Retirement Gift

At the start of my life as a weaver, well, actually a bit before that when I wasn't weaving much but trying to imagine what life would look like as a maker as opposed to an office worker, I had a couple of lists which I kept for a couple of years. One was a list of words/phrases I hoped would describe my weaving: elegant, exquisite, expensive-looking, fine threads... I don't remember much else, but it had up to a dozen words; I occasionally changed it, and I occasionally ran a mental check of a planned project to see if some of the words applied. I didn't cancel the plan even if it didn't, because "fit for purpose" was a higher priority, but it gave me a vague sense of direction or "shape" in this brave new world where every single decision was mine. 
Another list was scenes/occasions I imagined where my pieces would appear. Birthday/holiday present, collage graduation present, first-paycheck/Thanks-Mom present, wedding present, anniversary present 10th vs 20th, (because back then I thought being married for 20 years was such a big occasion towards, ahem, the end of one's life!) And then it got more involved: 
* Is this a date or isn't it? - First walk on the beach; she is wrapped in a not-new piece; emotional shield??
* Work night date - urban scene; she is running in heels and work suit; dusk, possibly raining; a special night for a professional couple. 
* Couch/TV - First staying-in date. Rom-com? Foreign language? Conspiracy? SciFi? Who's choice?
* Couch/foot rub - another big family celebration successfully hosted; everybody's gone home; dishes done; vacuuming tomorrow. Watching and not watching late-late-night B-movie, quietly together, but basking in the moments of the day separately.
* Dignity/Nostalgia - nicely dressed older woman at the head of a long table on a family occasion, possibly autumn, wearing a piece given to her many years ago. Does it look somewhat dated, or ageless? Widow??? 
You get the picture. I had loads of these vivid pictures, and they not only helped me plan, but made all the steps in weaving fun, because I could see and feel the cloth. Now that I've written about it, I have got to return to this method, rather than getting bogged down with values and drafts and such which feels all so... impersonal. 

Anyhoo, I was in my early 40s and the majority of protagonists were... 30s/40s, and their bodies were lighter and spirits brighter. 

In the decade I sold my work through galleries, gallerists were very kind in letting me know whatever they knew about the purchasers, and in some cases, their purposes. I discovered many were as souvenirs from New Zealand, either for themselves or someone else, so I started specifying "NZ wool" and "NZ merino". Besides, my prices are more affordable when converted to many foreign currencies.

Of the pieces purchased by Kiwis though, via galleries or from me directly, an overwhelming majority have been as leaving/retirement presents, and those responsible for purchases representing a group, the inquiries/correspondences are slightly more involved. And I love it! I get to share a little bit about how I designed it, the characteristics of the cloth, (you know me, "sleeping baby", "big dog leaning on your leg", "wet". That stuff.) It's so hard not to be too gushy. And now I've reached retirement age had I stayed in office jobs, I have been feeling an especially warm connection to purchasers looking for retirement presents. 

A recent purchase was for a nurse who started working right after she finished nursing school. I picture a woman about my age. I picture her working at a selfless, honorable job while I was fluffing around at college, fluffing around at office jobs, and fluffing around at home experimenting with "being a weaver". But most of all, I think of the last three horrendous years at the end of her career. And not just her, but her colleagues, the entire profession, including the person who got in touch with me after an image search. It's been a very humbling few days.
Retirement; not retirement; retirement.

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