Ever hear of the Museum of Broken Relationships? The first Broken opened in Croatia in 2010; the Los Angeles museum opened in 2016. I read about it and was intrigued. Their mission statement:
The Museum of Broken Relationships explores broken love and other human relationships – what they mean to us, what they tell us about what we share and how we can learn and grow from them. It is composed of objects donated anonymously by members of the public from all over the world. Each exhibit is an object (some of them ordinary, some of them extraordinary) and a story, which together recount a watershed event in someone’s life.
The exhibits reflect the full range of human emotions. Some are sad; but many are amusing and hopeful and remind us that people change, grow and recover. Love relationships may end; relationships with family members, business partners, cities, religions and even with our former selves may end. But we learn and move on.
They have a number of items related to apparel and accessories, including a classic modern tragedy about a little black dress. I realized I had my own souvenir of a broken relationship taking up space in a closet. This unfinished sweater, the yarn and big needles it called for had followed me through many moves over many years.
I'm not much of a knitter. I've only made a handful of projects. Knitting a Fair Isle cardigan kept me awake during 8 AM college lectures. I have it still, mercifully not moth-eaten.
Then there was the crew neck pullover destined to be worn by an ex-boyfriend's grandfather in the old folks home. Or so I was told when I asked for it back.
My husband isn't the sweater type. I made a few things 40 years ago for our infant son. I had a flurry of activity knitting new grandson some sweaters of his own. He's too young to protest.
Then there was the unfinished sweater. It was almost done. Just needed to be sewn together. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to do that. I decided to donate it to The Museum of Broken Relationships. They asked for a submission story:
In 1963 I promised a young man I met while working in Provincetown for the summer that I would knit him a sweater. He bought the yarn and gave me $10 for my labor. Although I worked on it for the next ten or fifteen years, I never finished it. We were living in the same city; his business and social contacts made him easy to find. In 1996 I did contact him and promised to finish the sweater and have a reunion.
In 2015 I finished knitting but still haven't sewn it together. I tried contacting him again, but he never responded. In the meantime I got married and even have a son, but I couldn't give the sweater to either of them. It's been 53 years. I acknowledge I will never finish it and that the relationship is broken. I still feel guilty that I took his money and never gave him what he paid for. Somehow I think he would approve of its becoming a museum object.
That young man died last week. He was 74, which doesn't strike me as old enough. We had still not been in touch, so he never knew.