Lock and Key

As the chest was being shoved into a cove, after another move, the familiar warmth of the endless times in front of the sewing machine came to me; a needle, clacking against itself. I quickly wiped off the untouched dust and thrust the hinges open, hearing the creak and saw what my curiosity had expected to be there—years of many expressions literally threaded together. I fingered the layers of material, different textures caressing my fingers and I immediately wanted to run up the stairs and start up the machine, craving the sweet sounds I had heard harmoniously throughout my life. As I gently closed the latch, turning the shiny lock and sat back, wondering why I had not touched the chest in so many years. I realized that this elongated box and its contents stood for much more than storage; it held the key to my true vice.

Although the green chest has brought me through some dark times, the rest of my family simply regards it as "another box". I have to remind them what is in it each time we pack our bags to leave yet another house, telling the secret components that lie within. It has such meaning to who I am today. As soon as the latch clicked into place, the endless and priceless memories trickle through my mind. Most of my childhood was comprised of organizing, cutting, and sewing the savored pounds of material that I especially pick out for my own "projects." I mostly did them when I was bored or upset with something and everyone could tell if there was something off with me once I started pinning. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the many steps put into making an item, no one quite understood the meaning that I found from it.

The nostalgia washes over me like a summer wave. It takes me back to when I was in second grade, just becoming familiar with the humming machine. As I lay on the floor, I meticulously straightened out the fabric and hesitantly glance over at my mother.

"But mom, what if I do it wrong? I know it's going to look bad, I'm going to mess it up…" I said, trailing off in worry.

My mother's smile came and she guided my hands, saying, "You can do anything you put your mind to. And I know it'll be great; you're a smart girl."

I looked at her again.

"It won't be bad," she finished.

I breathed out and cautiously pinned and cut out the purple material. This was the first item to go in the box—my first poodle skirt.

My hands run through the sentimental creations that were once stacks of folded cloth, and now treasured forms of art. The blue and white gingham from the Dorothy costume, the sparkling purple and white fairy dress, complete with the crown, the purses and the dresses. They were all with me during a special time growing up, compiling a colorful timeline of the stepping stones of my growth. There was realistic proof that I did change; the virtues and abilities still with me today. Eventually, the stitches became stronger and less bumpy with much effort and time. My mother was with me for almost every one, some of them with her hands, and some with mine. Now I am so in sync to the hobby, the pedal closely reflects my heartbeat.

I remember almost every single assignment I gave myself, but one pertinent time in my life made the passion come out more than expected. My grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer, and I felt my hands gravitate towards the comforting sounds. It was stable, unlike anything else in this world. It would be there for me, and most of all, it reminded me of her. She was the one that taught my mother how to sew, and the sharing continued on with me. I could not think of a better way to react; mindlessly running the needle straight, like I wanted my life to be. Whenever I messed up, I took it personally—it seemed like it represented something much more than just joining pieces of material together, it kept me together.

Throughout my life, I learned that I always ran to this one particular chair. No matter the circumstances, I found myself sitting behind it, tapping my foot rhythmically along. Thinking of the chest makes most of my memories and childhood clearer, the little stories coming together one by one. Just by its looks, it seems like just an ordinary aged box, but to me, it opens all the locks from the years I spent mulling over experiences that have deeply impacted me.