Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fairy Tales

In her clear, beautiful voice, Taylor Swift sings a song called, "Today Was a Fairy Tale," an anthem to young love, hope, and sweetness. It's a lovely tribute to first love, being young, and having the world at your feet. I love taylor Swift and her boundless optimism, and I usually can relate to her songs. Today, however, I felt quite the opposite.

The day started innocently enough: drive husband to work (we're still a one car family thanks to the suicide of Nana's '93 Volvo), head to Barnes and Noble for a much-needed book binge, head to mall for multiple June-birthday gifts, enjoy a sweet mother-daughter lunch at the Blue Stove, during which my normally picky eater devoured her meal with gusto. Though the day ran long and I was unable to attend a memorial service for a student's parent, it was, overall, a success.

Until a knock at the door, when my landlord told me we have exactly 30 days to vacate. His newly divorced son needs a place to live.

I can't decide if this is a blessing or a disaster; I've lived in this building for six years; I've lived in three different apartments with three combinations of people (alone, with my husband, and with our daughter). I conceived here, I lay pregnant here, watching the sunsets on the lake outside our window. I tossed and turned here, often awake at dawn with pregnancy-induced insomnia and a soon-to-be-born baby that thought twilight was party time. My water broke in our bedroom and I stood excited and nervous in our hall while telling my husband that "It's time!" We brought our newborn home to this address, and I continued my reign of sleep deprivation with some new friends; at 4 a.m., I watched street sweepers, early morning joggers, and trainees from the military reserves stride by from the safety of my porch. In those early morning hours, our apartment was a warm, safe, and cozy nest, high above the street, where my daughter learned to roll over, crawl, and creep around on the furniture. Living here, was at times, a fairy tale.

(Other times, it has been a nightmare, and for every room we've christened with newlywed romance, we've also screamed and fought. This apartment has seen every type of passion: great love, deep disappointment, intense anger, sheer regret. But that's a story for another day.)

Indeed, living here has had its issues: outlets that don't work, the annual insect crusade at the beginning of the summer, dated appliances, limited storage. We're surely outgrowing the space, and the sheer amount of things we've amassed leads me to believe that we may be featured on "Hoarders." My husband and I are constantly under each other's noses, which leads to irritation, and there is no man-town, library or dance studio to which to escape. The laundry is located in the basement, but we have to go outside to access it, which is a pain in every type of weather. In addition, it takes three trips to get one load done - one to carry it down, one to switch it out, and one to bring it back up. Coupled with a toddler and her subsequent laundry generating abilities, and I called in the troops: my mom would do it at her house.

Evidently, it's time to grow up, which is so ironic because I am a grown woman with a career and a family of my own. But I feel as helpless and insecure as a teenager. In college, I remember the uncertainty of our housing placement, and joking that we were "homeless" while waiting for the results of the housing lottery. Now, twenty years later, I'm thrown back into that uncertainty. Our journey to homeownership has been fraught with obstacles: indecision, parental involvement, insincere sellers. I have alternately loved and hated this apartment, yet I have compared almost every property we've seen to it as well. I've mourned the loss of closet space while loving the view and the proximity to the park and the center of town. With the accumulation of many of my grandmother's effects, the place is getting even smaller, and some days I want to fling the contents of my dresser onto the lawn, step over them, and drive away. It's been a complex time.

But I will miss it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Earthly Things

What started out as a desire to blog about my daughter's life has now become a quest for meaning and explanation. I'm 40 years old, I am accomplished and considered smart, and I spend a lot of time in wonder and amazement at the child I created. But I remain perplexed about so many things that I'm madly typing in the hope that some clarity will evolve. How serious? How true!

Today, my dad and spent time at my grandmother's house, sorting through her china cabinet and personal things, as she's living with my aunt, and dare, I say it, slowing down. How is it possible that life is reduced to just stuff? Just "earthly things?" I'd been thinking, "Oh, I need some Claritin, I should buy some," but having my dad hand me a cardboard carton with the contents of her medicine cabinet (ironically, Claritin included) made me never want to take it. All of her makeup was neatly, almost primly, labelled and organized, and yet, it was somehow awful, profane and vulgar. I felt bad for a long time, and visiting her made me happy and sad. She got so animated seeing Emerson zip around, and loved her sparkly sandals and long red hair, but when she turned to me and said, "I'm so frustrated. Why is this happening to me? This isn't me." I felt helpless. Here is a woman who was impeccable to the point of fanaticism in her grooming and presentation, now perched tiny and frail in a bathrobe. I promised to paint her nails when I see her next. She requested pink.