I haven’t written in awhile. Mostly because my life has been turned upside down… And in no small part to my own choices. It’s been three months since my husband and I separated. What? I know. If you don’t know, it’s because you’re not on the mailer list. Sorry, call me to be added.
But seriously, so many days my life are not what they used to be. And that’s all good. But it has its odd little drawbacks that make me say “Hmmmmm…” Like the fact that I am now raising two kids (some of the time anyway) in a 900 something square foot apartment. You know the facts. It’s never 1000. It’s like 969 or 978 or something so close that you tend to round up in your head.
Our back yard looks like a patio, because it is. It’s a little patio, 2 floors up, looking out over a bunch of other people in apartments, some with stories much like ours. And we don’t have a salon, parlor, and library like we did at the other house. We just have a room that has a kitchen, dining room, living room and family room all in one. How I did not think of this efficiency before, I will never know. It’s genius.
The fixtures aren’t all hand chosen and upgraded to show our particular style, taste and pedigree. (I had to look up the last word in a very fancy magazine.) And the bedrooms number less than the members in our family… mind you, there’s only one parent here. So someone gets the patio… and I make that decision on a daily basis… it’s on the behavior chart. Please don’t tell me your kids’ counselor hasn’t told you the benefits of this type of rewards system. If they haven’t, please look for a new one!
Instead of telling the kids to go outside or jump on the trampoline or swim in the pool, I just say “Shut up already!” See, we’re very happy. (yes, I do not say that. What?)
Truth is, it works fine for me most days. Turns out I am less materialistic than my kids. They want toys and friends and things to do. Me, I am happy with my work, my books, the internet and a glass of champagne periodically.
So I am chugging along, feeling ok about my decision, and then a day came up that hit me between the eyes. And given that I haven’t written in awhile… Here’s me, back in the saddle. And you’re about to tell me to give up my saddle for more room in the apartment.
My oldest gets up and I overhear him (cause there’s nothing to do here but overhear) that his fish is dead. Yes, we got fish, since monkeys or elephants or anything larger than a peanut are out of the question. Who’s giving up their room for the gorilla? No one. So fish. And it died. In like a week. Because no one fed it. I have to take some responsibility because I didn’t feed it when the kids were with their dad either. But I know they can make it because the other fish is still alive, in murky waters, but still alive. But instead of telling me, or me looking across the kitchen counter with my 20 foot vision, into my son’s room…. He had been keeping the fish for what looked like days. The fish had a fly floating on its dead body, eating away like it was a medieval feast with no utensils and disturbingly glutinous. But why wouldn’t he? He couldn’t find his way out of this place. Eat away, my ugly friend. Eat away!
So this is before school I find our 5th housemate is dead, and I am internally throwing bets on who will be next. Perhaps the other fish? Perhaps I should pump in more oxygen or check the cupboards for food so my beautiful children will be able to find food…. For sure. Ugh.
But the day wasn’t over, so you know how that goes…. And they come home, and by they, I mean, the children I call my own. And they walk in the door, possibly complaining about this or that. And I sit with one child to read on the couch while the other goes to his room to pretend to do homework… And I smell something….. smells like smoke. I look around like a mother wolf, smelling danger, look about, picture National Geographic. And I look and look but nothing. So I calm myself and focus on the “The Littles” or Chester or whatever the book was. (I didn’t focus, but I so tried.)
But then we repeated that same dance three times. I knew I smelled smoke. There was smoke coming from the kitchen. And I jumped up and leapt over the countertops in a single leap, just like the wolf mother I am. And I found the culprit. It wasn’t the fish. The story doesn’t tie together that easily. But there was burning toast and by burning, I mean on fire! It was on freaking fire! The toast in the toaster oven was on fire. And the drama continued. The windows opened. The alarms went off. My head started to focus in on everything all at once as you do when the adrenaline kicks in. And the smoke wrapped around the tiny apartment, from the kitchen, two inches to the family room and six inches further to the patio and around the back. We were enveloped in smoke and the ghost of the dead fish mocked us all the while. He had left on purpose. Another night, and he’d have been on a roaster stick, out on the patio and not for fun but for necessity. There’s no room for toys here.
So what happened? Nothing interesting. Nothing of import. But that was my day. I questioned my intent in life. I questioned whether I was capable of watching two children on my own. I questioned whether fish can actually haunt the living, and I questioned whether I would continue to be able to do all the things I think myself capable of.
And a month or two later, I think I can. I wonder other things now, like how am I going to replace tablets every other freaking day or how am I going to convince my kids they are having fun knocking over stacked cups in the kitchen with golf balls because I can’t keep up with the demand of toys. But I am where I am supposed to be. And I am grateful for something or other… that might be the next post. But somewhere in the world, there is a child without a toy, working hard in a field, and wishing the worst thing that happened today was the death of a fish and some burnt toast. So high fucking five to life and all our decisions hand us.
I wish you and yours all the love, the peace and insanity of living each day!
I wish you every good thing. And if you find my apartment keys laying around somewhere, shoot me a text. I really need to find them.