Sunday Morning~ My Daughter’s House
August 27, 2017
I had five kids by the time I was twenty-nine. When I think of that now, it seems ridiculous. I felt much older than twenty-nine then, and now at sixty, I sort of, don’t. Until I start in the daily routine of taking care of little ones and simultaneously get home improvement projects done. Then I feel every bit of sixty and my back is screaming, “What the hell?” Ready to pitch in with a little renovation for a play room, I was all gung ho yesterday, and started clearing away the construction debris to start shingling the new wall. A minute into that I dropped a piece of plywood, perfectly scraping the skin off my right shin. No problem! I covered it all with bandaids and as Amelia examined the blood dripping from underneath, she said in a horrified tone, “ I can’t believe that!” A slight setback, I got back to work and, with James throwing sticks into the pile, we got the space cleared and ready to shingle. Opps, wrong nails. A trip to the hardware store, distractions, snacks and finally got the first few rows on. By that time, Kyle was home and took over. The scene was so cute, Amelia handing her dad nails as he put the shingles up, I thought I needed to document this lovely moment of family working together so sweetly. One photo, then stepped back to get a better angle and fell over a big aloe plant in a heavy planter that hit my ankle as it toppled, and I landed on the wing of a cast epoxy garden fairy I bought Rachael for her birthday years ago. Well. Aside from the fact that I broke the thing in half (I thought those were indestructible) I am nearly crippled from the bruise on my right butt. It’s hard to sit and write. With two little kids demanding attention, I have no idea how I worked and raised five kids. None. I do remember that naps were not optional in our house. Just like seat belts, they were required without question. I could write a paper for grad school in those two hours, knowing after nap time I was a dead woman. Last night, I was in bed before the kids, grateful their parents were here. Next weekend I’ll be on my own with them as Rachael and Kyle head to a four day wedding extravaganza, so I anticipate a short blog next Sunday.
George returned to Malawi Monday morning at dawn. Early morning flights always seem like a good idea until the night before when you get about two hours of sleep before leaving for the airport at three am. No traffic though, there’s that, and he arrived there to abandoned guards needing salary advances and dry dusty days. I got a few early messages asking where things are but he seems to be settling in for two months of bachelorhood. It’ll go fast. I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I left there.
This being homeless thing is giving me time to think about personal space and sense of stability. I am staying in comfort and relative prosperity, drifting around from friend to family and enjoying it, though I am conscious of not wearing out my welcome. It’s hard to have someone else in your space for long periods, I get that. I try to leave a small footprint, but it’s different from when I’m just visiting someone for a few days. I’m trying to write a grant proposal, arrange speaking engagements, pay bills, and scan a zillion old slides onto a hard drive. I feel like I’m carting around a lot of STUFF.
When flying, my personal rule is not to bring anything I can’t carry for five miles and even that is usually too much. I find myself wearing the same thing every day anyway and I don’t wear makeup or use hair products. A suitcase with wheels always seemed unnecessary. I only use one when traveling with books to sell or bringing home wood carvings and fabric from Africa. Roaming around with my car the past week, it’s easy to toss in lots of STUFF, just in case. I have way more than I need and moving it around makes that glaringly evident.
During my orientation for MSF we did an exercise where we were split into groups of five and had to decide how we would transport things by foot to the destination we were assigned. We were given two wooden chairs, two big gerry cans filled with water, six cans of tomatoes, and ten books to carry. At first it was fun, choosing a leader, distributing the weight among us, and showing off that we were capable. The destination was a mile away. When we arrived, tired but proud, we were told to continue on to another place, another mile away, then another, then another. Each time we thought it was the end of the exercise, thinking they can’t make us do this all night, we’d be given another mile to walk. We’d started at six pm, and by midnight with blistered feet and soaked with rain, on our fifth destination, arguing about how we’d continue, competitive enough to not give up, we were walking in sand on a beach in northern Holland, with a few of us in tears. It felt like torture. We reached our final destination at 2 am. We discovered that one group had dumped out their water miles before. We hadn’t thought of that. It was an exercise created to help us understand what it is like to be a displaced person, not knowing where you’ll find shelter, carrying all you salvaged with you. The next day we examined what the experience did over the evening to our relationships. We started out working well together, but as the night wore on, we disagreed more and more about how to continue. If we were capable of carrying our own stuff without help, the whole thing would have been different.
OK, I’m starting to see why writers go to isolated cabins away from civilization. This isn’t going anywhere further with the beehive-like activity around here, so, I’ll think of where I was going with this and write the post-script next week…
Love to all,