I hate sewing buttons. I suppose that makes me a poor candidate for home maker of the year, but I can’t help it. The button holes are far too small and the needles are much too sharp and I’m left with index fingers dotted with red pin prick marks.
My winter coat is a wonderful coat with one notable exception: the buttons fall off by the dozen. Fall off is not an adequate description, perhaps. More like escape or abandon ship. I honestly believe I can hear them giggle gleefully as they triumphantly break free of their threaded bonds.
I’ve sewn these buttons on many times before but with poor results in the long run. After continued discouragement, I chose to simply forgo my annual appointment with the thread and needle and instead leave them to sit in my coat pocket together to think about what they had done. Meanwhile, my coat only buttoned halfway. It was a sorry sight indeed.
Over winter break, I decided amidst all of my laying around and doing nothing, I should sneak in a productive endeavor such as sewing buttons. I sat there for a full hour and kept sewing and sewing and sewing. I kept the black thread rolling and I refused to quit until each button was securely fastened. We’re talking about a LOT of thread here. A lot.
I was very pleased with myself afterwards and I couldn’t help but show my mother my handiwork with pride. However, as I began to button up my coat, I came to a horrifying conclusion. While I had sewn the buttons in the right place to fill the holes, each button sat either too close together or just far enough apart so that the coat bunched and pulled in minute ways that only I would notice.
There have been a lot of mismatched buttons in my life. Majors that seemed right in my head but just didn’t feel right in my heart. There have been loss of friendships, endings of activities and unfinished novels on my shelf. There have been adjustments and careful placements. Worry and heartache. Uneasiness and the subtle feeling that something was missing. Above all, the purpose of a button is not to merely close a coat; there is a perfect placement for each button that allows the coat to close perfectly. Perfect buttons like an English Language major and classes that teach me about Phonetics, best friends who helps me look for Gilmore Girls DVDs I accidentally throw under their bed, family members who listen to all of my future plans, and a boyfriend who quotes T.S. Eliot to prove his point in an argument and takes me to French International Films on the weekend.
It’s not that the other buttons were wrong or unusable. In fact, I might have gone through life quite easily thinking that life was the best it would ever be. All it would take is a little adjustment. A new thread in the needle. Ah, there it is. Perfect fit.