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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Consolation

So, it's kind of a funny name for a "tekkie" quilt - "Consolation." When I had it registered with the Quebec Quilt Registry Program, I had the opportunity to explain it to the ladies there, and by the nodding and the smiling I decided I should explain in depth why this new-age quilt was given such an old-fashioned name.

Like every story I tell, it's long and has a few turns. It begins with my friend Ray, who I met when I was 17 years old - forty years ago this year.

We met in film class at CEGEP. At that time, he looked like another friend of mine for whom I had been longing. When I saw Ray sitting in that class, I rushed up to him in astonishment ready to throw my arms around him. When I got close enough, I saw it was a stranger, but we sat together and pretty much became friends on the spot anyway.

Now we can skim over details and just look at the overall dimensions of this friendship. A few years after CEGEP was done, we were off and running in our marriages - for me it would be only the first, he had more staying power. 

We produced children. I went through a divorce. He started and ran a business, successfully, I might add. He sold the business and went back to university to get a Bachelor's degree. He had a partial separation during this time, but went home on weekends. Then he moved back home and got his Master's degree.

Our children brought us joy and pain, they had health issues. We went to movies, with or without our spouses and/or other pals. I had health issues, big ones.

Through forty years of friendship, not a week went by when we didn't talk, and during times of crisis it was often several times a week. It seems to me I had more crises, and he was more helpful to me than I was to him. All those years we kept up the same kind of relationship we'd had in film class - arguing over details, postulating "what-if"s, finding humor in the blackest of situations.

Ray is a catalyst - you want to get the party going, invite him! He can make the most mundane become hilarious.

To sum up, I have taken great Consolation from our friendship.

That's the first part of the story. Now to a small section of details.

We both worked at McGill in an audio-visual center, albeit at different times. (I was hired when he handed in his resignation and was starting his business.) So our paychecks said "Audio-visual Technician" on them. He was more technical than me, having an insatiable curiousity, but I was pretty much more technically-minded than most women my age, and working in Audio-visual was kind of a natural progression after film class. 

So when the internet got invented and I got my first Mac computer, it was only natural that I would eventually end up at Ray's house  and we'd be fooling around with what you could do on the internet. I'd always enjoyed writing, and he had always been after me to do some seriously, so he set me up with a blog.

Ta-da! You're reading it! I have since set up my own blog (debrant.blogspot.com), but of course it's a much simpler setup than this one. This one has ads and generates statistics that go over my head, but he still reads the stats, and the blogs. He "follows" both my blogs, so his computer goes "bing" whenever I post.

Now for part three.

A few years ago, Ray embarked on a different kind of journey. He became a spiritual advisor in Ignatian spirituality. (That's St. Ignatius of Loyola, for whom Loyola campus, high school, and formerly University are named.)

I'm not going to talk about religion here, because spirituality and religion are two very different things. But it's important to the story to mention one thing: In Ignatian spirituality, being in the presence of God is called "Consolation," and being apart from God is called "Desolation."

Now, right about the time Ray was taking all his courses to become an advisor, I was going through my second big depression, "Desolation," if you will. In the throes of my second depression, I gotta say, I was pretty desolate.

I reached a point one day where I said to Ray, "I have to believe in something bigger than me. I just can't do it all by myself. I need something to look up to."

And that's when Ray became my counsellor. He had to tread very carefully with me, because I'd had rather a traumatic religious upbringing and at first couldn't tolerate the word "god," and especially couldn't tolerate the concept most people have of "god." It took us some time to forge a working vocabulary that wouldn't drive me away, but Ray was as patient and understanding as he'd been for thirty-five years, and we managed to find a way for him to guide me to a better understanding of Consolation.

The final part of the tale involves me becoming a quilter, ten years ago. I was on some pretty serious psychiatric meds then, and my quilts reflected that. They didn't know how to classify my quilts when I first landed on the scene. I had working curtains in the stuffed windowframes of my "House that Jack Built" quilt, which had large thread paintings in every window depicting the story. My "Safe Passage" quilt had a thread painted Mariner's compass in the center, an abstract, randomly-pieced, machine raw-edge appliqu├ęd ocean, and borders made from blocks called Ocean Waves, Wild Waves, Storm at Sea, Beacon Light, and North Star. It was chaos. I hadn't seen it for a few years and recently helped my husband hang it up in his bedroom (we no longer live together), and my first thought was "They must have thought I was on drugs!" Then I realized I had been!

I've honed my craft over the past decade, learned that I prefer hand-quilting over machine quilting, and became Program Coordinator for my guild. This year I gave them a Challenge: Quilting in the 21st century.

And my QR quilt was born. 

A QR code is like a bar code, but your cell phone reads it, and it's a web address (url). You turn on the app, hold your phone up to the QR code as if you were going to take a picture of it, and your phone then takes you to the website. No more having to remember or write down long urls. And your phone remembers them for you.

So I got a QR code generated for this blog site - wrote about it in the post called "Welcome to the Blogathon," and then decided that "Quilting in the 21st Century" would be a good challenge theme for the guild.

And I am giving it to Ray (who didn't know that until this moment), in appreciation and thankfulness for the consolation he has brought me in forty years of unbroken friendship. In this small way, I hope my quilt can bring him some consolation too. At least it can keep his legs warm while he labours at his computer, or wrap him and his girlfriend up while watching tv, or his cats can get fur on it. I like to think that he'll wrap himself up in it and "set a-while." And I look forward to our next chat, and the one after that, for however many more years we both have on this earth.