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Piece Out

One 1,000-piece puzzle: $5.99 Snacks and drinks: $45.00 Hosting 6 friends for a Puzzle Party? Priceless

Is it any surprise that a professional organizer (a.k.a. someone who loves order) would enjoy assembling jigsaw puzzles? Not really. What is surprising is when folks who are not so concerned about order in their lives love puzzles as much as I do.

So was the case Friday night when friends gathered at my apartment for a Puzzle Party. Standing around my kitchen island we attacked the puzzle like wild animals, confiscating colors and assembling them together before joining forces to put the entire carcass back together. When the clock crept close to midnight we called it a night, with only about 100 pieces left (which I finished the next morning). Everyone emailed the next day thanking me for the reminder of how much they enjoy puzzles. There’s a quiet peace that fills you up as you concentrate on nothing else but turning that mess under your nose into order. Maybe some of us love puzzles because life doesn’t always fit together as neatly.

I am one of those puzzlers who used to glue puzzles together. At one point I had a stack of 50 in my old bedroom closet. When it became apparent I wasn’t going to frame and hang them, I tossed them. And as I stuffed each puzzle into the garbage, I could almost remember the hours I spent studying their colors and shapes, kind of like how an attorney must feel shredding old files, each case sparking a memory.

At my puzzle party, as arms reached over arms connecting pieces, someone asked me, “What’s the largest puzzle you’ve ever done?”

“Four thousand, nine-hundred, ninety-eight,” I said.

“Not 5,000?” she replied.

In 1987 I began a 5,000-piece puzzle that I completed on New Year’s Day 1988. As ecstatic as I felt, I was devastated. There were two pieces missing.

final puzzle copy

“I hid them months ago,” my dad said, as he trotted off to retrieve them from a high shelf in another room. But they weren’t there. Eventually I got over the missing pieces. In the last few years I’ve stopped gluing them altogether, and just break them apart and give them to friends. My enjoyment was never the end result anyway. Whether its puzzles or closets, connecting pieces has always brought me peace.

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