Life seems to be centered on waiting for the thing we don’t have, for an occurrence we wish would happen (right now), or for someone else to take the next step, so that we can move forward with our plans. There is an uncomfortable unnaturalness about waiting. We understand that it is part of how transactions with the other people around us work, but even so, we rail at invisible nothings, when nothing is happening. We realize there are times we have no control, that our expectations are not totted up in a gigantic scorebook, one which tracks life’s positives and negatives, and this fact does not make us happy.
This past summer has been defined by waiting. Our house is for sale, and we have purchased another; we wait to see who will buy ours, when will that transfer take place, so that we may begin again, to play house someplace else. Harrison, with a new college degree, waits for graduate school entrance test scores, and the opportunity to pursue further studies at a European University, if he is granted a residence permit in time to matriculate. He hovers over the choices, the potentials of where life might take him.
And Isabelle, she counts the days until she can go back to school.
It isn’t that she hates us, but she is a teenager. All of her friends are there, in the Mecca. They’ve been there all summer long, free-spirited and independent. She emails me a link (all the way from her bedroom), half in jest, to Buzzfeed.com, sharing a list of the sixteen obviously rational reasons (Mom!) why she has been driven to the point of near insanity by living in her parents’ house, after sampling one year of college in another state one thousand miles away from home.
By the time we are all packed up to take her back to school, I am ready to hit the road. It’s hot in Colorado, and we have recently been treated to one of our freakish hailstorms, the kind which consumes that inverted Bowl we call The Sky, creating a rolling barrage of destruction across the Plains, on one of those darkened-cloud days where swirling skies resemble The Wizard of Oz, but it’s not amusing, or even remotely charming (because there are no Munchkins, other than the collies), and it is our house which is at risk.
We leave for the westward drive, gazing back to look at our ravished house and garden. I don’t worry much about the flowers; once trimmed, they will revive. I will talk to them quietly, and I hope they will understand that no one controls the skies.
The skylights on our roof are another topic altogether. There are five of them, all shattered, a five-hole punch in the ceiling, and I perform a reverse rain dance daily, futilely negotiating with the clouds floating blithely above our heads during monsoon season, to please not rain. I know this is a call against nature, that in our part of the country, we want, no we need the moisture, to water the crops, to feed the world, but, it is my attic that will get soaked. We don’t venture up there much, but it’s a perfect spot to store things, the things we don’t need, right now. Like all of my son’s belongings from college, all that stuff, which is waiting to be transported to the next spot, wherever that may be.
So, we leave our home in the hands of the weather forecasters. Sometimes, it’s healthy to run away from home, for a little while. When you’re waiting for things to happen, at times, it’s good to be in the middle of nowhere.
We find ourselves there, soon enough. Our Chevy Suburban, The Great White Buffalo, (recently renamed The Great White Golfball, thanks to all the hail pocks) surges forward to its new home in Washington State; we’re allowing Isabelle a car, since she didn’t flunk out Freshman year. Even with its bulk, it dances a road waltz, following the highway’s dips and sways, in time to Sarah McLachlan, as she warbles Drifting,
You have been drifting for so long
I know you don’t want to come down
Somewhere below you, there’s people who love you
And they’re ready for you to come home, please come home
Lunch is a brief, dusty, stop in Sinclair, Wyoming, at a fifteen-table hole in the wall with a cracked and grimy sign outside advertising Pepsi in a logo dwarfing the name of the restaurant, and then we fly past the Flaming Gorge exit, and a billboard advertising the wonders of the Mummies of the World Exhibition, all the way on the edge of the continent, in Portland, Oregon. Dr. K wants to know what kind of mummies they have there, and I tell him, “Dead ones.” My mood isn’t the sunniest.
In the backseat, Isabelle’s conversation flits from one friend’s text to the next: for tonight’s dinner in Salt Lake City we’ll be joined by this college friend, and would it be okay if another one joined us for dinner in Walla Walla tomorrow? She’s kept a countdown on the mirror in her bathroom of the days until she can go back to school since the first day of summer break, but I don’t mind. Her happy chatter is a far cry from the worried silence of last August, as we drove her out west for the first year of college.
And then we find ourselves headed home, waiting again, on a small airplane. Hanging in the sky, all activity is suspended. The Sky Mall catalogue is my friend, and I leaf through it, even though I know I should be working on my novel, instead of this mindless activity. I feel trapped and gullible as we ride the jet stream of delusion, because I am still nowhere.
The catalogue on the tray table feeds on my weakened emotions, but in spite of them, I begin to giggle uncontrollably. “Do people really buy this stuff?” I ask Dr. K, pointing to the Inventor’s Corner, where you can purchase stick-on collars to ‘double the life’ of your dress shirt. It’s a bit like the license plate renewal stickers I stick on my car every fall, layer over layer, except that no one is looking at the ring around my license plates. There is an interesting contraption, called a rollie™ Eggmaster™, which claims it can cook raw eggs into cylinders, which seems odd, since there is no electrical plug, from what I can see in the ad. I could buy a new best friend, a Voice Activated R2-D2, which even reverts to an “occasional ‘bad mood’” mode, but considering that I’ve recently dropped off my teenaged daughter at school, I decide to pass on that opportunity. There is travel gear, hearing boosters, and shoes promising to cure my plantar fasciitis, but what takes me off the charts, and leaves me in helpless laughter, is the Porch Potty, Premium version. Are there people who are so gullible that they would consider buying a plastic container topped with “plush synthetic grass, scented fire hydrant, and outdoor self drainage” so their dogs can relieve themselves inside the house? Seriously? Even if I thought about purchasing the Premium version, the one with the embedded sprinklers and “automated rinse and drain system,” the one I can own for only $279.99 (plus a $5 delivery charge), would I truly be in my right mind?
Probably not, is what I’ve decided. There is an element of delusion that takes hold, when we find ourselves waiting for life to happen.
Back home again, I’m sitting at my desk, writing. Flopsy sits at my elbow, begging for a (dirty) Kleenex. Her breath smells like frog; I know she’s been munching on them. It’s still summer, and if you were a collie, wouldn’t you take advantage of the smorgasbord out in the yard?
She waits, patiently, knowing that I will eventually relent, and scoot a used Kleenex across my desk in her direction. I think she’s deluding herself; why would a dog want a Kleenex, when there are plenty of fresh frogs for the taking?
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @. Life inspired. Vodka tempered.