Friday, September 21, 2012

Spiky Exposure

Carpet has been torn up in our new house everywhere.  Did I tell you we got our new house?  We did. I look forward to the day I'm calling it our home, but for now, it is the new house and is in the stage where it must look worse before it looks better as they tear out carpet, cracked tiles, chipped tub and warped linoleum.

That house is a little dangerous.  Prickly.  Little nails and staple spikes are scattered across the floor, shards of tile spill from the bathroom, unwanted glass shower doors lean against the wall.

It is unwelcoming, a bit chaotic, and a bit unpredictable.

But when it comes to the carpet, I am so grateful that we have pulled it all up with the pad. Animal stains we suspected have been confirmed and the damage assessed.  We found some mold that also needed to be bleached and "Killzed."

But this post is not about the trials and tribulations of home ownership and repair.  Many of you, I'm sure can relate, but it got me thinking about something else.

The carpets have sustained some serious damage.  And only by really exposing it down to its boards can we assess, repair and prevent.

Without turning our living room into a spiky mess, we would never have been able to enjoy it as a welcoming and inviting space.  The smells would linger.  Some would get worse.

All the Yankee Candle plug-in air fresheners, Fabreeze dousings, and cloying air sprays were only masking the much deeper issues.

Expose and eradicate.
Mask and fester.

Two choices for  our house.
Two choices for my heart.

This month we've sustained some serious damage.  In the aftermath of adversity my whole family has to decide now how to deal with the deck we've been dealt.  One of my instincts is to just cover it up.  Spray on a happy face, "fabreeze" it with a breezy attitude, and tell myself that time heals all wounds.

But is that true?  Doesn't healing heal wounds?
Here's the rub:

If I expose these parts that need to be addressed I become prickly.  Anger and grief mingle in me in chaotic, unpredictable ways.  I am not a welcoming refuge to the people who love me.  In fact, I'm as uninviting as a bare, spiky floorboard with random debris and undetermined damage points.  At one point last week this sensation was so acute, I did not even want Bill to touch me.  I felt like a hedgehog on full alert.

I'm not exactly sure what the spiritual equivalent to "Killz" is when it comes to taking care of emotional damage, but just smothering it with a kick in the pants to "buck up" is not it.

In the meantime, my own raw vulnerability makes me wonder how many angry people I have encountered who are not "what-a-jerks", but really folks who are in a spiritual remodel, letting their pain be exposed in uglier ways to make sure they can really address it before they move on.

Also in the meantime, books, mindless movies, chocolate and chai, eating out and taking it easy on my path of parenting excellence all make some pretty decent throw rugs.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


As my father-in-law has said on more than one occasion as our family story unfolds, "History has a way of repeating itself."

Her name was Janice.  I met her when I was five.  I found her homeland in The Illustrated Encyclopedia Britannica that held a place of honor in our home.  There it was, an illustrated map of Africa, with little icons of of what notables each region produced.  Sometime later, Janice immigrated to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and I would think of her fondly or give my family updates on her when we passed the stone structure I considered her home.

Janice and I kind of lost touch after awhile, but she was always such a faithful, obliging, imaginary friend, I still think of her fondly today.

Enter Lolly.

I started hearing about Lolly a few weeks ago when Landon wanted to cite who had taught him something or to attribute experience he wished he had to someone.  "Lolly knows how to fly a plane, Mom." or "I need to start learning math in a couple weeks.  Lolly knows Math."

Lolly is funny and mischievous with a real fondness for talking about all things poopy. Tonight I heard an elaborate story in which Lolly was caught in an elevator for four hours.  "She had to sleep in the elevator until a doctor came and fixed it and got her out."

"What did she think of that?"
"She thought it was funny."

Yep.  I bet she did. And now I'm pretty sure I know what happened to Janice.  She grew up and had a kid who became Landon's first imaginary friend.

The Dreamer and the Scientist

The tears came fast.  The tears were real.  I looked up with Landon to discover that his helium balloon had escaped the trunk and was well on its way to becoming a blue speck of a memory.

To everyone but him.

Tonight (three days later), as we were driving home Landon said, "That balloon is not going to Heaven, mom."

I suddenly recalled an unconsidered remark I had made about the balloon in my attempt to comfort him: "Bye, bye balloon.  He'll go to heaven."  (Yes, I personify everything like that. A childhood habit that still threads itself into my adult life.)  "We'll get another balloon sometime, buddy.  We're sorry that happened to you."  Even though it was small, nearly meaningless to me, I could tell Landon was sad.  It was his first run-in with the fleeting nature of helium balloons.

"You're right, buddy.  That was pretty far-fetched to say it was going to Heaven. Kinda far for one little balloon to go.  What do you think will happen to it?"

"I know what will happen to it."

I wait. I love to learn the things Landon 'knows.'

"When the gas comes out of that balloon it will come down and land back by the storage unit for us."

Dumbfounded silence.

I have been calling the storage unit, "a big garage thing we are keeping our stuff in" and not giving lessons on helium gas and its interactive properties with the permeable surface of a rubber balloon.

So who is this three-year-old who sorts it out with more realism than his whimsical mama who wants to imagine that blue balloon joining up with the "Balloon Ball in the Sky," by serendipitous invite only.  I want to imagine them all gathered in a swaying bouquet of wishes, each allowed to share who they are meant to honor, what party they graced, what carnival they attended. Our little blue one would chime in,  "I showed up at a guy's work and announced that  his wife is carrying a son.  You should have seen his grin, and the way he swooped his family up in a big family hug when he figured out why I came floating in!"

While I'm writing fairy tales about talking balloons going to Heaven my little investigator is quietly making sense of this world.

So would it be too mean if I tied another blue balloon to our storage unit with a note that says, "Loved the trip; glad to be back"?