“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

5.29.2015

Summer - Chapter 1. Lessons.


The humidity hangs heavy in the house, heavy enough that even the mosquitoes struggle their way through it.  It lays on my skin and the walls and I complain about the rain, about its seeming neverendingness, about the towels and bathroom rugs that never all-the-way dry after I've showered; hours later the bathroom still feels damp, despite the open window and the fans blowing from different directions. Never mind that the sun has appeared for a bit - I don't think it rained yesterday and it hasn't yet today, but it lurks in the forecast and comes and goes, and goes some more, and is coming again, and soon.

I can't seem to get the words right.  They struggle past me like the mosquitoes, swirling slowly beyond reach when I try to catch them, my movement pushing them away.  I think I will write them down on paper, but the paper is damp and depresses me.

It feels like a story, one that needs chapters, and a heroine.  It starts with the smallest of floods, the very smallest, ankle deep at most, just an inch or two of water, but an inch or two of water rushing through your house front to back side to side carries its own story, and it moves faster than you can pick things up and out of the the way, and it is still a flood.  I am embarrassed to say that, to write it down like that, when The Blanco River is taking people's lives and homes, when I can turn on the tv and watch the water rise down the road in Dallas and Athens, and I say my gratefuls for the smallness of my flood, but nonetheless it is where this story begins.  I am typing to the sound of quiet birds under a gray sky.

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I'd woken in the darkness to the sound of something outside and walked to the kitchen, to look out the window onto the back porch, and I stepped in moving water.  The rain against the street light a block over showed the storm, but it was too late, and this water lives in Mombasa anyway, it would go where it would go, but that knowing didn't make it easier.  I found myself shouting at it all to stop, but water and rain only listen when they choose.  They silenced the cat, but not me.

Two weeks and 4 days ago.  

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the furniture is in all the wrong places, and the lesson in that is that it doesn't matter.  somewhere in the midst of all this, of pulling up carpet and working on floors, we went out for chinese food.  my fortune cookie read "If the table moves, move with it".

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By the end of the first day, the carpet was gone and the furniture stood helter skeltered about the house, piled with boxes and bags and clothing, and it was only by the time my friends and helpers were gone, by the time I'd showered and caught my breath, that I realized my bed had been pushed sideways against a wall, surrounded by, sheltered by (as it turned out) taller furniture and the one plant I keep in the room.  It was a womb to hold me.  It was the stuff of childhood dreams.  A private space to shut away the world.  For a week, at the end of work days and exhaustion, I would climb into that shelter and read by the light of my kindle and sleep would quickly find me. I told myself when this is all over, when the floor is fixed and everything returns to normal, I will leave the bed here.  I will move a table into the middle of the room, and I'll replace the overhead light with something pretty.  I'll leave that one mirror propped where it is.

And then we moved it all to the other side of the room, making room to begin work on the floor where the bed once stood.  We piled benches and rain boots on other benches, pushed my grandmother's trunk and a table against those, and then the bed.  It was suddenly an island unto itself, floating in the room. Sometimes it stopped raining and the sun came out.  Sometimes we had shadows.  I opened the windows and breezes blew through the bedroom and on through the house.  The cat sat on the windowsill.  I told myself I'd been wrong, that when this was all over, this is where I will leave the bed.  I will let the benches be a headboard, let the sun fall on my face and wake me in the mornings.  I don't need a table in the middle of the room, I told myself, but I'll leave the mirror and yes, still replace the overhead light with something pretty.

And then the rain got bigger once again, and water once again found its way into my house - not much, but enough for the bed to be shoved quickly away from the center of the room, too close to two walls.  It's where I've slept for the past 4 nights.  It will not stay there.  The furniture in the living room is still in the wrong places - the couch is turned to the east instead of the north, piled with quilts and pillows, and I refuse to put on the slipcover until the floor is finished.  Chairs are stacked on other chairs and there are still boxes and bags piled on everything, but I have organized them and can now find what I need.  I have thrown things out. Shoes, baskets, pillows, shirts. Pieces of a past life.

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We are baby stepping through the weather, doing it all ourselves in spare moments, praying for sunshine and summer.  I tell myself I am too old for this, but obviously I am not.  I am moving with the table, wherever it goes.

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17 comments:

  1. "If the table moves, move with it." I love that! Sorry you have to deal with the pain of flooding, but good for you that you're taking such a poetic view of seeing your house in a new light, where stuff is, and where it ought to be. Also have to tell you I LOVED all your pieces in the summer issue of Bella Grace, but especially the one on friendship "A Lovely Mess of Life." Happy also that it comes right before my piece on the Perfect Porch Day. Wishing you a dry house soonest!

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    1. awww, i'm jealous! i've not rec'd my copy yet, but i can't wait. and perfect porch day? that sounds wonderful! nothing better than porches and boats. :)

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  2. All this mess, all this trouble, and still, with your words, you make it into magic. And I know it doesn't feel like that at all in reality, but that just shows what a fabulous writer you are.
    Keeping my fingers crossed that things dry out soon. xoxo

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    1. thank you so much. this weekend looks to be possibly not fun, but after the next couple of days, we are being teased by the idea of sunshine. i hope they're right!!

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  3. how you write…especially about change…is incredibly inspirational…and warm and tender and sad and enlightening and and and…..ps…i'm thrilled to be in the 4th issue of bella grace with YOU! THRILLED!

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    1. beth!!!! how fun! now i REALLY can't wait! and thank you! smooches!

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  4. ..and while you move, and your table moves.. and your bed moves, I feel tears on my cheeks for you.
    I have thought of you for days, wondering how close you are to the floods, and rushing water. Even LITTLE
    rushing water is altering your life. I am learning NOT to complain of my Michigan weather, the mid May frosts that last a week, that takes my flowers, the coolness. You truly ARE inspirational even if you don't feel like it right now.

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    1. I am lucky to not be where the big flooding is happening. It's times like these that makes me count my blessings.

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  5. You make poetry out of floodwaters and bamboozled furniture. I am so sorry for the mess and the trouble, I hope you dry out soon. And I know other people's floods are bigger, but that doesn't take away the mess of yours. ((Hugs))

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  6. My goodness. What a mess to deal with. I hope you don't have any permanent damage to your home. I love the synchronicity of that fortune. What else can we really do but move with it all?

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  7. The warrior that you are, and the writer that you are, in spite of the water, constantly inspire me.

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  8. you have reminded me to always count my blessings. Especially when things are good. Hang in there and hope the floods subside quickly

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  9. so sorry you are dealing with all the water and mess. Thinking about you and hoping you dry out soon. My sister lives in Houston and I have not heard back from her. Not sure what all the rain did there. On another note....
    You have such a way with words! Can't wait to read your articles in Bella Grace this month. Even in the midst of all you are dealing with your words are beautiful.

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  10. hope that table you are moving along with is starting to settle. Looking forward to 'chapter 2'

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  11. You know what I like? That I just opened Bella Grace and started reading, and halfway thru the article, I said to myself: ooo. This is good. Who wrote this? And then I checked and - drumroll - it's you! Lovely.

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    1. :) I've not yet seen it. i'm getting antsy to read all the good stuff. such a great magazine.

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