I’m too hot and lazy today to write a post. So I’m reprinting one from my old blog at Radio Userland, one of the early blog sites.
Many years ago, I was miserably single, sure that I would end my life alone in a messy house filled with cats. Each new relationship seemed to vie for the previous one for weirdness and dysfunction.
I drove up to my sister’s house for a visit one weekend. While we waited for her husband Tom to get home from work, I helped watch her boys while she took down the laundry.
They lived in a tiny town 30 minutes outside a big city, in a run-down but charming old farmhouse Sue had painted and wall papered to within an inch of its life. It was warm and homey.
We were out in their spacious backyard. It was a beautiful, sunny summer day. A brisk wind whipped the sheets on the clothesline as Sue struggled to unpin them. Joey, her oldest boy, was running happily to and fro, occasionally plowing into a flapping sheet, his little three-year-old body pushing into its folds. Her baby Eddie was gurgling in his bouncy chair.
I was almost heartsick with envy. I was happy for Sue, of course. But I wondered if I would ever have such joy in my life.
The bees buzzed through the flowers, the wind blew, and all birds sang. I finally set aside my envious heart and chased Joe through the sheets as he shrieked with delight.
I remain, to this day, “Aunt You” thanks to Joe’s inability to pronounce the letter “L” at the time.
Years later, my husband and I moved to New England with our newborn baby. We bought our first home, a run-down farmhouse in the middle of Keene.
It was July, and in the middle of a major heat wave when we moved in. We only had one fan. Jon went off in the mornings to his air-conditioned office. I would lie on the floor panting in front of the fan, with Robin gazing at me with solemn eyes at my side.
We had a washing machine, but no dryer. I slogged out huge baskets of cloth diapers (yes, we fell for that ‘environmentally responsible’ crap), clothes towels and sheets to hang on the clothesline in our backyard.
One day, I hung our clothes out to dry. Before I could bring them inside, it rained.
I spun them in the washing machine, and hung them out to dry again.
It rained again.
And then they started to smell, because they’d been damp for so long.
So I washed them again, and hung them up once more.
They were barely dry when it started to sprinkle again. I dashed outside with Robin in her bouncy seat, and frantically began to fling everything into laundry baskets before it really poured.
Despite all the rain, it was still incredibly hot. The rains only seemed to increase the humidity.
The mosquitoes were fierce, and I alternated between smacking them off me and off Robin. She had developed a rash, and was prickly and bumpy. She was usually a happy baby, but not today. She fussed and cried as I raced the rain.
The lawn badly needed mowing–the weeds came up almost to my knees. The mosquitoes absolutely loved it. So did our cat, who repeatedly leaped out of the grass to pounce my ankles whenever I passed too close.
Halfway through unpinning sheets, I suddenly remembered that it was almost time for Jon to come home–and I had totally forgotten about dinner. There was nothing in the house to eat.
And the house was a total mess.
I thought of that day at Sue’s house.
When I called my mom that evening, I told her about my busy afternoon.
She said, “So you realized the dream wasn’t as wonderful as you thought it would be?”
“No, that’s not it at all”, I answered.
“I realized I was deliriously happy.