I was darning my husband’s sweater (they were only small holes, so not worthy of being damned) and in mid-stitch, was thinking that perhaps this is one of those many things that tells my age on me. As it is, I will readily admit to my advancing age–a thing of neutral value in my estimation, balancing fairly comfortably so far between worthwhile accumulations of experience and adventure and the brink of crepitation that will begin my final free-fall towards oblivion. So it’s not a touchy subject.What really struck me during this little bit of mending was that however cloddish my technique, it was still a very antique skill that I had learned from Mom in my youth and she, in her turn, from hers, and right on back into the impenetrable fog of history. Furthermore, a skill that you’d think a truly slothful person like I am at heart would find just a teeny bit repellant; you’d honestly expect something more like my flinging the sweater in a pile of give-away items as I slouched by on my way to the nearest chaise longue. I live in a disposable and spoiled society and it would be quite conceivable that I would far prefer to go with the flow of self-indulgence, lean back in the shade comfortably sipping sweet tea, and buy a new sweater with no untoward holes in it.
But along with that darning bit of old-fashioned fashion in me are a few other quirks of age. It’s clear that my multiple personalities are coming out of the woodwork in all of their glorious contradiction as I grow older. I am more able, for example, to recognize what would be the more mature thing to think, say or do in a given circumstance, but less willing to conform to that with every day that slithers by. I grow lazier–I would say by leaps and bounds, but that would imply energy being exerted to do so, obviously a misrepresentation, so let’s say by exponential expansion–that’s another thing, coincidentally, that I’m doing along with age, since I eat more and exercise less whenever I think I can get away with it. Even when I know I can’t. And yet another of these oddities is that while I grow lazier as quickly and surely as long blue-green hair grows on expiring vegetables, I also grow more stubborn about getting some things repaired in ways that will last longer and prevent my having to repair them next week yet once more. So I darn the darn things.
Everyone and everything else continues to age right along with me, so I feel safe in assuming a certain amount of knowing sympathy among my crinkled compadres, as well as understanding when I say that I am also simultaneously getting more profligate and more tight-fisted with my money. There are so many things that in days gone by I would have continently held in heart-thrumming abeyance as long as I could stand, both to see if I truly craved them enough for the sizable expenditure and because I thought it more fiscally prudent and Mature. Now, I’m often apt to shrug with a rich Gallic moue and say to myself, But Darling, you could, howcanIsayitdelicately, CROAK tomorrow! And POP! goes the wallet.
Some things I have learned actually do fall under the get-what-you-pay-for rubric, making up in the long term what they scared out of me in the present expense. Such, for example, is this cashmere sweater I mended. I am quite fond of bragging that I’ve bagged most of my non-shoe wardrobe for under USD $10, but on a couple of rare occasions I have seen one of a kind items either at surprise availability or better yet, on sale (perhaps resembling in this my brother-in-law, whose middle name we have occasionally joked should have been HalPris, or Half Price, for his amazing zest and gift for finding bargains)–when those moments come, it’s time to pony up and make the grand purchase. Because (a) high quality does last longer and (b) some outrageous things are just too jolly fun to have. So as I’m loath to cast off a slightly moth-eaten cashmere, it was worth the effort of the purchase enough that I’m willing to undergo the momentary exertion of actually mending and maintaining such a thing. It’s like a smaller and less complicated version of the relationship I have with a house: I know that things will constantly require attention and maintenance, and what falls within my limited skill range must be determined to be either worth the trouble or not, destined to be cheaply slicked over or staring me down with the necessity and value of genuine, if expensive, care and improvement.As for the sweater with the holes in it, I just did the best I could making them disappear with some discreet back stitching and re-weaving of the threads. It deserved to be darned. The moth that munched the wool, him I did damn to perdition for his maleficence in undoing the pristineness of my husband’s only nice and slightly expensive sweater. Go back to your weed patch and chew on a rabid squirrel’s ankle or something, you mean MothMonster, why don’t you! And then I’d blow him away on a dandelion parachute, while lying back once again on my chaise as the sun drifts gradually down the afternoon sky.