One of the signs of getting older is realizing there’s only one sweater you really need and then sticking to it, hanging it like a coat in the entryway for quick and easy access: and because you happen to be older it becomes ‘an old man’s sweater,’ but just think how hard it will be to get rid of after you’ve gone, how much your essence and aroma will come to inhabit it, and they’ll see the old man sweater at last for what it really is, you.
It was remarkably gray and downcast for the time of year, this Saturday morning. Because we could, there was nothing else to do, I took Charlotte out for breakfast some place we could really settle in and soak things up, and take our time.
We went back to the alehouse and moved in a beat from the topic of Valentine’s Day to Dawn’s dad’s grave and visiting it (since he died that day), and then a messy thread about Hell, the fact people in coffins in the ground must be closer to it, and the logic there: like how does it work if they go to Heaven, instead?—and I said these are abstract, psychological places (not physical) but she crossed her arms and pushed out her lip and called in stuff she’d learned from church, and I sucked on my drink and realized others were probably listening and what I said wasn’t coming out right, and I didn’t care.
Back home it was time to wax the wooden carving board, which you do with bees wax: I ran it along the scarred surface then into the gutters around the sides, the ones where all the blood and juices run, and thought what a good project manager I must be, getting in all the little cracks and crevices and really enjoying it, tuning things up.
The dog shedding prematurely left a riot of hair in the den, it flaked anytime you touched something like dried flower petals except it was all hair, hair that seemed interminable as grains of sand, that rose in a chaotic swirl and settled down again, that clung to stocking feet, that gave a costume of unkempt no matter your attire, it didn’t matter in the den.
And I saw myself for a second truly old, saw myself through the image of my mom’s brother Dave and his sweater, his features like my mom’s but white-haired and leaning forward more, each year: I saw my forehead and imagined it felt hardened like candle wax, like after it’s melted way down and gets knobby and weird, with so many folds and valleys melted and distorted, it almost looks like a face.
Outside something was definitely in bloom, but shifted when I tried to identify it. It had been raining so hard and for so long our gravel road was overcome with impromptu streams and runoff, a chaotic cross-hatch pattern, a messy braid, even the recently refilled potholes reopening, the color of chocolate milk.
There was no one at the lake, no surprise. No pleasantness or pitter-patter in the rain, just random, unresolved anger. And here is the majesty of winter I thought, not the starkness at the onset but its determination right up until the end, its death grip on the leg. If spring was about rebuilding and summer to enjoy it, fall to harvest, then winter was a season of reduction and reckoning, to refill all these holes, to watch how easily they reopen.