It waited in the furthest recess of a hot attic year after year, content in its jacket of cloudy plastic and covered with a thick layer of dust. It bid its time in a remote cranny, revealed only when the search for boxes of Christmas ornaments probed the secluded hiding spot. Its unwieldy mass was hard to fight from a crouch under the slopped roofline. And so for nearly two decades it survived threats of removal and endured sporadic judgements of its uselessness.
“What is it?” asked my wife peering up from the steps of the pulldown ladder.
“The old rug”
“We still have that? You said you were going to get rid of it.”
The wool carpet, a “gift” from my parents, was unfurled once to admire the colorful design and then bundled away. They told me I should use it as a floor covering or, better yet, display it on a wall to impress guests. It had been woven on a handloom by my father’s mother in her village in Greece almost a hundred years before. Girls of that era would prepare their “prika” -- the dowry that a bride brought to her marriage – as teenagers. It traveled through time from her parental home to her own. It was carried across the ocean to the New Country and ended up here, next to the beach chairs.
It is large enough for two people to simultaneously practice yoga on its scratchy surface. Its motifs of vines, amulets and symbols to ward off the evil eye are unique and the colors vibrant. But none of that appealed to our taste. In fact, it was more of a burden.
I eyed it as unwanted baggage that I couldn’t discard. I’d be a bad son to throw away yiayia’s handmade cultural heirloom, even though my father didn’t care to display it in his own home. It became an obligation foisted upon me. I was left holding the mat. So it moldered in the attic creating only guilt and resentment. For years.
And then an idea snapped into place. I contacted the National Hellenic Museum and offered to donate it. I was surprised at the enthusiasm of the curator. She gushed over the photos I emailed. An exemplary specimen of tapestry-woven art. An exquisite kilim. It would be an honor to accept it into their growing textiles collection and how generous of me. When could I send it?
I imagine someday a young woman might see yiayia’s kilimi on a visit to this delightful museum in Chicago. She’ll admire the skill and dedication of a woman from generations past and be grateful that marriage customs have changed. And maybe she will be inspired to use her creative skills in a novel way. She might cultivate her own artistic vision or to start a business selling home furnishings. Or perhaps she’ll have a new insight into the ways of love.
We don’t know what will happen if we honestly evaluate the contents of our attics for something we’ve been carrying around for years. That stack of National Geographic magazines. An old grudge. The distorted idea that you’ll never make it as a painter or visit Paris or rekindle an old friendship.
Dust it off. Reframe it. Let it go. Give it a new home. It just may benefit someone else. You’ll be happier. And there will be more room for the Bowflex machine.
I have a variety of interests and enjoy sharing my reflections on them here.