My car trunk is brimming with things I don’t need.
My baby is no longer a baby.
My house is cluttered.
My neck is bare on this blustery morning.
I’m on my way to purge the trappings of a babyhood gone by.
Along the way I meet a woman with a beautiful scarf.
It is so beautiful I stop to tell her how much I like it.
So she unwinds it from around her neck, unfurling its swirled colorfulness. It’s like a great butterfly flapping about in this autumn landscape.
Keep it, she says.
Oh, no, I couldn’t, I reply.
You must have it, she insists, it complements your dress.
We dance this way a few times before I lift it from her open hands.
An unexpected outcome.
Awkwardly I cradle its cottony softness. I listen as this woman tells me the story of the scarf.
She created it and many others. She sells them. She has so many scarves, giving one away is nothing.
What’s your craft, she asks, because these days it seems everyone has some special gift.
I’m not sure yet, I admit.
We part with a handshake and a promise that I will visit her store. As I walk to my car I slip the wings of turquoise, indigo and emerald over my shoulders. The colors caress my neck and cheeks as the wind tugs the scarf’s fringed ends.
On the way to the community outreach center in a scrappy part of Detroit, I steal glances of it in the mirror while stopped at red lights.
As I heft the stroller, car seat, safety gates, and bags of odds and ends onto the curb, the wind slaps my hair and face. I pull the scarf tighter around my neck, up to my chin.
It’s not that I needed another scarf. I have a closet full, a veritable rainbow of neck coverings. But I don’t have a scarf like this one.
This is an extravagance. This is a serendipitous scarf.
I start thinking about giving spontaneously. It’s one thing to hand off used items to charity. It’s quite another to relinquish something new and hand-made. I consider the idea that I am free advertising for her work. I also acknowledge that I meet creators of beautiful things all the time and I don’t walk away with freebies.
I think some more about how much easier it is to give than it is to receive. Or is it the other way around?
It’s hard to receive randomly, to quiet the barrage of inner questions that follow the gifting moment.
I wonder what of mine I will give to a stranger.
My trunk is empty.
My heart is warm.
My mind is racing.