Traumas Be Damned

To get your psyche knitted in macrame for public display is considered an extravagance. But, hey, I’ve tried all the therapy there is. I had to try this.

Her name was Esthermanhim and she didn’t advertise her services. She just hanged her artwork on the windows of her place. That was it. No sign on the porch, no ads on newspapers, no signs on street poles, not even a flyer in the neighborhood supermarket.

Still, sometimes the line in front of her house reached around the corner. And this is why Illia had booked an appointment. She instructed me how to prepare myself. Put on a suit, don’t wear yellow or grey colors, no perfume or cologne, no boots, you’ll need to take off your shoes, and bring flowers.

“Bring flowers? Are we visiting a medium or your grandmother?”

“You want a good looking portrait? Then bring flowers.”

“I don’t know that I care about good looking,” I replied.

“You would be the first.”

Esthermanhim’s house was in one of the up-and-coming neighborhoods of San Francisco. Kids rolling on floaters, drone deliveries, electric charging stations for pets, you name it. A nearby highway had just been buried underground and now this part of town was the destination for all the crypto nouveau riche.

The dozen people in line at Esthermanhim’s house did not look rich, however.

“The standing line is free of charge,” said Illia when she saw my face of confusion.

“I didn’t know that was an option.”

“Don’t be cheap, Bill.”

“Cheap? This is going to cost me two months salary.”

“Really, you are covering for their expenses.”

We arrived to the old Edwardian house just five minutes before our appointment. Artwork hanged from all the bay windows on the front of the house. The mandalas looked like baroque snow flakes one foot in diameter. We walked up the front stairs. At the top a woman first in the line sat on the steps. She looked up as if sizing us up.

“Who is the appointment for?” She asked without much formality.

Illia, unfazed, pointed at me.

“Good,” the woman said. “It should be quick to get your likeness.”

Illia was still laughing when the door opened and we were let in. We were asked to take off our shoes and wait in a narrow hall while the previous customer collected their personal belongings.

“I have a rich inner life,” I said to her.

“Are you still thinking about that?” Illia replied smiling.

Finally the parlor doors opened and we were welcomed to the front room. Esthermanhim had set up her station by the bay window. The wooden contraption looked somewhat like a giant spider laying on her back. Stretched across the spider legs rested a web of white threads.

“This is the blank pattern of your mandala,” Esthermanhim explained. “Once we graft your prefrontal cortex it’ll look nothing like this. Sit down.”

I sat on the chair across from Esthermanhim and took off my hat.

“Now,” she said looking me straight in the eyes, “do you understand that there is a possibility that past traumas will show up on the web?”

“Absolutely.”

“Perfect. Let’s begin then.”

We used the full hour and left with a large mandala made of black wool. As we walked out I made a point of showing the piece to the woman at the top of the stairs with pride. She didn’t say a word but I could tell by the look in her face that she was surprised by its size.

To get your psyche knitted in macrame is considered an extravagance. To display it in public, unaltered, that is unheard of. Still, I understand why people wait in line for hours to get that picture perfect snapshot of their life. Everyone edits their past. They erase the pain, take out all the ugliness, and end up with a neat looking little patchwork to show proudly.

Me? I wanted to leave all my miseries in. I’ve worked too hard through years of therapy to have it all just be edited out now.

This piece is going to look great when I hang it as is.

Traumas be damned.


January 8, 2021




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