Mum and I spent endless childhood summer weeks staying in my grandparent’s small, cozy flat in London. I always looked forward to spending time there, particularly with my grandfather. The flat was different from our home on the north shore of Long Island and I was a kid who lapped up and enjoyed diverse environments.
The front door of the flat would slam as mum headed out at what she called ‘the shriek of dawn’ to go to Bermondsey antique market. It was only 5 am and I’d go back to sleep. I loved her returning with show-and-tell treasures, especially when they included a new-to-me Rupert Annual.
One constant in my life has been reading. I gobbled down just about everything. In the US, I was a fixture at the library, but there were none nearby in London. Mum had to keep me supplied.
These decade-old Rupert Annuals not only contained stories. There were codes to crack and games to play.
There was also origami.
I spent what seemed like hours sitting at the drop-leaf table in the living room, pieces of crumpled paper scattered around and my jaw set. I was going to make that origami lily if it took me all day and I didn’t get outside.
When I finally mastered it, I couldn’t stop making them. They were a calling card of mine – for years, I whipped them up at the drop of a hat.
I never did take origami any further. Perhaps my jaw was too set!
This morning, I was pondering love and Valentine’s Day, as one does, when making an origami lily for my husband floated through my mind.
Would I remember how to do it? I hadn’t made one in decades.
Nervously I sat down, paper and fingers poised.
I took a deep breath as I blinked my eyes closed and open.
My fingers started their work and without thinking, they automatically started working I was surprised at how they took on a life of their own. As if they were detached, I watched as my fingers picked up the pristine piece of paper and began – diagonal fold one way and then the other.
Next, the most extraordinary thing happened.
My fingers turned over the piece of paper, to make folds on the other side.
I froze. I paused.
I never would have remembered I needed to turn over the paper. Talk about muscle memory.
I sat in wonder, the finished flower sitting before me as it had done so many times before. When I gave it to my husband, it was like giving him another part of me, one forgotten and rediscovered with new eyes.
As we go through life, we grow, change and evolve. We see the same things differently, through the lens of new experiences. At the same time, deep inside there’s a core person. There’s the child persevering with origami and she’s the same yet different from the woman looking down at an origami flower, made by muscle memory for the husband she loves.