Saturday, April 17, 2010

What happens in Newtown

Not that I mean this to be a guide for what would happen if you went to Newtown. That, you'd have to tell me.

What happens in Newtown, when you're me, is this.

You walk up King St for an hour, and then change directions and walk for another hour. Along the way, you stop in many of the shops selling indie fashion and handmade accessories.

Somewhere around the second of those shops, the introjects you have been carrying around of your mother and grandmother pop up.

Just as you're picking up a pair of very cute bobby pins made out of yo-yos (the fabric ones, not the ones that keep coming back to you -- but oh, how I wished these would come back with me!), fastened with tiny buttons, Mummy's voice pipes up.

"Aren't those just circles of cloth with buttons on them? I could make those!"

And then you wander over to a wallet with an applique owl on it, and out comes Mama. "Aiyo. Look at that. It's just a simple machine applique. I can do that!"

And so, on you go, the two generations chattering along on either side of you while the yo-yos stay on the shelf, their siren calls to you unanswered. For now.

(I'm fully aware that my mother and grandmother are not really in my head. Just so you know. But, you know, a good Chinese mother always makes sure that her voice stays with her descendants long and loud. There are some parts of Chinese motherhood to which I don't necessarily aspire.)

For the rest of your time in Newtown, you may be enticed to enter a second-hand bookshop on the sole grounds of there being a Lat book in the window. The Good Introjects of Newtown will not keep you from buying everything you pick up there, because they cannot write, illustrate, lay out, print and bind a copy of Leunig's When I Talk To You for $5. And so, you will leave with books.

And you will start for home, but all the way on the bus and on the other bus you will think, "But books aren't everything." They're something, that's for sure, but you can't pin them on your hair and look cute, or use them to dress up a plain cotton tote.

By the time you reach home, you will wish more than anything that your needlework supplies consisted of more than four colours of embroidery thread and two metres of plain cheesecloth. Your fingers, even the sore one with the mysterious bruise that has kept you out of 2.5 days' work, will itch to do, to snip and stitch and join and make something.

And then you will remember that last week, you discovered two of your dresses had buttons that were falling off, and decided that it was easier to get rid of all the buttons than to secure the loose ones. And while you kept the cute, oversized buttons in a safe place, you thought, "Someday I'll find something to do with them."

You'll even remember that you have a dastardly habit of saving every bit of fabric that comes your way, even the canvas size tags that come with some brands of jeans.

And, by the end of the evening, the introjects will be patting you on the head with great pride, saying, "See? You would have paid far too much if you'd bought something like that just now."

And you will think, maybe that's true and maybe it does give you a sense of satisfaction, knowing this is the fruit of your creativity... but that doesn't mean I'm not going back to Newtown soon.

And I will leave the voices where they belong: with the owner (grandma) and in the past (mother), respectively. And oh, what fun the yo-yos and I will have.

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