|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?