef.”
It also reminded me of our guide in South Korea who drove us around and patiently explained what we were seeing and what it all meant…and who, when I emailed him out of the blue, years later when I was writing a book with Pat McGrath Avery about the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors, to ask about a specific location…not only did he answer me but he drove many miles out of his way to take a picture of a monument the South Koreans had erected to honor the men we were writing about…so that I would put it in the book for those guys to see.
And it also reminded me of our guide in Tanzania who patiently answered my many many questions and went out of his way to make sure that I saw and got a story about every little item on my list…except snakes. Even though he promised me a snake, none materialized …not even on the Serengeti, but we all got a laugh when the only serpent to show its face to us was in town draped around the neck of a fella dancing in the square.
And it also reminded me of our long long trip to Auschwitz and our guide who took us everywhere and showed us everything and explained the unexplainable to us..and who was kind even though he had every reason not to be.
And all of those memories made me appreciate my fellow creatives for translating the world and people around us into something that will last a lot longer than we will. And maybe..just maybe…what we saw and said and did that day in Greenwood, will be remembered years from now…by what we rendered in cloth and thread and ink and paper and paint and film…and imagination.