I originally added (unfinished) to the title to let my professor would know that the final draft might be longer. It fit so well that it stuck. What I find most interested is that somehow I told this from a male perspective without intended to. I don’t honestly know why.
I sat folding laundry by the pale orange light of my table lamp; on my bed, one leg hanging over, my foot resting on the metal side-rail digging into the sole. My eyes passed back and forth between an episode of Twilight Zone streaming on my laptop screen and the lopsided piles of shirts and pants on the pillow between it and me.
Do you ever wonder how many lives you’ll go through before you find your own?
In a quarter century, I’ve lost track. One didn’t have long enough legs, another the sleeves had to be rolled up, yet another just wasn’t the right shade.
I always wear them a bit too long, until they start to chafe, and then leave them, barely used, for the next poor soul. Sometimes I wonder, if I wore one out, would it stretch or break? Would I stop trying to let it fit to me and begin to fit myself to it, like an ancient Chinese woman’s mangled feet into her bindings?
As a child, we go through them so quickly. Handing them down, like a paper route or the role of youngest sibling. Others, like a Boy Scout uniform, are saved in the hope of gifting them to the next generation. With age comes responsibility, and the realization that no one is going to hand over the perfect life, it must be earned, or bought, with determination. The jobs, the lives, become more formal with your collection of ties. Personal lives become a favorite set of jeans; not perfect but comfortable, they fit and don’t cost an arm, a leg, and a piece of soul.
Eventually, if we’re lucky, there is only one left that fits all. A torn and faded quilt draped upon quivering shoulders or quaking knees. Always wrinkled, weathered until even the patches feel like our own. And we wear it every day until we hang it up for good.