When our little threesome left the big city for life in a northern town, we were still working for a large company and had the great fortune of having someone else come and move us. At first they sent just one guy to pack everything up. M said he watched him assess the four flights of stairs with a bit of apprehension, still confident that it was altogether an easy job. How much stuff could one attic apartment hold? I guess his jaw dropped when he saw that we basically had enough to furnish a whole house crammed into three little rooms. I would have liked to have been there to comfort him, maybe even lead him to the closets to show him the forty boxes we never unpacked the whole time we lived there. (See some of your work is already done...) Instead, eight-month old T and I spent the day at the local big bookstore reading, playing and having a bit of shortbread, or two. I found it to be eerily like the last few weeks of pregnancy. I had scheduled my maternity leave to start a week before my due date. (I really had no intention of going into labor at work, which would only confound my chances of getting to the hospital near my home.) One young co-worker suggested that I have the baby in the store elevator, that way everyone could watch. I quietly vetoed that idea and stayed with the original plan of being home and heading to the hospital at the appropriate time. As you can only imagine, that didn't turn out as expected. Our plumbing went out in the apartment so I spent a few days at the local bookstore looking at parenting magazines and imagining what the next few months would be like. And I read, in fact I finished a whole book just waiting.
Now eight months later I was back with baby in tow as the movers (more than one, as they realized our original guy needed reinforcements) packed our life's belongings to load into the truck as we made our way to be closer to M's family in Michigan. The stroller was loaded with diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes-- everything we might need for the day. I had a tiny little wallet on a string that held my drivers license and a silver pen that was molded into the shape of a fish. It had been a present from M and I loved having it with me, the heft of it in my hand. One minute it was hanging from the stroller, the next minute it was gone. I searched the store, the bathrooms, the magazine racks and children's area-- no luck. I felt slightly bereft, and have often thought of that time since. I think of a silver pen, the hand that holds it and wonder...
It may be more on my mind recently because there have been a rash of robberies in our little town. Neighbors have been talking in hushed tones about missing computers, tools, instruments and other items that have enormous sentimental value. I really don't think we have anything that a thief would even want to take. Yet there are some things that I can't imagine living without, the loss would be unbearable. Listening to these neighborly conversations I have decided that I don't want to walk around with a look of suspicion on my face, a sense of vulnerability my constant companion. Instead I would hope that if someone wanted something of mine, if they desperately needed it-- that they would just ask. I would be happy to give something freely rather than have it taken from me. Here's the key, please take only what you need, and only if you promise to give it a good home.
I'm sitting in the tent, in the rain. It's raining. Hard. The tent leaks. And every rainy camping trip from my childhood is in here with me. All those loud days of boredom, all those damp pages turned in hopes by the end of the book the sun would come out. The cranky whine of a ten year old is tickling the back of my throat, as if any minute adult me will succumb to the verbal tools of a child. But only dear b is here to witness my tantrums, and so I keep them confined and tame, adult. Instead I mention casually that coffee is too far away, all the way down the road in the city. I bad-mouth the communal showers, call them functional. My fingers peck the keys in the same anti-rhythm as the drops on the stretched nylon above me.
But, really, rain, couldn't you have waited a few days? You've been fairly obliging all summer, one more week might have made me love you. You are stealing my three days of beach reading right out from under me. You are stealing my campfire. You are stealing photos of the sunlight bouncing off various objects both still and in motion. I'd like to walk to the bathrooms without getting wet. I'd like to take a walk. I'd like to quit glancing along the edges of the floor to measure the size of the puddles forming there; those tiny shores are getting closer to my sleeping bag.
I know the garden at home needs you. I know I should be grateful. People all over the world are dying for want of rain. But right now, here, you are a thief in my flimsy tent.
Next Week's Word: Joy