The only thing more disorienting than the activity of taking your life and loading it into boxes is the affiliated activity of deciding which parts of your life merit “box real estate”. My strategy has been not to look too closely at things, and try not to touch any one thing for very long. Inevitably there will be the wrong call here or there, but it is not to be helped….the countdown is on and it is ticking down FAST.
One lesson that Matt and I have learned from our experience with this house is that the decision to move out is often paired with the necessity for major home repairs and renovations, which upsets me not only because it is expensive, but also because as home sellers we by definition do not get to enjoy the fruits of our investments.
That in mind, yesterday I had the pleasure of sharing my day with a swarm of contractors who were only quiet when it came time to answer questions (each of which was greeted with a noncommittal shrug and a finger pointed at someone else). And I learned that the dirt underneath my basement floor, which I have never before seen (thankfully) has a rather nasty odor and that in general, the percussive song of jackhammers is about as soothing as having a death-metal band playing a lullaby.
Needless to say the constant noise and fetid aroma wafting from the nether reaches of my home was quite enough to drive me out of what is left of my mind, which is why when it came time to go to gymnastics I was READY to go. Three hours sitting in my quiet car waiting for practice to be over was infinitely preferable to another moment of staying in my chaotic, loud, increasingly box -filled house.
It was lovely and relaxing. Thursday is actually the one day a week that all three children have practice at the same time, so I do not have to entertain or listen to bored whining (or garbage pick for that matter). It is also an opportunity for some adult conversation, which I often take advantage of, but today I only craved silence. So after I ran a few necessary errands, I pushed my seat all the way back, opened the windows to admit the sweet (non-basement smelling) breeze, crossed my legs, plugged in my audiobook and got out my stitching. I spent the rest of my time happily listening to my story and blissfully stitching the tabby-striped foot of Frederick the cat who is whimsically sleeping between the (partially stitched) books on a bookcase.
As 8:15 rolled around, I packed up my stuff and prepared to gather my kids and head home. Owen practices at a different facility than his sisters, so I drove over there to pick him up and then returned to the main facility to get Ana and Frances.
Everyone dutifully filed out and piled into the car, and descended upon the bag of grapes and some cereal that I had for them to eat as a snack. I left the keys in the ignition so Ana and Owen could watch their movie in the car and ran over to have a quick chat with Victoria the girls’ coach (as well as a friend of mine). Our conversation lasted about 10 minutes, and would have lasted longer, but when Frances texted me to remind me that she had homework that still needed finishing I regretfully headed for the door.
I got into the car and turned the key…and nothing happened.
At first I could not believe that this could happen. After all, my car may not be a fancy luxury car, but it is fairly new and kept in good repair…so I tried again with the same result. I do not know much about cars, but this situation I knew how to diagnose because the Honda Pilot, of which I was a proud owner, is very prone to this particular issue.
The battery was dead.
I think I can chalk this one up to losing track of things, which is easy to do on a regular day but with my life upside down I think the risk is even higher. In any case, as far as I can reconstruct, the battery was killed by a combination of lights left on and DVD player in use with the car engine off for a grand total of about 10 minutes. I could go on about how ridiculous it is that the battery should die in such a short period even under such conditions, but that would not change the fact that it did, nor will it change the fact that I do NOT have jumper cables in my car.
A helpful stranger came and lifted the hood of the car, but since he did not have jumper cables either, and I have no idea what I am looking at, this did not help very much, no matter how well intentioned. In the end, I knew there was only one thing I could do that would be productive and that was to call Matt to come and rescue me.
For some obscure reason I can not fathom, the fact that the car would not start also made it utterly uninhabitable to the point that none of us even considered sitting in the car as we waited for Matt to arrive. So it was that I found myself standing in the cold, dark parking lot with my three shivering kids and Victoria, who decided to keep us company as we waited.
We stood huddled in a circle talking quietly about not much in particular except to wonder why Ana refused to put her sweatpants on over her leotard (which would have gone a long way towards helping her warm up). After about 20 minutes we suddenly realized how silly it was for us to stand around outside when we had the KEY TO THE GYM and could just as easily (and much more comfortably) wait inside.
So Victoria let us in, flicked on a light and I suddenly realized that I was in the gym, complete with trampolines, trapeze swings and all sorts of fun stuff, and we had it all to ourselves.
It was about a second before I processed that we were all by ourselves, and there was nobody watching to enforce the normal rules of gymnastics-parent conduct.
In a flash I was ecstatically bouncing on the bright yellow mesh trampoline that I have spent years jealously watching my kids enjoy but have never been able to use myself. I can definitively say that it was well worth the wait…I have been on trampolines, but this one totally takes the cake for sheer bounciness and fun. I went sailing up into the air, landed on my rear only to bounce back up to my feet….over and over, laughing harder each time I did it.
In short order, all three kids were squealing with laughter, not only at Mom’s antics, but also with the joy of playing together in this, the ultimate gymnast’s playground. Victoria and I sat and watched them, laughing together as we watched them.
The highlight of the interlude was when Frances buckled Owen into the tumbling harness over the trampoline, and hauled him up into the air where he howled with mirth and executed 5 very noisy backflips in a row. Frances was laughing so hard she could hardly hold him up, which made ME laugh because she was so busy having fun she forgot that she was a teenager and that her brother is a pest.
Matt arrived in due time, and got my car started (as I knew he would). Traditionally, a story of being stranded by a dead car should be a tale of woe, but I can say that this time I am glad that it happened because I got the chance to bounce.