My Knees Are in the Wrong Place

It started out as a joke, but the more I looked at my naked body in the mirror the more I believed my knees were all wrong. I’ve got big thighs for my frame, a holdover from playing soccer as a kid, I built up all that muscle and then let it go to pasture when I quit running around on the pitch. They’re strong legs and I appreciate them, I do, but the knees seem like they should be lower on my leg, or is it that they should be higher?

I have an MFA in jewelry and a BFA in studio art, years of training my eye to see when something is out of place, measuring the optimal distance between two points, knowing what feels right. Sometimes I see something and I know it’s wrong, but I don’t know why. It might be that it’s not symmetrical enough, or it’s too symmetrical. Maybe the handle on the mug I’m making is too bulky, the length of a dangly earring too long, the found piece of broken ceramic too large for the ring I’ve built to hold it.

If I stare at my face too long in the mirror, when I’m plucking my eyebrows, or waxing my upper lip, I start to notice my nostrils and how one is larger than the other. When I smile it turns my face crooked, one eye squinting more than the other. I can only wink with one eye, the other refuses to close unless the other submits. As I walk through my house barefoot, I look down to find my pinky toes doing their own thing, meeting the ground well after all the other toes have made contact. Sitting on the sofa I can see the little toes, clinging to their mates, mashing their fleshy sides into a blobby triangle. The nails barely recognizable as nails. They could be worse.

The image I keep in my head of myself is blurry, an amalgam of many reflections I’ve seen before. Somedays I feel confident, somedays I want to hide behind many layers of clothing, a chunky scarf wrapped around my neck so I can pull it up over my mouth and nose. The knees are always out there, mocking me, refusing to move to a position I might find more visually appealing. It could be a matter of millimeters. I tug and pull at the patella, smooshing the flesh around the bone in an effort to coax it into place. If I could just love my knees, would everything else fall into place?

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