Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

There have been a lot of changes around here lately, some easier than others. Fall is, after all, just one page-turn of the calendar away, and change is on that end-of-summer breeze that is blowing in. Paul's and my house has been turned upside down in response to this seasonal transition and my world, in many ways, has been too.

The biggest change...
I recently found out about another clothing company with a similar name and that mine would have to change. This was really difficult at first, because of how closely tied together the name of the clothing line and the ideas behind it have been. It was also difficult because this is my baby, and it felt like someone came up to me and told me that their child was already named "George" and the name couldn't be used by another soul, not even as "George Lewis" or "George Jr." There could be no other George. Ever. There's a primal attachment you have to something you give name to, and I felt like it was being taken away from me. It was a giant slap in the face, a punch in the gut, a kick in the shins. Everything.

Finally though, I have gotten used to the idea and embraced the opportunity for change. The clothing line is going through many other changes right now, so what better time for something like this? I feel that the line is at the end of its nascency, right at that point where it is about to burst forth and blossom. I have been testing that coming wind as it has gained strength, allowing Sophie, Baird, and their friends out of the house long enough to gain their footings, and now they are grown enough to take flight on their own. The clothing has roused interest in the community. Charlotte Magazine is about to publish a feature (!). The fall animals are about to make their debut. T-shirts are coming along and are soon to follow. My work has even outgrown its space, and this week, I am finishing up the move into a much bigger workspace, what was previously my bedroom. Paul and I now have only one bed in our house, which has been another big (and joyous) transition in my life. 

For the past two weeks, I feel that I have been in hibernation, getting myself ready for all of this. It has been quite a mental and emotional preparation. There has been a lot of pacing, a lot of packing, many cups of tea, long contemplative baths, meditative stitching, and finally came the lists. Long, exhaustive lists of possible names. And lots of research to be sure there was no other "George." The search was difficult. There are only so many words in the English language. But finally, lightning struck, and I didn't understand why I hadn't thought of it before.

I think there was something about the interview with Charlotte Magazine that still stuck in my mind from the week before. The questions were personal, and I talked a lot of my great-grandmother, my "Granny," of times at her house with my Papa (her husband) and Aileen (my grandma - they all lived together) and how it was her who taught me how to sew. It was also there, in Papa's radio-shop-turned-storage-shed out back, that I rummaged through wardrobes and chests of old clothes and made a new wardrobe for myself, out of Aileen and mama's old clothes from when they were young. Polyester tops, bell bottoms, cute summer blouses. But it was more than all this. There is so much more to the story...

On the left... This is a photo of my grandmother, Aileen, when she was just a young girl. She is pictured in the middle, holding a cat. On the right... This is a photo of Papa and Granny. She looks so happy, and he looks so handsome. I think these look like happy times in all three of their lives. These photos are displayed in what is now my sewing room, and I have carried them with me from house to house, during many moves.

My Aileen and my Granny are the women who really taught me what living was all about. I spent all my summers and my time after school there, watching over their shoulders as they made homemade biscuits and graham cracker pie, canned vegetables, mended clothing, and "straightened up the house."  I helped them hang the wash on the line, shuck corn, snap peas, and pick up pecans. Aileen helped me learn to read and to love it, taught me the lessons of discipline (do your work first) and self reliance (when you don't know a word, look it up and sound it out). Granny taught me about joy, about giving to others, about taking the time to listen and to share stories. They are life. They are love. They are in everything I do.

And so the name I decided on is Verabelle, a combination of both their names - Vera and Isabelle. I can't think of a better way to honor them, to pick up these threads of the past and weave them into a richer present, to remind myself of where I came from and what this is all about.

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