Published: March 26th 2011March 26th 2011
The Baby Blanket
While living in Honduras I traveled to Guatemala over Christmas break. I visited a very small town, known amongst travelers for its huge craft market. Chichicastenego consisted of a church, a plaza and a market to rival any I’ve seen. I had been waiting to visit it. I had saved my money and not been foolish buying other trivial trinkets along the way because I knew this was the place to do my shopping. I had a list in my head of what I would buy for myself and the friends and family I had back in the states.
I wandered up and down the long, narrow aisles, admiring the handmade purses, skirts, scarves, sandals, finger puppets and other various nick knacks. I took my time walking through the entire market once before I even though to purchase anything. I haggled with the different sellers over price and quality. I took inventory in my head of the various styles and colors I liked. I noted the stands I would return to to finally purchase my goods.
As I wandered, my eyes were often draw to the various vibrantly colored baby blankets I passed. Each one of them seemed to tell a different story, each one painstakingly detailed and brilliant. They were not on my list of things to get; for whom would I get a baby blanket? Yet I could not take my mind off of them as I walked about.
I finally bought the various purses and scarves I had come there to get. But I was hesitant to leave. Next to the last stall I had made purchases at, was a stale full of baby blankets hanging from high above. They looked like someone was hanging them out to dry in the sun. I stood and admired them. One in particular caught my eye.
It was 4x4 feet, and contained all the brilliant colors of the rainbow. It had twelve squares all depicting various scenes from the country. The center square showed two young girls weaving a hammock. Others showed the Guatemalan national bird, the Quetzal, also the national currency. While others yet, showed the sun setting over Lago Atitlan.
I tried to rationalize buying it. No one I knew was having a baby. I wasn’t having a baby anytime soon, or ever as it may turn out to be. Why did I need a baby blanket? But it didn’t seem to matter. I had somehow already determined that I would not be leaving Chichicastenego without that blanket; even though it was my most expensive purchase, even though it wasn't on my meticulous list, and even though it was seemingly without purpose.
Months later, while still living in Honduras, I received news of my brother’s engagement. Ok, I thought, this must be why I bought the blanket. Soon they would have kids and I could give it as a gift from their aunt. This made sense to me, and I believed it for a long while. I would love to share this beautiful blanket with my new niece or nephew, I thought. Until, in fact, they did have kids. Two kids, neither to which was I ready to give the blanket.
So, the blanket moved back with me to the states. It sat in boxes in closets of the various places I have lived since then. I told myself I would hang it in the guest room where I displayed my other travel mementos. But a baby blanket just always seemed to me to belong in a baby's room. There the colors and images would excite and entertain a small infant.
Occasionally I take it out to admire it. I dig into the box in the back of the closet. I take out the blanket and carefully unfold it. It is only lately that I have begun to let myself understand that I bought the blanket for a child of mine.
It is only now, now that I have met the man with whom I would want to have that child. Now that I have decided to stay in one place for a while. Now that it might actually be a possibility. Now that it is getting very late. Now, I realize, what I could not have then, what I always did know without speaking it out loud. What I always wanted without letting myself want it.
Sometimes we have a way of pushing down the thoughts that might be too difficult, or too demanding for us to deal with right now so that we can continue on with the day to day. But sometimes, also, we have a way of reminding ourselves without being too aware of it; without it being too pushy. Sometimes, there are subtleties in life we might be better off paying attention to. Sometimes, you hold onto things for no apparent reason, only to discover you were holding onto your self.