Thursday, February 7, 2008

Initial Thoughts

My initial thought was to make my "community" quilt a variation on previous "rooted" quilts I've made. Roots are a more individual aspect, but perhaps the binding between individuals is what makes a community. I sketched a bit with houses bound together, and the idea of binding, or bounding the house(s) with log cabin piecing (more house references). Binding led to weaving, which is a perfectly fiber metaphor. I sketched a woven quilt with houses on each of the woven strips.

Then I got to thinking about my specific situation. Why am I concerned with roots and villages and communities? I am somewhat of a nomad. Not by choice, but by necessity. It's not all bad -- we've had great adventures living across the US and Germany and meeting all sorts of people and seeing all sorts of places because of it. However, I would love to have roots. I'd love to say "here is where I live." The community one finds or makes when one is a nomad is very different from what one has when one has lived in the same town all their lives. I've slowly lost touch with my friends from school. My family has moved away from the city we all grew up in. My military friends and I count on each other for support, but we all know that it it temporary and we will each move on sooner or later. These are friendships based not on common interests, or history, but on being in the same situation. And now that I have lived the better part of the last 11 years in Germany (in three different states, three different cities, and five different homes), I am feeling less and less like an American. I certainly don't fit in with the majority of military family members. I missed 9-11 and I think that will forever set me apart from my compatriots. At the same time, I will never be a German either. There are cultural and lingual barriers that I will never be able to cross, even if I spend the rest of my life here. Ask any non-German living here and they will probably agree.

What that all brings me to is that I would very much like to express in my 12 x 12 quilt the feeling of being in a community without actually belonging to it. I want it to evoke an emotion more than a specific time or place. I'm assuming the more abstract the better. The desire to set down roots is rather easy to express. Exclusion from a community is proving to be more difficult to visualize.


Nikki said...

I picture exclusion for a community as one part being slightly "off." It may be the color, scale or shape is trying to be right, but doesn't hit the mark. I wouldn't think of it as typically in your face like complementary colors, but instead a grayed color among bright clear colors or a warm green among cool blues and greens.

I think that slight sense of not belonging often runs throughout our culture. I know I often feel it and I have lived in the same county my entire life, minus a few years in college. I see community as something people desperatly want, but don't often know how to go about it.

Deborah said...

I totally understand what you're saying! And here I am, no longer a military family and we've been living in the same place for more than two years and no immediate move in sight... and I'm not sure it's what I thought it would be. Such interesting ideas to explore.

Kristin L said...

Have you reached that point, Deborah, where you wonder if now is when you are supposed to do "Spring Cleaning" because in the past you've always moved before it was necessary? Are you needing to rearrange furniture because it's been the same too long. Are you tiring of your aquaintances and thinking "oh, it's time to move and get new ones anyways?" OK, don't answer that last bit, now I may have given away too much of my inner workings.

Nikki's got a good point though, about everyone having this sense of not quite belonging. I think it's like that High School thing where you think you the only one not doing "IT," whatever it may be.

For me though, I think it's less about the color being off as it is about a barrier of some sort between me and the community.

Diane said...

I appreciate your posting your feelings, Kristin. It IS interesting how you have focused on roots as a theme, and it makes perfect sense given your experiences. I have heard many military kids who've grown up to be determined to stay in the same place for their kids' entire childhoods as a reaction to their moving around a lot during their own childhood. In any event, the "outside looking in" idea does provide a lot of challenges, and you're right, it tends to make one want to have a big space to explore it in. I guess we have to think of this like Haiku -- expressing a big idea in a tiny space with the utmost simplicity.