Folding my way to friendship

Paper cranes assembled on the desk of Lindsey Fine. Photo by Lindsey Fine
I am one of those people who always has to be using my hands.

Sometimes that means playing with my hair, sometimes it means writing song lyrics, sometimes it means doodling. Most often, though, it means I’m folding paper cranes out of old notes or gum wrappers.

At home, my friends hand me their gum wrappers or used Post-it Notes without thinking and recycle the folded birds I leave lying around like it’s second nature.

Coming to cherubs, I forgot that folding origami out of scrap paper wasn’t entirely normal. But by the end of one of our first lectures, my new friends were examining the six or so cranes I’d folded in that hour with fascination.

To my delight, they asked me to teach them the fine art of gum-wrapper origami.

Later that night, we sat in a circle and spent an embarrassingly long time folding cranes out of notebook paper as the deadline on our unwritten feature stories inched closer. The next morning, we arrived in 217 Fisk for our morning lecture as three girls who were now origami experts, armed with a pack of Post-it Notes.

In the next two hours, we made an obscene number of long-necked creatures. Lindsey collected them all, taking them back to East Fairchild and decorating her desk with the tiny paper birds. Our folding did not stop with that lecture. With a week left at cherubs, I don’t think I’ve attended a single lecture without making at least five paper cranes.

As the collection on Lindsey’s desk grew with each passing day, so did our team of origamists. While we continued to fold cranes, other cherubs continued to ask what we were doing and to learn.

Around the start of the third week, we decided our small white and silver birds were no longer entertaining enough to fold and preserve. We started drawing elaborate designs and writing song lyrics before folding them, adding color and variety to our ever-growing collection.

In the last four weeks, I found tiny paper birds at Norris, in the street, in East Fairchild and in the McCormick Foundation Center. The small and often squashed paper birds make me smile whenever I see them and pick them up for Lindsey’s permanent collection.

She plans to bring each and every crane on the three-hour flight back to Florida to decorate her high school newsroom. While she works on her paper, the artwork can serve as a reminder of our time at cherubs.

My compulsive habit of folding birds out of gum wrappers and old note paper has turned into a shared experience. I don’t know if I’ll ever fold an origami crane again without thinking of the flock of them I’ve helped make in these five weeks and the girls with whom I’ve made them.