Believe it or not, I can remember the day clearly. Surrounded by all kinds of fabrics, what seemed like millions of buttons, and spool upon spool of thread, I had only just gotten started. The stuff was scattered everywhere, and I had no idea how anyone could navigate their way around it all, but somehow, whenever I asked for a certain thing, the middle-aged man knew how to find it. That’s right, the seamstress was a guy. What should I have called him? A seam-er? That’s one thing that initially drew me to this place. Guys and girls didn’t fit my stereotype. How surprised was I when I found out that the metal shop owner, hands covered and caked with grease, was a woman. She, however, thought nothing of it. Back to the seamstress’ kiosk. I had just watched the movie “The Piano”, and I felt inspired to have a period shirt made. Then, one of those moments hit me. When I speak in Chinese, I typically think in Chinese. It’s often like thinking in black and white, or in good or bad, for lack of a better vocabulary, but it’s in Chinese nevertheless. Occasionally, I have to switch back to English, to gather my thoughts, and translate directly. Then it smacked me in the face. I just couldn’t articulate what was on my mind in any language, let alone Chinese. Now I’ve found myself in that exact situation many times since then, but that time stands out in my mind.
It was like the first time I had a drink of Calvados. I thought I had experienced every type of liquor out there, but no, not this apple juice from the gods. Despite my troubles, a couple of days later, I had my hands on my new awesome shirt. I felt like I was one of those dudes on a car restoration television show. I almost shed a tear at the sight of this shirt. After that memorable experience, I decided to get tons of other stuff custom made. It wasn’t like I was spending my time shopping for groceries, or cooking at home or anything. I got wall sconces made, a hand carved mahogany box done, many other different kinds of clothing sewn, and one of the coolest Halloween costumes I’d ever worn, put together. Nowadays, I’ve got to go a little farther outside of town to find a custom shop, but they are still around. Isn’t that the beauty of living around here? When people ask me what it was like to live here years ago, I simply reply that it was like a town just a couple of hours away is now. Or the future? Just go to a bigger city, and it can be seen there. Either that or you could just visit an astrologer. And what better a time than now is it to find a star gazer. Welcome, year of the goat. May you be able to customize all of the things you can’t even say.
by Tim Hoerle