A Common Thread

Life is pain

Lisa Renee


Photo by Roma Kaiuk on Unsplash

My back hurts. It’s because I’m an aging biped, according to almost everything, but it’s also because of the long car ride. Given that I continue to age and will hopefully be walking on two feet for the foreseeable future, there’s not much relief in sight. It seems like a midlife thing, but I was in my 20s when I first experienced back pain. Working at a museum, where I maneuvered giant drawers of pre-Columbian textiles all day, I tweaked something and couldn’t move. It got so bad, I went to a doctor who talked about posture and gave me exercises. It improved quickly and seemed like a blip, but it was a forewarning.

I secreted a tiny, loose red thread from one of those textiles into my pants pocket and felt a nervous thrill about it for years. The most criminal thing I’ve ever done (except for drugs and everyone does that). It was a whisper, nearly dust, and sat on the tip of my finger like a slim thread of blood. I kept it, along with some road glass from a shattered windshield, in a little metal box that my ex-husband found in a dying man’s house. I used to visit the ancient thread regularly, wondering about the women who touched it thousands of years ago.

Perhaps my theft offended gods and now my back hurts, but my tiny metal box seems no worse than the dark drawers of that basement museum department: The Art of Africa, Oceania, and the