The line at JoAnn's was extraordinarily long. I stood there with my single ball of yarn for what seemed like hours, waiting behind a couple of young, harried-looking mothers wearing homemade sweaters and jeans. The smell of the store surrounded me and sunk into my clothes like water into a sponge. I took a deep whiff of the spicy cloves, cool peppermint, and green pine scents that the store took on during the Christmas season. Even though it wasn't even thanksgiving yet, Santas and snowmen were out in force, poinsettias decorated every corner of the store, and Christmas ornaments hung from every available space.
For lack of anything better to do, I watched the people around me. The two women before me in line were talking animatedly. One of them was heavily pregnant and the other was toting around two kids in her cart; a young boy who couldn't seem to stand still and a baby sitting comfortably in his car seat. I'd read somewhere that when mothers don't hold their kids very often—or when they carry them into stores in car seats—it interferes the mother-child bond. Would these kids would feel neglected when they grew up?
I couldn't help but watch the kids. They were so adorable. The one in the car seat chewed single-mindedly on the corner of a package of felt, watching me intently with gray-blue eyes. He seemed determined to bite through the plastic to get to the soft fabric inside with his nonexistent teeth. The other one ran around the cart, giggling madly and pointing excitedly at the brightly colored fabrics of the store.
Both women had their hands full, trying to have a conversation and keep the boy from running around the store at the same time. I smiled slightly, remembering my own days of hiding in clothes racks and fabric shelves while my mom did her shopping.
"This is ridiculous," one of the women was saying to her friend. "They're never this busy. Is there a sale today?"
Her friend checked a pile of coupons she held. "It's Veteran's day. Of course there's a sale. Oh, here it is. Ten percent off every purchase."
I looked around the store, hoping to see if they had the coupons in plain sight, but gave up when I remembered my mom got them in the mail.
Bored, I tossed the ball of yarn I held from one hand to another. It was ultra-soft, angel-hair yarn in sunset colors for a scarf I was planning on making for my sister. She would love the vibrant oranges, yellows, reds, and golds, and the softness was an added bonus. Christmas was on its way, and I never crocheted fast enough to finish anything in time. It was already taking me over a year to finish one scarf.
The line trailed so far back in the store that I found myself standing across the aisle from the cross-stitching section. I scanned the patterns for anything that looked interesting, doing a mental inventory of ones I already had. Considering my budget, I figured I should probably wait until I finished those before I bought any new ones.
As it was, my friends all teased me for my "elderly woman" habits. While watching movies, I liked to crochet or knit, though I wasn't good at either, and I liked to quilt and cross-stitch in my free time. I probably got called "old lady" at least once a day when my friends were over. Buying more patterns would only encourage the light-hearted, but exasperating teasing.
The two women in front of me had turned their conversation to crafts in the store. They were discussing what kinds of paint worked best on fabric. I recalled sweatshirts my mom had made for us kids when we were younger, and winced in sympathy for the children running around the cart.
I went back to watching the young boys. The one on his feet had left his blanket in the cart, a cute quilt with soft fleece on one side and cotton lion print on the other. Had his mother had sewn it for him? Perhaps she had spent her pregnancy making it and other various cuddly and cute things for her upcoming child.
The kid running free squealed and came up to me. "Hi!" he said.
"Hello," I replied, smiling. "What's your name?"
His mother watched me as the kid replied, possibly making sure I wasn't out to kidnap him. "Blake!" he said cheerfully, unaware of his mother's scrutiny.
"That's a cool name," I said. "Mine is Meghan."
"Meyan," he repeated. "Meyan, Meyan, Meyan."
"Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself."
Blake grinned and I could see his teeth, neatly lined up in a row. I guessed him to be about four or five.
"Blake, leave the nice girl alone," Mamma Bear said, finally seeming to decide that I was a potential threat. Maybe it was my lack of homemade clothing. He smiled one last time at me and ran to his mother, wrapping his arms around her knees. "Mommy."
"Yes, Mommy," she said absentmindedly, turning away from me now that Blake was no longer within the danger zone.
"Did I tell you the news about my sister?" she said to her friend suddenly as if she had just remembered, her eyes lighting up in excitement. Her friend shook her head and she continued. "My youngest sister is pregnant! She and Kurt just found out."
"That's wonderful news!" her friend exclaimed, patting her own swollen belly. "Is it her first?"
"It is. She's so excited. I'm so happy for her," Mamma Bear gushed. "And my eldest sister just found out today that she's having a girl."
"What's funny is my parents have seven grandchildren all under the age of three right now. And it's possible that if my other sister and I get pregnant before she gives birth, we'll all be pregnant at the same time! My parents will have tripled their family size after they're all born."
The ultimate goal in life, I thought sarcastically. Increasing family size.
"I'm planning on making matching clothes for all of them," Mamma Bear continued to say. "They'll be so cute!"
I nearly snickered out loud. Did she spend all her time doing domestic housework and crafts? I'd have been willing to bet that the only ambitions she had in life were to watch Days of our Lives while cooking for her husband and to pop 'em out in time with her sisters.
I glanced down at the yarn in my hands. Was I destined to become this as well?
"I hope this line hurries up," Mamma Bear's friend said anxiously. "I promised Paul I'd have dinner ready by the time he got home. I only have a couple hours."
My stomach sank. I wasn't looking forward to being a stay-at-home mom, or even a stay-at-home pregnant wife. I looked back down at the yarn in my hands. In its swirling sunset colors I could see my doom. There I was knitting a baby sweater and cap, quilting baby blankets, stitching posters for the baby's room, sewing Halloween costumes throughout the baby's life, crocheting scarves for when he or she grew up, then repeating the cycle for the grandchildren.
I shook my head. I'd be damned if I let that happen. With a last little defiant wave at Blake while Mamma Bear's back was turned, I gave up my spot in line and returned the yarn to the shelf. Then I walked out of the store, purposefully causing my sneakers to squeak on the linoleum floor.
The urge to go hiking struck me like a brick. I practically ran to my car. As soon as the door was shut I revved the engine loudly, flipped the CD changer to Hollywood Undead, and sped off toward the mountains with the music up as high as it could go. With a sense of glee and rebelliousness coursing through my veins, I left all pieces of domestication behind me. I was through with yarn.