Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My sweater has shrunk.

Today's post is a response to the GBE2 prompt 15 Minute Freewrite. The idea is to spill out one's brains for fifteen minutes and then probably chuck the results in the trash. Because I hadn't posted in a week, I decided instead to fix my typos and publish the damn thing. Now you know what it's like on the inside of my head. You're welcome.

Photo Credit: Morguefile by Alvimann

My sweater has shrunk. The change is faint, but obvious to me. It fit perfectly, in that subtle way men never understand. It slid correctly down my body and ended in the place it should. It was sleek but not too tight. It fit. And now it's shrunk. The shape is wrong, the hemline slightly round. It isn't ruined, and so I'll have to wear it anyway. It goes on my body, it doesn't pull. It's just...ordinary; its special quality is gone. My sweater has passed its heyday. Nothing gold can stay*.

So, too, with most of my grand ideas. They've been washed one too many times. I was careful twenty-eight washes, but the twenty-ninth I failed. Damn, the thing is shrunk. It's a bad memory of what it was.

"What?" say the sons and husband," It looks just the same as before."

"No," I say. "It's crap."**

Sixty passes over an essay, a vignette. The thing is torched, it's ruined, cooked on high. It's a bunched-up on itself; it's shapeless, scratchy, bent. It was a thing of beauty in my mind.

Why, then, do it at all? Why wear sweaters? Why not just get a serviceable sweatshirt and slop around the house? Why wear nice sweaters for men and children who can't even tell if they are shrunk? I like sweaters. I just like them. With a scarf and boots and jeans, a good sweater will make its wearer empress of the world.

Fine, then. Let's try again. If I pull the edges—thus!—it might just look like something I'd want to wear. Tug a little here, but not too hard. Just pull it into shape. Maybe better? I can't tell. I have to live with it for a while, live with it until I forget what it was "going to be" before. Maybe, just maybe, I'll let it live.

Editing. I'm editing.

*Robert Frost said this before I could get there.
** This whole conversation is made up. I never swear at my kids or husband. Really, never. Believe me?


  1. I have the same twin shrunk sweater! And children and husband. Small world.

  2. I have this thing with doors... the angle of doors... No-one else in the house has a clue why the angle of a door can drive me bat-sh*t insane. Thus, I understand the sweater problem, in my own way.

  3. The shrinking of a sweater caused my husband to avoid laundry for a long time. (You put it in the dryer?!?!)

    Ugh, editing! At least with that, more work can equal more beauty. With sweaters, the more you tug and pull the more the thing is misshaped.

    (I'm wearing a shapeless sweatshirt right now. But, I may have to put on a nice sweater, so I can feel like an empress. I need to be an empress today.)

  4. I've had this problem with all of my clothes lately; none of them fit right and they've lost their ability to make me feel put together anymore. Thankfully, I'm a knitter, so I'll raid my secret yarn stash and make a new sweater that will fit just right, for now. Thanks for sharing your brain a little today.

  5. I fully understand the metaphor of this piece and it's very well done as usual! But I have to comment on the clothing part. I bought a winter coat from a big northest US company (which shall be nameless) a few years back and I just loved it! It, too, fit perfectly! The sleeves were exactly the right length. It was just the right size to go over a sweater to give it a little bit of extra warmth! It was really comfortable and I wore it a lot! But then I realized that it was wrinkling, especially in the back where you sit. It was a washable coat, so I washed it, expecting the wrinkles to come out in the dryer. They didn't - the whole thing wrinkled. It was not permanent press like other washable coats that I have. It needed ironing. I can't iron a coat! I never iron at all any longer! And I refuse to have it dry-cleaned. So now it's hanging in the closet and I never wear it. And I'm sad.
    Fortunately, most of my writing so far (at least what I've published) has been permanent-press! The wrinkles can be smoothed out in the editing!

  6. Man, if only the crap in my head sounded like this with editing, let alone without.

    The sweater looks fabulous. Always does.

  7. I have done free writing exercises as part of a book on writing memoir. Trust me when I say your brain is a significantly more organized place than my own. ;)

  8. LOLOL i HATE when that happens...dang shrinkage...:0)

  9. Fantastic. I love the metaphor...the flow. Great writing.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License