Weighed down, worn out. Too much stress, too much mundane, and far too many unanswered questions. Sometimes it just happens. Somehow you take a wrong turn and end up somewhere awful, dark and dreary. It wasn’t on purpose, you didn’t mean to. But you suddenly find yourself walking through endless caverns, an impossible labyrinth, terrible, and so lonely. And nothing ever changes. Each door you pass through leads you into a room identical to the one you were just in. They’re all the same, and soon you loose track of how many empty rooms have come and gone.
Shadows skitter about, crawling up the walls, hiding in the corner of your eye. All around you hear whispers telling you there’s a way out, there’s hope and light and goodness waiting for you, you just have to find it. But each turn you take leads you further into the darkness, the air becomes thicker with despair, and you become completely convinced that hope is just an illusion. It’s the poison apple. Its beauty is false, taunting, and ultimately destroys you.
In short, it’s really quite unpleasant, one of the worst things there is, suffering from depression and anxiety. But, anyone could’ve told you that. You don’t need to hear it from me. Besides, I’m not here to write about sadness and gloom. That wouldn’t really do anyone too much good. So, instead, I’m here to tell you about the day things started to change. I’m here to tell you about the day something different finally happened.
Left, right, left, right, left, left, left again, right, left, right, left, right. These are the turns I usually take when I head out for a walk, when I need to clear my head, when I feel so lost, and when it seems like I can’t get out of the endless tunnels and caverns that run through my mind. Left out the door down the driveway, right onto the street, left at the corner, right onto the quiet road with the rolling hills. I’ve taken all these lefts and rights so often, my feet just seem to know the route now, and I don’t even have to think about when to turn or where to walk.
I’d been feeling particularly troubled, and it was starting to take its toll. So one morning I laced up my sneakers, slipped on my sunglasses and bounced down the front steps headed out for a much needed, head-clearing walk. The sun and the soft breeze seemed to instantly energize me, and I moved along the street confidently and easily, as if the world around was made just for this kind of walk. The anxiety didn’t exactly disappear while I was outside, but it always seemed so much easier to think. Maybe I couldn’t find my way out of my labyrinth, but I could at least take a break from running around madly in it to try and sort things out. A little fresh air and some pleasant sunshine provided a nice escape from myself.
As I went down my road, I looked up through the canopy of bright green leaves toward the sky. I’ve noticed that if you ask some people to describe the sky a lot of them will tell you it’s blue (or perhaps grey on those rainy, gloomy days). And it’s true, more often than not, that if you look at the sky briefly, you will indeed see blue. But, if you look at the sky the right way, you’ll see so much more. Sometimes you’ll see a soft baby blue sky, with long wisps of clouds slowly meandering across the horizon. Such a calmness in this kind of sky makes the whole world slow down a bit. Other times, you might see a rich, dodger blue sky, dotted with big, white, fluffy clouds that almost seem to be inviting you to come play. Still other times you might look up and see the deepest of azures, with no clouds in sight; a sky that looks so swimmable, you can’t take your eyes off it. Each day the sky is different and it’s one of the many things I tend to think about when I’m out walking.
As I strolled along, deep in thought, I stopped paying much attention to the direction I was going. Vaguely I glanced across the typically empty street before I took my first turn, then gazed absentmindedly down the road as I reached the corner. It wasn’t until I had walked several feet before I realized I hadn’t taken a left, as I usually would have. I stopped in my tracks and thought about where I was going. Turning left would’ve taken me downhill, along the path I knew so well. But turning right, which my feet had apparently decided to do while I wasn’t looking, took me up a steep hill, a path I’d traveled very infrequently. I stood there for a moment trying to decided if I should turn back and take the route I knew better. After a bit of internal dialogue, I decided to just keep going this new direction, uphill. In the end I figured “Why not?”
Moving slowly but steadily up the formidable hill, I soon reached the top, and was pleased to see the road begin to level out. Not having been up this way recently, I took in the layout of this quiet neighborhood. Houses dotted the landscape here and there, each one boasting enormous front lawns that seemed to stretch on for miles, all covered in the brightest, perfectly trimmed, green grass that was gently rustled by the breeze. All was quiet, and the further along I went, the further apart the houses seemed to get. I walked on for several minutes, enjoying the peace and tranquility. Eventually I encountered a narrow street jutting out to my right. I dimly remembered that there was a long curving street that met up somewhere along this road that, if taken, would end up leading back toward my starting point. Assuming this was that very street, I turned down it, continuing my meandering.
Lush trees decorated the sides of this road, blanketing the ground with the dancing shadows of the leaves. I was beginning to notice there seemed to be very few, if any houses along this street, when I suddenly spotted a large white sign up ahead. As I neared it I was able to clearly make out the words. It read simply:
Welcome to Inkfish Park
The sign sat firmly in the ground, and looked as if it had for many years. The letters were slightly faded, but they still managed to look bright and happy, welcoming. Underneath the sign laid a perfect circle of bright red mulch, and around the base of each of the sign’s two legs small yellow and blue flowers nested.
Even though it had been a long time since I had been down this way, I couldn’t remember ever coming across any kind of park, especially one with such an unusual name. But since I wasn’t too far from home I saw no harm in perusing the grounds. I was out walking to get away from the stress of life, and what better way than to stroll through a quiet park?
The narrow road I had started on continued to wind and curve, surrounded now by trees and flowers and grass, and even a few small ponds teeming with fish and frogs and all sorts of life. I had just been wishing I had my camera with me, when I spied up ahead a few park benches set up along the edge of the road. All of the benches were empty, save one. On this one bench sat a large, orange blob of some kind. As I walked closer, curious to determine what this was, I was stunned to find that the orange blob was in fact a squid. Even more stunned was I, though, to find that it was a living breathing and really quite depressed looking squid. It sat there, completely deflated, drooped so low over itself. Its enormous, shiny, dark brown eyes glinted in the light. There was such a sadness in them though, I felt a sudden and strong pang of empathy. I knew what it felt like to be that sad, for whatever reason. And no one, nothing, should ever have to be that way.
Ignoring all common sense completely, I walked carefully toward the miserable little creature. He sat near the edge of the bench, which left room for me on the other side. He sighed heavily as I gently sat down. I uttered a tentative “Hi,” not sure if I’d get any kind of response. To my delight, though, he replied with a “hello” of his own. Although, it was laced with such dejection, I nearly started crying. Still, for my first ever conversation with a squid, this was going remarkably well so far.
Making my naturally soft voice seem even softer somehow, I questioned him, asking what was wrong. Without hesitation, he told me: “I’m lonely,” he said. I nodded understandingly, as I told him I knew what that felt like. He gave me a sideways glance. “You do?” I nodded again. “Mmhm. It’s terrible to be lonely,” the full weight of my own sadness filled my words. “It is,” he sighed again. “Terrible. I mean, no one ever looks at a squid and thinks ‘hey, he looks cuddly, I bet he’d love a hug’ or ‘he looks like he could use a friend, I’ll go talk to him.” He paused for a moment, and glanced at me again. “Well… usually,” he added carefully. He looked at me now as if seeing me for the first time, a bit of curiosity lightening up his glossy eyes. “Sometimes it’s sad being a squid,” he said, looking directly at me this time. “You’re not a squid,” he said, straightening up ever so slightly, scrutinizing me a bit. I had no idea what expression might be written on my face. “But I think you know what it’s like.” he said, in a strangely discerning way.
Of all the things I had ever pictured myself doing on any given day, bonding with a large orange squid on a park bench was most certainly not anywhere among the scenarios I’d conjured. But that is exactly what was happening.
I thought about what he said, and, although I didn’t know what it was like to be a squid (a fact I’m thankful for, now that I think of it) I realized I did know what he meant.
Not wanting to forget my manners, I decided I’d better introduce myself, and give him my name. “Hugo,” he replied, his demeanor having made a marked improvement since we began conversing. And so there we sat, Hugo and I, just chatting away as if we’d been friends for ages. He told me all about his life, and I found myself telling him all about mine. I learned he was terrified of Japanese restaurants and loved to read; he learned that I liked to solve problems and that I worried about being alone. He loved to count things and watch the sky; I loved to listen to music and daydream. We talked for quite a long time on that bench. By the time the sun began to set we each had a new friend, and I knew we’d both be leaving that quiet park in slightly higher spirits than when we had entered. We each still had things we would be sad about; such things can’t always be fixed in a single day. But it didn’t matter all that much, because I realized that when you focus on trying to make someone else feel better, sometimes it gives you a little bit of hope yourself.
As the first signs of nightfall started to appear, I stood up and stretched. Hugo yawned, stretched a bit, too, and then thanked me for coming to sit next to him. I smiled at him in return. I had a feeling that I might never see Hugo again, but I also had a feeling that meeting him was one of the most important things I could’ve done. “It’s nice to know that even when you think you’re completely alone, someone might just come walking up to let you know you’re not,” he said thoughtfully. At that I crouched down to his level and gave him a quick hug, remembering one of the first things he’d said had been making him sad – ‘no one ever looks at a squid and thinks ‘he looks cuddly, I bet he’d love a hug’. His incredibly shiny dark eyes widened in surprise before a tremendous smile stretched across his face. He then flung his two gangly arms around me, giving me another hug. Hugging a squid, I found, was just like hugging a warm jar of grape jelly, only, with no jar. I chuckled and hugged him back. He smiled at me, genuinely happy to have made a new friend that day. I could tell it was not something that had happened to him often before, and I realized, it wasn’t exactly a common occurrence for me, either. We then said our goodbyes and each moved off on our separate ways just as a few distant street lamps flickered to life, signaling all that the sun had set and the evening had arrived.
I knew there was a good chance sooner or later all the stress I’d been under would come back around and make things difficult again. As much as I wished it, I knew things didn’t always have quick fixes. But right then, at that moment, things were okay. I had done something nice for a sweet little squid who just needed a friend. I had made someone happy, someone who had been sad before I arrived. I would let that thought comfort me for as long as I needed. And with that, I walked back home.
My mind tends to wander, and it often travels to very unusual places. Half the time I can’t even try to explain my train of thought. This is one of those times. Actually, I don’t even know what it was that lead me to it, but several months ago I thought of a sad orange squid sitting on a park bench saying: “No one ever looks at a squid and says ‘hey, he looks cuddly, I think I’ll give him a hug.” And from that, this story was built. These days whenever I come up with a story, I like to create amigurumi to go with it. So, I present to you my cephalopods:
I was walking though the yarn aisle at the store a while back and I saw this pinkish-purple color that is such a gem of a hue, no photograph could do it justice. I plucked the skein off the shelf and dug my fingers into the incredibly soft and squishy yarn. I’d already had the sad cephalopd story in mind and instantly I thought “this will be perfect for a squid army.” I haven’t quite completed an entire battalion with this yarn yet, but I have made this one. I call her Juice. Crocheted her up while I watched Doctor Who one weekend.
The second squid I finished (although, he was the first one I started) is the character from my little story. Hugo, the sad orange squid who just wants a hug. Don’t worry: he’s not sad anymore! He gets plenty of hugs regularly, and is just as happy as can be.
My third and final (for now) squid is Hubie. One squid isn’t enough, and two doesn’t quite cover it, so naturally I had to make a third. This little guy is crocheted from Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn – my absolute favorite yarn to make amigurumi with.
So, to date I have these three delightful little squids floating about my domicile, always there for a hug if one is needed.
I haven’t decided what to do about this pattern yet – whether I’ll release it for free, or perhaps include it among the patterns I will offer for sale. I’ll have to see what kind of interest there is in these little guys first. I’m really not sure how many people are in the market for squids :)
9/13/2013: Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know if you haven’t found out already, this pattern is now available here
Please remember that this amigurumi squid design, the accompanying story, and all photographs are copyright Karissa Cole/ea1701 2013, all rights reserved. No reproduction in any form is currently permitted. For more information please feel free to contact me. Thank you!