Monday, April 19, 2010
The Bright Side
Several days ago, we stopped at a drugstore and saw this sign outside, and with all that's going on in our lives, decided it would be a great way to commemorate this one thought:
It Could Be Worse.
So. We've been in limbo, and we've had better days, me and that dashing hunk of 100% man I like to call husband; the two of us just trying to anticipate the next round of natural and relational disasters that continue to rock both the world in general and our own little plot on the social landscape. If these times were being recorded in biblical prose, the text would include many references to the gnashing of teeth, along with snarls, snares, and instances of crying out to the heavens more times than I can count. But there'd be moments of beauty, too-of trusting, of staying the course, of azaleas blooming like crazy, of blowing bubbles in the backyard with the children and thinking that no matter what's around the corner, we've got love to spare. So there.
But then....so we don't get too comfortable in having, oh....one good day in about ten, and because it wouldn't be biblical unless there was a good-old-fashioned calamity of some sort, there's this:
For the past year, we'd been storing all our furniture in one of the outbuildings on our Ohio land; furniture and really everything else-toys, books, appliances, keepsakes...our entire life's worth of stuff. Since coming back south, we've been fortunate enough to have been able to stay with people who had room and beds and hospitality to spare, and for these sorts of people I am grateful beyond measure. We were never without hearth or pillow-but there was still a longing for the day I'd be able to recreate a true home for my family-and I kept that hope-flag flying in my heart, like something barely visible on the horizon. As in, we might be, all four of us, sleeping on two twin beds right now, but someday in the not-too-distant future I could feather my nest with all the things I knew were tucked safely up north-my vintage linens, fabulous sofa, kids' artwork...I must have mentally rearranged my living-room-to-come at least a dozen times. I even downloaded this image for inspiration-thinking I had most of those elements anyway, except maybe not quite that much Leedsware?
So-on my last trip to Ohio, I needed some spring clothes for Winnie, which I knew were with our things in storage. My dad had mentioned that we might have a "mice issue" out there, and he ordered some traps on eBay (who orders traps on eBay? my dad, that's who) which I assumed we'd bait and strategically place, thus mitigating any damage. Why yes, of course I believed extermination works retroactively. Don't you? Well, think of me as the Simon Cowell of the vermin industry: it doesn't. By the time you can smell them, they've already wreaked their tiny little mouse-havoc. They've moved in, had babies, elected a mayor, and built a highway system. It's true. And by the way, you sing like a cat.
So what was the damage, exactly? Oh, just about everything we own. I'd say 50-75% of the furniture is toast. My sofas were litterboxes, boxes of linens were shredded for nesting, and all but a couple of cookbooks munched. Photos, artwork. It's like a fire, but stinkier. It would almost be a relief to burn it down and start over.
I loved my things. Isn't it sad? They were, for me, the promise that I'd have a normal life again. I couldn't help but wonder, would I have been even more distraught had I not been living like a gypsy for so many months? Maybe. And what does that say?
The hardest part was not having my husband there to help me sort through it all. My brother-in-law, who is just wonderful, did his part in the heavy-lifting and vacuuming-up-of-mouse-poop department. But only Joshua could get down to business with a brave and hopeful face-and besides, he knows what's worth salvaging, and what is just...stuff. He wasn't there, though, so I put on my Muck boots and some yellow doing-dishes gloves and went to it. It was almost incapacitating. I could only work in 45-minute increments. If you think that sounds morally weak, then riddle me this: how would you feel if you came home to find that a multi-generational family of rodents had built a the world's largest trailer park in your living room? With no indoor plumbling? Did I mention they ate an ENTIRE bag of Starbucks coffee beans? It was basically a Mickey Mouse Crack-House.
So what next? We can buy replacement stuff. We have to pay of course-- because of the following, guess what loss is NOT covered by insurance? Volcanic eruption, terrorist attack, mudslide, sonic boom, mouse infestation.
But we've got love to spare, right? Right. The greater loss would be this-not knowing who we are, or whose we are. And come what may, perspective is scrappier than any mouse, and softer than any pillow.