So I’m not “getting my fix” in Atlanta this weekend after all.
So. It was April, and I was stuck in my head. I only had one thing I wanted to talk about, but I didn’t know how to talk about it. And the more I didn’t write, the more I couldn’t write. But then I remembered something that happened right after we moved to Exile.
Of course, it doesn’t start there (do ANY of my stories start where I start?) It starts with my wedding. Well, my wedding shower, actually. My maid of honor threw me an incredible shower, managing to avoid any of the obnoxious pin the train on the wedding dress/wrap the bride in toilet paper games. I know there were a couple of activities, but I only remember one: each attendee (excluding yours truly) was given two sheets of paper and two envelopes. The paper was blank; the envelopes were all addressed: “To the Happy Couple: On the morning of their wedding/When they have their first fight about money/As they celebrate their first anniversary/When they buy their first house” etc. The guests all wrote advice that fit the occasion specified on the envelope, and then my maid of honor gathered up the envelopes and presented them to me. I’d never seen that done at a shower before, nor even heard of it, but I loved the idea (still do. Fair warning if you ever have me throw you a shower.)
I kept the envelopes in one of my hatboxes (what. Doesn’t everybody have hatboxes for storing keepsakes and, well, hats?) For the first 2-3 years, we regularly had occasions for which someone had written a piece of advice, and I couldn’t wait to get them out to read what my Aunt Chris had said about fighting about money (“There will always be money problems, but if you don’t handle them together, there won’t always be a marriage.”) or my Aunt Mackie had said about my wedding day (“Eat breakfast. You think you’ll eat later, but you won’t. And don’t get drunk at your own reception; that’s tacky.”)
After about 3 years, though, we stopped hitting “envelope benchmarks.” We weren’t ready for kids yet, we weren’t buying a house yet. And so it went for a couple of years, and I forgot about the envelopes.
And we moved, then moved again, and again. And then Goat #1 came along unexpectedly, and I was crazy and tired and crazy tired, and we moved AGAIN, and some mornings I couldn’t remember which was the Soft Soap and which was the toothpaste, let alone where my hatboxes might be, or why I might care about finding them.
And one day, Goat Daddy said, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. We’re kind of good at this parenting thing.” And I said, “Should we think about having another baby?” and POOF. (It so. did. happen just like that.) Goat #2 was on her way.
And we moved again. To UberExile (I know I said I would never speak ill of Iowa again, but honestly, that was the loneliest 15 months and 9 days of my life.) (Oh, like you wouldn’t have counted.) Half the time, I was pregnant, and tired, and insane (see: pregnant), with a toddler who wouldn’t go to bed, and a husband who worked 16 hour days and nights on the plant floor; the other half, I was postpartum, and tired, with a toddler who wouldn’t go to bed, and a husband who worked 16 hour days and nights on the plant floor, AND A NEWBORN. I couldn’t have told you what a hatbox even was, let alone remembered that I owned any.
And then we moved to Exile (3 years, 5 months, 28 days ago) (what. I like counting.) And we bought our first house. Which immediately began to fall apart. Before we’d been in the house for a whole week, we discovered a major plumbing problem: when we ran water for the washing machine, it did not drain. It backed up into the downstairs bathtub. The first estimate we got was $4000 to fix it. The second came from someone a co-worker of Goat Daddy’s recommended, and was lower, but not by much. Being “we just closed on our house” poor, we got to do something we never dreamed we’d do after just one week in our first house: take out a home improvement loan. Of course, it being so close to the holidays, we had to wait until after Christmas for the plumber to have time to do the job. So we spent our first Christmas taking showers while standing in a large Rubbermaid container to catch the water, and then throwing them out the back door. Ditto doing dishes by hand. We still refer to this as “the Pioneer Christmas.”
So it’s Christmas, and I’m in a new town, with no friends, and Goat Daddy is of course working insane hours, and I’m second-guessing the whole home ownership thing, and we’re a one-car family at this point, so I’m home all day with both goats, and I am only able to get out of bed every morning by reminding myself that at least it’s not Iowa, right? I missed my mother violently. I wanted more than anything to stop failing so miserably at playing grownup, and just talk to her and have her tell me I could do this, and that I wasn’t doing as badly as I thought.
One morning right after the New Year, we had a horrible morning. Whiny baby, whiny toddler, whiny Goat Mama. I finally put both of them down for a nap so I could go cry and wonder how I was ever going to save enough money to pay for their future “I had the worst mother ever” therapy. I sat on my bed, feeling sorry for myself and missing my Mom, and thinking of all the boxes I should be unpacking instead of wallowing. And I remembered.
It took me almost 3 hours of combing through moving boxes to find my hatbox with the envelopes. I destroyed the envelopes getting them open and skimmed each sheet of paper for only a second before I tossed it to the floor; I knew the handwriting I was looking for. I finally found it in the envelope I hadn’t dared to hope it would be: “To the Happy Couple when they have their first baby.”
There was only one line on the page. At first I was disappointed, wanting and needing more than that. And then I read it, and realized that unlike myself, Mom had a talent for succinctness; it said plenty in just one line:
Maybe now you know how much I love you.
Maybe now you know how much I miss her.
We have moved a lot. Wait. That’s not the right place to start. I don’t know the right place to start, really. What’s the right way to write about something you spend so much time not talking about?
I have these hatboxes. No. They’re part of it, but not the beginning.
Yesterday was my little brother’s 27th birthday. Yes, it was. That’s just not all it was. I should explain. I should also tell you that I’ve been trying to write this blog post for 16 days now, so when I say “yesterday” I don’t really mean “yesterday.” AND, in some bizarro glitch just now, I accidentally deleted everything that finally poured out of me tonight to finish this post. So now it’s going to be in parts, because I don’t know if I can recreate all of it again. Also, I’m very disheartened, because I was sort of proud of it. And now it’s gone. But here’s the beginning. Or what I think is the beginning, anyway.
The only coffee we have left is this yummy “Saturday Blend” but I suspect that “Saturday Blend” is code for “ha, ha, we only put 1/2 the caffeine in here since you don’t have to do anything today but sit on your porch in a rocking chair like the people in the picture on the label, right?” I could probably check the label to see if I’m right about the lower caffeine content, but I’m predisposed to cynicism, so even if it said “super-extra-caffeine blend” I wouldn’t believe it. Continue reading →
I have no idea how it got to be the 10th of April already. I swear it was just January? As much as every day seems so much the same: same morning battles with the kids, same breakfast, same routine, same after-school insanity of homework and dinner and playtime and baths, and each day seems so DARN LONG, how can the weeks and months be flying by so quickly?
I’m less than 3 weeks from finals, I have ginormous papers to be writing, and I am starting to freak out a little bit. Continue reading →