Saturday, July 27, 2013

I stand here folding laundry.

...I'm actually sitting: I'm sitting in a pile of clean laundry in the basement at 2:37 AM, listening to music, drinking a Corona, and folding laundry--except I'm not folding and typing simultaneously. That would take some super-power skills I could only dream of.  Pathetic.  I dream of being able to do something I want to do and folding laundry at the same time?  Yes.  Yes I do.  That dream will certainly fester like a sore. Pathetic, I say!  I always have so much laundry to do, though, you see...  And laundry doesn't just get done, and go away.  It keeps burying me--might as well be falling from the sky, plopping directly on my head.

Every once in awhile, I rebel and don't do it.  I sometimes wish really hard that I won't have to wash 10 towels again today. It doesn't work.  I see towels dragged out of the neatly rolled stacks in the cabinet, onto the floor to wipe up water splashed out of the tub by the twins, or used to wipe hands or a nose and then left there on the floor.  I see a wet towel left on the bed or floor after Sam leaves for work.  I wonder why they do this to me?  Why?  Why don't you care that I hate seeing a new basket of dirty fucking laundry every day?

I'm tired.
Tillie Olsen wrote about standing and ironing, while thinking about her failures as a mother, and wishing she had more wisdom when she was younger... The wisdom of motherhood.  I am paralyzed, sometimes, by my failures as a mother and wife. Laundry seems to represent this. And, I clearly remember Mama ironing as she dreamed a dream deferred in A Raisin in the Sun.  Is laundry equivalent to shackles of "responsible" wives, mothers, women?

Oh, it's kind-of funny.  I don't talk about laundry in conversation, or complain about it verbally anymore.  It doesn't matter. Because I know that what I say goes in one ear and out the other, of everyone in my house...  No, it doesn't even go in an ear.  It's never heard.  I wonder if they even see my lips moving.  

Part of who I am is ever so slightly invisible, and I will be for the rest of my life.  I know that.  Freshly cleaned towels will dry hands once, slip off the towel ring onto the floor, and be in my basket in about 8 hours.  I know that I can write to no one, and feel like maybe someone is listening.  I know Sam often doesn't read what I write.  He forgets.  If anyone even reads this, I know I lost those readers with my third sentence.  Blah.  "What is this shit about?  Laundry?  I don't care about laundry."

I'm forgettable.  I'm forgettable.  I'm forgettable.  I'm forgettable. A forgettable failure?

When I was in high school, I was one of the girls that wasn't forgettable.  I'm not bragging.  It's not something I'm proud of.  I would rather have people say, "Weren't you Valedictorian?"  I wanted to be Anne of Green Gables.  I remember she asked Matthew, as they rode from the train station to meet Marilla for the first time, "Would you rather be dazzlingly clever, angelically good, or divinely beautiful?"  I'm not remembered for being dazzlingly clever or angelically good.  When do we become so forgettable?  Marriage?  Motherhood?  Do some women live their lives being completely unforgettable?  Nat King Cole sang that song to someone, I think.  He sounded sincere.

But, It's 3:07 AM, and I'm just glad I'm sitting on laundry.  I've been here before, alone in the basement--no one realizing I was missing--crying and laying on the pile of laundry.  This time, I guess I'm just glad it's clean laundry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roll and Rock, and Polkadots.

...  In the newest episode of The Adventures of Joanna and Stella:  Who's the Boss?

Roll and Rock, and Polkadots.
...Ah, our last day on the beach.  It turned out to be a scorcher.  It began overcast and ominous, yet we watched the gray clouds move over us, and the blue sky, first spotted in the distance over Nubble Lighthouse, win the battle for that day's weather forecast.  We would spend the day on the beach.  We had nowhere else to go now.  We had packed up and left the cottage that morning, as directed by our rental contract; some other family would soon take over the rooms we had dusted with sand and happiness over the last 7 days.

Yet, even though it seems there is no better place to spend a sunny July day, 6 year-old twins can tire of the beach, if mommy and daddy just want to relax.  No, we mustn't sit too long, or stretch out on the beach blanket, and get comfortable.  Sand castles must be constructed.  Shells and crabs must be collected.  Boogie-boarding must happen at least twice every hour, for at least 15 minutes per session.
It's wonderful.
I'm not one to lay about in the sun to get a tan, or shoo the children away, while I settle under an umbrella to read a throw-away novel, anyway.  Vacations are exhausting...  And sometimes dangerous!

Michael was bored, and because the tide was finally going out, I brought him over to "the rocks" where tide pools just last year yielded star fish, sea urchins, sea horses, shells, and crabs.  This year, we were lucky to find some little crabs and broken shells, but it was fun for them to hunt for treasures, and it was a break from sitting and playing in sand.  We were quite occupied, and I had even caught Michel a one-clawed-larger-sized crab, (which involved me making squealing/shrieking sounds of terror, and using my shovel to push it into the bucket).  Touch a crab?  Nope.

Sam's sister Sarah came over to give me a message from Sam, and offered to stay with Michael, and actually catch crabs with her hands, while I made my way back to our sprawling claim of space on the sand, including chairs, a blanket, towels, and a blue umbrella.  Before I had made it halfway there, Stella was running towards me, splashing up water around her, yelling, "Mommy, mommy, look what's behind you."  She appeared to be smiling, yet when someone runs towards me hollering that there is something behind me, I get a little nervous.  A shark...  What?  I spun around just as she reached me and grabbed my hand.  "Mommy, it's a wedding!"  Indeed, a bride, and the entire bridal party, had made its way down the ramp from Stage Neck Inn to have their photographs taken on the beach.  Stella wanted to watch from "the rocks," which meant we had to run back to the rocks very quickly, or risk ruining all their pictures with bikini beach photo-bombs.

We settled onto the rocks so Stella could marvel at it all.  She loves weddings.  She wants to be a flower girl very much.  She also already thinks about being a bride.  She chattered away about her thoughts on the dresses and the photo poses; the bridesmaids wore short, coral dresses, which she believed should have been longer and probably pink, when Michael asked to be returned to his daddy.  Sarah offered to bring him, since the rocks were quick hot from the sun, and she had to carefully wait for the right moment, when no pictures were being taken, to get Michael quickly through surf, and down the beach with his bucket of live crabs.  The wedding party soon ascended the ramp to begin the reception festivities, to Stella's dismay, and she had a new idea that she found to be equally exciting.

Stella wanted to climb the rocks next to York Harbor Beach on the right side facing the ocean.  Aunt Marguerite had done this yesterday with sneakers on, and fully outfitted for rock climbing.  I was in a navy blue, string, polka-dot bikini and barefoot.  Stella was in a little floral bikini and barefoot.  I decided there was no harm in going a little further out, because she kept saying, "Mommy, we are strong, we can do this no problem.  It will be a piece of cake."  She was also already picking her way around the rocks, before I had responded to her plea for adventure.

 ... It was just past high tide.  Only the higher rocks, you know, the rocks that require actual, real-life climbing, were exposed...

Yeah, we climbed that rock wall.  Oh no, we can't climb down that rock wall.
Peeking around the rocks, trying to figure out what other options we had than to keep climbing!
Mommy being indecisive, and also heckled by a 6 year old, wishing Sam was paying attention and would come over to save us.  (Oh wait, he was, he was just taking pictures instead of understanding the peril we were experiencing!)

We made our way around and I kept saying to 6 year-old Stella, "I think we had better turn around, this seems dangerous," yet little Stella insisted we were safe as can be, and that she really wanted to climb.  I declared decidedly that we must turn around, and she said, "Mommy, don't freak out, this is easy for me."  She used her serious, through her teeth voice, where the word mommy comes out in one sharp syllable.  She used the old hairy eyeball, a look she has perfected to be no less intimidating than the dagger stare of Miss Almira Gulch. She had her hands on her hips.  She meant business.  She scares me a little bit when she means business.  We kept climbing.

We got to a point where we had to turn back or figure out something drastic.  We (she) decided it was a good idea to climb the face of a rock formation that was completely vertical and at least 4 feet taller than me. She is a little spider monkey.  When we reached the top, I realized we could not get back down.

Water too deep, rocks under water too slippery... we're going for it.  Up, up, up.

Really?  Really!!!! 
Yup, it was steep.
News delivered that the path existed, but we were in for a big, fun treat...  Stella cowering from the pricker bushes.

So there were these guys that had swum over and easily walked to the top from a very easy route that we had no access to.  I asked them how deep the water was to see if I could swim her back, however they said it was 15 feet around the rocks, and although Stella believed I could swim with her on my back, this long distance, that was a no go. We realized we had to keep going all the way up to the top. We carefully worked our way up the rock formations, which became more and more challenging to maneuver.

We got very near the top and the guys were climbing back down to jump off into the water. I asked them if there was a path at the top that could get us safely to the beach, and they said yes, but it would lead us smack in the middle of a wedding reception.  One man said, "You will definitely be noticed, and it might be awkward."
I said, "Oh no, we can't do that."
He replied, "Honestly, I'd rather see you take her that way and be safe."
Thank ya stranger.

I knew it wasn't just unsafe to try and climb back down, it was really impossible to do without help.  I looked out across the beach trying to mindmeld with my husband.  Come.  Save us! 
Apparently he was taking pictures of the whole damn thing, and was absolutely amazed by our climb, and was not aware of any distress. I looked back at the path, and then down at Stella.  She was game for anything.  Hmmmm....  Maybe the guests and wedding party would be engaged in something so interesting and entertaining, they would be temporarily, yet completely unimpressed, by the clear blue summer sky blending into the majestic, churning Atlantic, for the few moments, (I hoped it would be only a short distance we would be crossing), we would suddenly offer some glaring exposed flesh contrast to the formalwear of the event, as we appeared at the top of the path.  I quietly asked God to please not have us photo-bomb wedding photos in a much more ridiculous manner than if we had just happened to be in the ocean while they were having a few pictures taken on the beach .  And we moved on.

No Eye Contact.  Just Run!

As we crested the top of the boulder, we saw "the path" was very narrow and lined with prickery brambles and sumac.  Of course I had to pick up my determined and stubborn Stella, and carry her through it.  As I walked slowly along, almost naked by normal, I am going to a wedding, non-beach standards, I dreaded coming to the precisely manicured and landscaped lawn.  Stella and I discussed our inevitable streaking mortification. She understood that I would be very under-dressed for the occasion, yet a child is always charming, even when she is a bikini-clad wedding crasher.  We saw the wedding reception at the Stage Neck Inn. We were going to be walking right through the grass where they have the reception, and there was no way to be inconspicuous. Stella and I strategized that we would make no eye contact and run like crazy barefoot and in our bikinis.  We got to the end of the path, I put her down.  We made eye contact, she might have even winked, and I said... "Run." We booked it, which must have made it more ridiculous for our audience and made us more conspicuous. I even slipped on the grass and started laughing, which didn't help. We did not have to cross any major wedding traditions, like the first dance, or more formal photos, but we did run past guests, and I could see quite a few coral flashes in the corner of my eye.
  No eye contact.  Don't even look.  Just run.

We were seen, to be sure, but we didn't stop running until our feet hit sand, and our bathing suits were proper dress code.

And you know, we survived, which I felt was a perilous situation, but I have to say, the only part that scared Stella, (and only a tiny bit), was running through the wedding reception.  Steep Rocky ledges and the mighty ocean weren't a damn thang to that little girl.