Annemarie Catanzaro sees the potential of global conversations every day from her home in Dalian, China. Her current projects include The Bigger Picture on Youtube and a blog called “Waters’ Wakes”, a series of stories shared by people around the world about the way that water impacts their lives. Both are aimed at increasing the variety of voices present in global conversations and challenging the simplicity of our comfort zones.
Winds of Change
by Annemarie Catanzaro
“Isn’t it beautiful?” she trills as I am wrapped tighter around her neck. The wind yanks at my ends, pulling me closer. We stand overlooking craters of rocks jutting out from the ground like giant fingers reaching for the sky. We’ve seen things, she and I. We’ve seen the ocean and the mountains. We’ve stood in the sand of deserts and lakes. We’ve leaned over the edges of the tallest buildings in the world. I’ve been dipped in soup and dragged on the floor, always accidentally of course. My edges have been carefully tucked in when she leaves me behind. I crowd closely with her other outerwear sharing the great many things we’ve seen and secretly seething that we weren’t on this particular journey.
I’ve never been brought out on the days when the sun beats down, although her goggles continue in a never-ending soliloquy on the joys of exploring the Dead Sea. I stay safely hidden on the long flights to new lands, but her socks have lots to share about all of the small clues left beneath the airplane seats. They think they know best about the world, but, in the end, compression is not comprehension.
I’ve been tossed by the swells of wind in the Grand Canyon. I’ve been swung side-to-side by the turbulence of misty ocean winds. I’ve been tickled by the whisper of a breeze entering through the doors of a cable car. I’ve been whipped around by wind burrowing through canyon walls.
She chose me for these days—and for the day when she quickly ran down the hall of Home to catch a car. I was whipped around her as she dived out the door and into the taxi. One small piece of me poked out of the car door living the dash through the busy city streets. We arrived at the opera house where I was lambasted with song.
She chose me for that day.
She chose me for today too. She murmured praise about my colors matching well for photos as she shifted through the luggage. I beamed secretly, happy that the other clothes could hear. Even though I often matched, it was important to bask in the moments of favoritism before the next day when I would be shoved back deep down into the bag. This would be yet another story to punctuate the socks’ and goggles’ never-ending tales.
I relish every gust as she poses for picture after picture. She is alone with us garments, using a long stick to find the best angle with her phone. Other travelers generously offer to take her picture. She tilts her head and spreads her arms so that the sun reflects me and all of my silky colors bloom before the camera. The travelers pause for a moment looking at the photo, doubtlessly admiring me, before handing it back. With the evidence secured, we are ready to go.
When we reach the hotel, I hold onto all of the smells of the wind. Her flight home is today and I know that the more these smells cling to me, the longer she will keep me out and breathe in the memories. She hangs me on the door’s convenient built-in hook so that she won’t forget me as she rushes around the room packing her bag. When she is ready to leave and tilts the bag over, heaving it through the small hallway, it is suddenly too large to fit through the doorway. I watch as she struggles to balance the large, heavy bag and pop the door open at the same time. With a yawn and a grunt, she opens the door, rolls her bag out and closes the door behind her.
It clicks closed and, still hanging on the hook, I wait.
I continue to patiently wait.
Something has gone wrong. I am on the wrong side of the door. I wait, still, annoyed. The bag has been removed; her shoes are gone. She is gone, and, yet, I am here. What does this mean? At reception, she will lightly touch her neck, cry out, and run back upstairs to reclaim me. She will hold me tightly to herself shaking from the thought of having left me behind.
She doesn’t come.
Finally, after the light in the room changes, the door clicks open. Finally! I relax, allowing every fiber to shiver away the taut despair that had captured me. I try to peek around the edge of the door with the faint motion of it gently swaying closed.
It’s not my person. It’s…
A small older woman, whose dark hair is tightly bound to the top of her head and whose neck is bare of any silky social marker, rolls in a vacuum, completely blind to me. I tense at the sight, remembering how my person would always pull us closer when she saw the locals of the country that we were in. If I were not a scarf, I would be rigid.
She spends an hour vacuuming, polishing, and washing. I watch and wait for the door to open once more. I must be retrieved.
The woman is on the floor, on her hands and knees – something I have never seen my person do before. She puts her hand against the wall and leans into it as she slowly pulls her knees out from beneath her, standing up.
That’s when she sees me. I see the flash of surprise. She looks around and quickly grabs me, rushing forward into the hallway. Good! I purr. They will call my person and she will come back from the airport to claim me. The speed with which we run slows and my ends drop down to hang in front of the woman. She is breathing heavily and leans against the wall. In this pause, she turns her eyes to me, rubbing me softly between her fingers. She drops one hand down and reverently wraps me around the other. I am not used to being touched by hands which have recently been drenched in bleach, but I will allow it on this day. If this is the cost to finding my way back, then fine. She runs her fingers down to my ends and takes in the radiant colors that emanate off of me. As she finishes wrapping me around her right hand, she lays her other arm against the wall and begins quickly, anxiously tapping. What is wrong with this woman? She’s wasting time! The tapping stops. She takes in a deep breath.
With a sudden jolt she unceremoniously shoves her hand, and therefore me, into her pocket. I feel her other hand reach inside and gently smooth me off. In the twist of movement, I am disoriented. It feels like we turn back to the room- Why would we—? Everything remains black with the only clues to my fate riddled in the wheel and whir of the vacuum cleaner. I hear words garbled in another tongue—not the one my person spoke.
The next time I see light, it is the brightly colored glow of neon signs in darkness. I am held reverently once again and stroked under the multi-colored moonbeams.
This is not the hotel where we stayed. The residue of bleach continues to sharply sting me from the hands of this silhouette in the dark.
Thief! I want to cry out as I am limply carried down the streets filled with rubble and past the carts filled with street food. I belong with her! I belong on the road with the wind and the canyons and the adventure. Not in your filthy hands. The screams rattle my fibers, but I remain paralyzed by her gentle grasp. I only fold back slightly with the rushed breeze as I am carried further away from ever returning to the bag again. Desperately, I race through options of salvation. My person has photos of me around her neck and around the world on Instagram. The police will track my image from there and barge through the door of this criminal. People begin greeting my carrier more frequently. Call the police! I cry.
We enter through a door. There is no click, only the slide of a latch. She carries me into a room and wipes off the bed before laying me down reverently. She moves quickly around the room; her actions are all filled with nervous excitement. I watch and, somewhere deep inside, realize with guilty glee that I will never need to hear goggles’ story about the Dead Sea again.
The woman leaves the room for a moment and returns with a dry piece of newspaper. She lifts me carefully before folding it around me.
The darkness helps time to pass faster. Soon, I awaken to wisps of light as the newspaper is unfolded. A shrill shriek escapes a teenager as she pulls me quickly and softly from my newspaper cave. I am whisked in circles around the room and she wraps me around her neck eagerly. She runs to a small broken mirror and strikes pose after pose, lifting and dropping me while chattering incessantly to the older woman.
The older lady’s hair is down now and she smiles silently and broadly. Her gaze feels like the wind that runs up from canyon walls and gently floats you.
I smile as well, or I would if I could, when the teenager runs into another room and drags in a small boy to increase the size of her audience.
We see things, she and I. Every day I am worn out into the world. Every day I am whisked through markets and schools. We create wind as we run and pass by air filled with stories of spices and scandal. Every day I am carefully unwound from the young neck at the table and placed gently into her lap. The steam from the kitchen and gentle breeze from an opening front door tickles my ends as my people speak of their dreams. I am never dipped in soup and never dragged on the ground. I no longer am dropped on marble floors or knotted around railings, since I am never too bright for a picture.
Each night, I am gently hung from a hanger next to the door. A slow hand runs down me, admiring my colors. It is the gentle hand of the older woman, my rescuer, after she comes in to share words of love and delight.
With all of the movement and life in this world, I begin to fray, but I know joy like I have never seen before. My girl and I aren’t in many pictures, but we are never alone. I am never crammed into the dark and forgotten. I am never forgotten again.
I am never forgotten.
Copyright 2018 by Annemarie Catanzaro