~the following is part of “Prompted Prose,” a series of posts from the prompts I’m working with during my Spring 2016 online writing course
You are gifted a blanket at birth. A crocheted rectangle of comfort, in pinks, and blues, and greens. After two decades, and thousands of washes, it is a tatter of gray, more aptly described as a ‘security blanket’. Unraveling yarn makes gaping holes in its center, but the edges are what matter most. The solace of this blanket comes in the feel of the familiar, textured softness of its edges through your fingers.
Your rhythmic circumnavigation of the blanket, traces the weave through thumb and middle finger, bringing a solace like nothing else. Its comfort outweighs the awareness, that it is a little weird to be twenty and still sleeping with a blankie.
You realize you’ve got an odd attachment to a ragged bit of cloth, and wonder about why the fingering ritual brings so much peace. Then, a revelation. You watch the tracing of rosary and mala beads through the fingers of the devout, realizing you do the same with crocheted string. Your attachment to tactile tracings is suddenly elevated. Perhaps it’s spiritual. Maybe even past life bleed-through. You continue to keep the blanket.
But then you turn 21, and a hippie from the dark side, named “Many Rivers,” (black cape, and hood, and all) steals your gear at a Rainbow Gathering on top of Mount Shasta- his booty includes your borrowed sleeping bag, which had your spiritual security blanket stealthily stashed in the bottom.
You search all over the mountain’s campsites, asking every free spirit you meet if they’ve seen your rag of a rectangle anywhere. And when someone tells you they think they saw it in a pile ready for burning, you run there just in time to find smoldering ashes.
You find a place to be alone. There, you cry. The deep and sorrowful wailing-kind-of-cry (because you are on this mountain to free your soul, and touch the depth of your beingness, so you know that it’s essential to release every ounce of agony). And after the tears have purged several layers of pain, the color of the sky looks different. You notice the wildflowers waving in sunlight. You wipe water from your face with sooty fingernails, and watch butterflies flit through the grasses. Everything seems to be conspiring to this bittersweet moment, your loss some sordid gift, signaling your growth. Through snot and no tissue, you realize your rite of passage: you have graduated to a blanket-free existence, the remains of your pseudo-security, ceremonious ashes on Mount Shasta.