I consider the price point my mother gives me for a single bedroom there and laugh wryly. I'm not shelling out that kind of money. As it is, O. will have difficulty adjusting to the three-hour time difference and he's not going to be easy to wrangle during the festivities without adequate sleep. I'd rather pay for a suite at a less luxurious place with the same cash and ensure we'll all have a better chance at getting through the long weekend without having to manage a meltdown.
Against my will, my mind turns to the logistical puzzle this next trip promises to be. We've just dealt with the months-long planning process of getting ourselves to Colorado and back for a week of skiing for my mother's birthday -- a trip whose demands far outstripped any usual holiday visits we've made with O. -- and I hadn't intended to throw any resources at our Boston obligations until, say, July. But now I'm wondering how many days we need to be on the ground, how we're going to do two cross-country flights with a kid who can handle at most two hours strapped in a car seat before he's reached his limits. I see standoffs with the beverage cart coming already.
Research flights first, or hotel? My mind spins. I feel like a satellite caught in my family's orbit, destined either to burn up in the atmosphere or circle in the void for eternity.
I reach for my laptop, perched by the sweater I've been working on in fits and starts for D. Then I set it down again. The sweater's yoke, patterned with a geometric array of knits and purls, is perfect, except for one row I've noticed near the lower left of the chest. I've miscounted on the pattern, and everything from the center to the end of the row is shifted one stitch.
There's no ripping it out. Well, there is, but I've knitted the entire yoke, cast it off, and blocked it. Undoing all that work -- it's not worth it if I can find a simpler cosmetic repair. I consider using the same color yarn and just weaving fake stitches over the mistakes. I'm not satisfied with the solution, but I give in, threading a rusty orange length of wool onto a large tapestry needle. Push it under, draw it through, push it under, draw it through. If I had more patience to spare, I tell myself, I'd do this the right way, but the fact is I don't. All the more reason not to go hotel hunting this morning.
As I study the pattern's ins and outs, trying to figure out exactly where to overweave the new stitches, I can't help thinking about our week in Colorado. How my parents insisted they wanted us to be there, O. included, but hardly spent any time with him or us. How much effort we put into finding a baby-sitter long-distance and preparing to baby-proof a condo without having to ship our own safety gear or buy it just for a few days' use on site. How challenging my parents' dining preferences were with my food allergies and how we worked our own cooking and grocery shopping into the schedule so I'd be able to eat.
We'd anticipated all of that and decided ahead of time that we'd make this a vacation for ourselves, regardless of my parents' agenda -- we'd enjoy skiing together, even if the days were limited by our baby-sitting rotations, and we'd have fun being on a dinner "date" with my family on my mother's birthday, even if I couldn't eat anything at the restaurant. But then D. got altitude sickness and a head cold on top of it and by the time the week was over, he'd lost a third of our ski time and completely missed the big dinner in question.
I'm not proud of the way we handled those setbacks. After so much effort to turn a difficult trip into something positive for us, D. and I had a whisper-screamed verbal brawl late into one of our last nights in Colorado because we'd had it with the tension between us, built up over those months of dealing with my parents' requests. Extended family politics have, in the year since O. was born, been at the root of much of our growing frustration with each other. There are other stressors, to be sure, but we keep getting stretched thinner and thinner by the same primary forces we have yet to find a way to push back against together. Instead, we prey on each other's patience because it is easier than trying to appeal to my parents for the consideration they simply don't possess when it comes to their expectations of us.
These thoughts kink like yarn twisted too tightly on my needles as I attempt to oversew the first iteration of my offset stitches. For weeks I've been unable to move past them or, at the very least, push them aside. Now, I'm caught again, distracted again. This is why there are mistakes in my knitting in the first place.
The errant stitches are still just visible to me, but only because I know they are there, behind the camouflage I'm creating, loop by loop. They will always remain, no matter how carefully I match their tightness with the cover yarn.
I sit with my disappointment, unsure whether I should keep going. The act of mending is fitting for my state of mind, but it feels emblematic of all the bending and twisting I've been doing for little cumulative benefit. The yarn slackens in my fingers. This was meant to be a project to bring pleasure to both of us -- to me for the enjoyment of the process and to D., who had been searching for the perfect fall-weight pullover season after season. How had even this become about my family?
I pull the yarn taut again. This is exactly why I have to finish, I tell myself. I need something to feel like I've finally set it right, that I am not totally powerless.
The errant stitches slowly vanish beneath the new surface I weave, leaving their trail like a faint scar. I know I won't forget they're there, but I can at least keep the rest of the world from seeing them.
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