Downstairs my neighbors are once again making Panlasang Pinoy garlic fried rice and the scent alone is enough to send me straight to heaven. I like to listen to them in the evenings, laughing and shouting at each other in Tagalog, or on the weekends, waking up early to blast 70’s rock and tend to the lush container garden and fairy lights that have overtaken their patio.
It’s so different from my quiet life lived just a few feet away: dinners of chicken thighs and broccolini, evenings spent reading on the couch, my cold feet tucked up under my husband’s thigh, weekend mornings spent crocheting and quietly making tea while my night owl husband sleeps almost until lunch.
I’ve given myself a hard time for my quiet, simple life. Shouldn’t I be more like my Filipino neighbors? Great big, boisterous parties that end in hilarious attempts at karaoke? First-name relationships with the rest of our small community’s neighbors? Shouldn’t I also be gregarious and outgoing and fun?
It’s taken me a long time to realize the people that have proclaimed my quiet a deficit are wrong. Because the trouble with quiet is that it leaves space for narrative, and it seems most people are quick to pour in their own insecurities.
But my quiet is not your fear or loneliness, it is not evidence of crippling shyness. It is just my quiet. It is the space I create to discover the world on my terms. To listen to the sizzle of the Panlasang Pinoy and breathe the garlic. To learn the botanical loves of my neighbors so that, come Christmas, I can walk downstairs with a plate of cookies and a sweet potted thing to add to their jungled collection.
Sometimes it is the space I create to let my friends gush about their excitement for their upcoming little ones. I feel I learn more this way. Most recently, a friend’s plans for an animal-themed nursery. But the husband wants a few touches of pink because, you know, why can’t a little girl have a little pink?
I use what I learn in my quiet to add to their joy, to amplify the dreams they have for the little girl we’re all eager to meet. In this case, I crochet a sweet, cotton poncho with a little bear hood. Perfect for little ones that fight sleeves despite the cold. And a little pink bear to match. Because every little one should have something soft to cuddle.
I love my quiet space. It’s not what everyone needs, not all the time. But when they do, I’m here. Ready to listen and absorb, and once everything has been processed, to add. Because I want the world to be a kinder, more beautiful place. And this is the way I know how to do it.
Want to make your own? This poncho is a slightly modified version of Marie of Muki Craft’s Teddy Bear Poncho pattern. The bear is a slightly modified version of J.A. Poolvos of Little Bear Crochets’s Bear Amigurumi pattern.