ridiculous existence

As absurd as it sounds, on sunny autumn mornings when my kid is home from school—this time because the whole town's power went out in Sunday's storm bearing heavy rains and sixty-five-mile-an-hour winds—I follow him holding a large piece of cardboard as he crawls around, trying to thwart his incessant effort to stare at the sun. It is a ridiculous existence to be employed as his shadow, blocking the sun, stymieing his biting and banging, wiping his drool, spotting him up and down the stairs, catching him before he trips and falls. It is hard hanging out with a kid who can do almost nothing, especially when there is nothing to do.

Yesterday, we took a trip to the grocer. Once inside, Calvin had a mini tantrum, having not recognized the place since it was somewhat dark inside, the generators only able to run a few lights and a handful of registers. We couldn't buy dairy or meat or greens or anything frozen since the store was trying to preserve its resources. The lines were long, but two nice gentlemen, seeing me with my gimpy son peg-legging around in his boot splint and trying to bite every surface in sight, offered to let me cut in line. I gladly accepted their gesture.

As we left the store I told Calvin how proud and grateful I was for his compliance and patience. Hearing my praise, he gleefully stuck out his tongue and smiled. 

On the drive home I imagined there were plenty of folks complaining about their loss of power, about the roadblocks diverting traffic from downed trees and power lines, about damaged landscapes and houses. Standing in line in the darkened store had made me think of how goddamn lucky we are compared to people in places like Venezuela, Yemen, Puerto Rico, Iraq, Appalachia, Syria, Haiti and other places racked with war, genocide, disease, corruption, natural disasters and famine. We enjoy a ridiculous existence. We have a roof over our heads; the enormous spruce in our back yard, which had the top twenty-five feet of its three leaders ripped off in the storm, luckily missed our bedroom by mere feet. We have food in the pantry and running water. We have a neighbor who already chopped up the spruce and will soon be hauling it away. Michael has a studio up the road that has power. We have a wood stove for keeping us warm and a gas stove top for frying eggs and grilling bread and brewing coffee and warming milk and heating soup. We have cozy beds and pillows and comforters, and matches and candles and lanterns and flashlights and headlamps to see our way from room to room. We have medicine, wind-up clocks, dry shampoo, telephones, clean clothes, bourbon, and there's even some ice cubes left to pour it over. In addition to all we have, it is somehow luxurious to spend a day or two without email or social media or television news, and a quiet evening bathed in nothing but candlelight and warmth from a wood burning stove.

In other words, we have nothing to complain about, not even monotonous hours spent shadowing our kid as he makes countless loops around and around and around the house.

1 comment:

  1. So incredibly true and it is probably good to go without-- even when our "crisis" is so minor compared to other parts of the world-- just to be reminded of our "ridiculous existence"--- something we don't deserve and shouldn't complain about at all, ever.