The origami crane, although he is only made of brown paper, showed me some spirit. As I nudged him on the table he seemed to crook his fingerlike beak at me as if to say your turn. How surprising, this invitation to dance, to sink into a rhythm of give and take, to allow this piece of brown paper to draw me out and provoke my mind. I feel my body bow in response, reaching out with a forefinger to spin him around a bit to better take his measure from all sides. He is sharp and pointed. I am soft and round and it stuns me to know that it is my preference to be soft. It is my comfort to be round, to remember the days as a young mother when I would bend low to scoop my child into my arms and feel a sleepy head nestle warmly into the fold of my shoulder, as if our bodies knew instinctively the origami of love.
I study this crane before me, this small bit of paper creased so precisely to be transformed into something more beautiful than the original brown square. But is that true? Is the finished product more wondrous than the original raw material? I want to unfold the crane, to rub my finger and flatten each crease and feel the place from whence he came, to see the raw beauty of him, to see the possibilities, to know his path of growth. What a delight it would be to look over the artist’s shoulder as she carefully folded each fold, sharpened each crease, to watch the formation of a wing or a beak, the intake of breath when a bird finally stood tall. How intimate that would be to perceive each step of his creation,
It is more than the crane. My second marriage has prompted these musings, the wish I could know the beginnings of Tom, to uncover the history of this man who is now my husband. Unlike the crane I can’t unfold him, I can’t know the imprints of each experience he has had; the childhood romps, the young father’s joy and pain, the cowboy riding free, the struggles of business and a former marriage. There is no artist’s shoulder I can peek over. I feel the lack of what happened before me. Does he feel that too? I spin him around in my mind, listening to his songs, enjoying his smile and feeling the whimsy of his laugh. I admire his leadership and passion for the land. When he hugs me I feel the thread of a thousand embraces.
Spinning the crane again I understand that if I unfold this piece of art it will be changed and I still won’t know it as I would like. It can’t ever go back to its smooth, untouched origin and if I try to refold it, no matter how carefully, there will be the tiniest of nuances in each new crease, a trace of a difference. It won’t be quite the same. With a sigh I let go the desire to know what is past. Perhaps that is the most intimate thing to do, to move forward with what I know and love.