[Another piece from the book while I’m busy drawing all the loose ends together.]
It started with a namesake.
A little fox, small enough to sit in the palm of my hand, crudely folded for me from a scrap of sugar paper by a friend in the playground. It followed me everywhere for the next two days, being unfolded and refolded until was sure I’d mastered it. After that, little paper foxes sprang up wherever I went, fashioned from whatever I could get my hands on – scrap paper, bus tickets, homework… anything.
Years passed, and I got better at it, picking up increasingly complex designs – a pig folded from a five pound note, a lizard made from five intersecting units, a twelve-piece firework that “exploded” when turned in on itself, exhibiting a kaleidoscopic array of colours. I reached the point where it became less of a hobby, more of a compulsion; every scrap of paper I came across ended up fashioned into something or other, and I would leave little folded flowers and animals in my wake wherever I went.
I could never quite explain why I was so taken with origami – I think it was the idea of taking something plain, something flat and boring and perfectly ordinary, and shaping into something new, something intricate and beautiful, almost like metamorphosis. Sometimes I wondered if I’d ever be able to do something similar to myself – a little nip here, a little tuck there, reshape myself until I look entirely different.
It was an attractive concept, I must admit, but there were flaws. Origami is all about precision – if the edges don’t quite meet, or you don’t fold at quite the right angle, then the model won’t work. What’s more, it leaves a crease behind, and no amount of flattening or straightening the paper out will ever remove it. Every wrong move you make leaves a mark behind; make too many and the paper falls apart.
With my fair share of creases, I’ve learned it’s not worth trying to fold yourself into a different model. More often than not, it looks nothing like the finished product ought to.