“VOTE” and “LOVE” are so, so close

Dear President Trump,

I’m sure you missed it so I’ll tell you that not only can Natalie Portman embroider, but she’s up for embroidering for a cause. She used gold thread to embroider the names of eight women directors who didn’t receive Oscar nominations this year down the left edge of her black Dior cape. The font she chose is lovely, her handiwork flawless, and her aim true. I love that she honored these women and their work with such a beautifully, powerfully feminine gesture.

At the beginning of this month I told you that I’m embroidering the Preamble to the Constitution (since I’m sure you don’t care why, I’ll tell you that I’m going to print from it eventually) and a couple of days ago I finished the first sentence, to include some calculated edits to make it inclusive and no longer religious, which, by the way, really didn’t take much doing at all. The embroidery itself was a fair bit of work so I plan to test the printing part to make sure it works aesthetically before I wholly commit to doing all 202 words of my edited version.

As I was wrapping up work on the first sentence I got a wild hair in response to the “what will you do to make a difference?” challenge I wrote to you about the other day and it’s to embroider the word “VOTE” and then to make a series of prints from it symbolizing different reasons to vote (e.g., peace, climate change, women’s issues, LGBTQ, children, Black lives matter, immigration, etc.). The prints will then be scanned and the images used as posters or postcards to encourage people to vote.

I spent yesterday developing block letters that I like in the size I need and embroidered the outlines of the letters on some of the nice cream colored linen I got for the Preamble project. Today I practiced the filling in part, which is loosely based on the idea of darning, though it isn’t nearly so neat and orderly as usual darning. Over the course of the week I’ll apply this pseudo-darning to the letters themselves.

The thing I really want to tell you about all this is that as I was doing my pretty stem stitch around the letters, I realized that the word “VOTE” is almost the word “LOVE” – you just need to swap the “T” and the “L” and rearrange the letters a bit. It had never occurred to me that they were so incredibly close, letter-wise, but they sure are.

I looked up the etymology of “VOTE” and it’s quite wonderful:

Latin               Latin               late Middle English
vovere    –>      votum     –>    vote
to vow             a vow, wish

Isn’t that nice?! So even though there doesn’t seem to be any etymological reason for “VOTE” and “LOVE” to share three letters, there does seem to be a heart reason – we make or take vows for people and institutions we love and we make wishes for things we would love to have and would love to have happen.

What if all of our votes were driven by love? Real love, of the agape sort (look it up).

May we be safe to claim who and what we love.
May we be willing to make vows and votes to protect who and what we love.
May we vow and vote to keep all we love healthy and strong.
May we vow and vote to respect one another and to make peace, not war.

Tracy Simpson

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