組紐 – Kumihimo

Light pink, light purple, light green, and white. Two strings of each are tied together and set up across a white disk that has thirty-two evenly spaced slits around the outer ring.

The colors are beautiful. They aren’t of my choosing – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The top right string moves down, the bottom left moves up. The disk is rotated ninety degrees, and the process repeats almost endlessly, braiding eight strings together into a tidy bracelet. My fingers fly from experience and the simplicity of the movement. In between each rotation I pull on the strings below the disk to tighten the braid, and then I fling the disk a little as I spin it to keep the individual strands from tangling. Time passes. When my fingers and back become sore I take a break to write, and then return to work.

One of these bracelets is already completed. By Friday there will be two more, ready to be tied around the wrists of their new owners, my two closest friends.

Friday scares me. It marks a turning point in our lives – we will have to say goodbye. And like most goodbyes, it probably isn’t forever, but it might well be. I close my eyes and focus on braiding string so that I don’t have to think about what comes next.

Why string? you might think. String is just string.

Well, yes, but no. Our lives have been tied together since we were young, and now we’re making sure they aren’t torn apart. The strings symbolize everything – our friendship, our youth, our suffering, our love. The passage of time, the space between us, the world we have created for ourselves. All of the things we have said and done together, and everything we will now do apart.

Those who live and love depend on symbols like this.

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