Student crochets his way out of conjunctivitis

Image courtesy of Luke Jenkins ’26.

College, like any other period or place in time, is marked by a series of highs and lows. One such low for me (one could even say rock bottom) took place in the parking lot of Jo-Ann Fabrics. There I sat—in the hot vinyl seats of my friends’ Subaru Outback—both eyes red, swollen and  crusted shut. Not from crying, but from conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, an infection normally relegated to eleven-year-olds with the hygiene habits of sewer rats. What does one do when they’re at their lowest low, sweating in the parking lot of Spackenkill’s favorite craft store? It’s an age-old saying: When you’re at rock bottom, there’s no way to go but up. And up I went. Well, out I went. I solemnly marched through the slow sliding doors and blaring fluorescent light to distract myself with an old interest of mine: crocheting.

Interest, however, is a strong word. While I had indeed crocheted before, I had never managed to complete anything. You never would have seen me sporting my own crocheted top, worried that one good gust of wind would expose my chest to the autumnal breeze. I never ripped off a pair of gloves that itched me to tears or showed off a scarf that neither warmed my neck nor allowed me to breathe. This winter, however, all that would be mine.

My yarn of choice was a thin lettuce-green, my crochet hook five millimeters in diameter. I rushed to pick them from Jo-Ann’s aisles, touching as little as I possibly could, before hurrying back to my Raymond double. There I sat, YouTube open, toiling over tying a slip knot, crocheting my first line, and then my second, with the final goal of a long, thin scarf in mind. After an afternoon of work, between eye drops and pills, my pink eye was rapidly improving. My crocheting was not. The number of stitches in each row was slowly receding, to the point where my scarf was more like a pennant than anything else. Not happy with this segway into flag-making, and the tinge of redness still frolicking around my cornea, I deployed my final coping mechanism: sleep.

To my surprise, my eyes had cleared up when I woke up that morning. I slowly forgot about the emotional low I had hit. One thing still bothered me about that odd October afternoon, though. The ugly green pennant still sat on my desk, mocking me as I washed and changed my bedsheets, typed away at my computer and returned my eye drops to the drawer. Not surrendering, not waving the white flag, I restarted on my scarf. Crocheting line after line, incredibly slowly. When I noticed my project was thinning, I added a few stitches, desperate not to create a triangular shape. The result was definitely not angular, but curved, crimped and hideous. My friend chimed in: Just like its hue, my scarf looked like lettuce. 

This lettuce scarf, while not even completed, is a blaring reminder of why I should be grateful for my return to good health, and a testament to the resiliency one hopefully gains after being dropped off like a sack of potatoes at these gates. Every student should have their own metaphorical produce-inspired garment. An object, an experience, that serves as an example of their own hardiness, their own out-grown stupidity, a nice reminder to be grateful for how lucky we are to be here, in good health, out of rock bottom.

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