Among my FB memories the other day was a post about coming out here — an hour’s drive from my old apartment — to have dinner with my parents, even though gas was nearly $4 a gallon. I remember those days. I very nearly bought a moped to ride to work because gas prices were so high. After picking up the groceries this week, R filled up my tank; with Kroger Plus card points, he says it came out to around 50 cents a gallon. Years ago I was on the road daily, and often put gas on a credit card so I could also afford food. Now we go nowhere, and gas is cheaper than it was when I was in high school.
I have reached the stage in quarantine/menopause/life where I pull out pajama pants that fit me two years ago and marvel that my butt was ever that small. Yet I stubbornly hang on to boxes of even smaller clothes that I’m going to fit back into someday, I swear. Whether those clothes will still be in style by that point is another matter entirely.
Recently I provided masked tech support to my mother, who needed help installing and setting up Zoom because her infectious disease doctor wants to conduct her checkup virtually. (But we’re opening up everything else. Makes sense.) My mother’s hair is longer than I ever remember seeing it; when I was 6 months old, she had her nearly waist-length hair cut short, and she’s worn the same hairstyle ever since. I think the longer hair looks good. Softer.
Speaking of hair, I trimmed my son’s a few weeks ago. Mostly I was just imitating what I saw his hairdresser do last time, but I think it turned out okay. I read some articles about it after the fact, and I did everything I was supposed to; it’s just that he is 5, and wiggly. The other day I asked if he would like a trim, as it’s getting in his eyes again. “Longer is better,” he told me.
It is summer. Not according to the calendar, or the stars, but because the weather says it is. If you’re trying to neatly divide the calendar into four seasons, May is firmly in Spring territory, but Southern summers are famous for overstepping their bounds. We went from weeks of gorgeous, unseasonably cool days to muggy, sweltering (swuggy? meltering?) early summer in the space of a weekend. In response to the heat, we got the sprinkler out Memorial Day — my suggestion, as the splash pad did not open this year because of the coronavirus and the kids were lamenting that we did not buy the house with the pool. (Truth: after seeing how our fish tank looks week to week, I refused to buy a house with a pool.) Then I saw a rash of IG posts from people who’ve recently purchased above-ground pools, including one with a pop-up canopy over part of the pool. Which, if you are a freckly, sunburn-prone person, is brilliant. So now I’m considering buying an above-ground pool and a canopy. Shh…don’t tell the kids.
“Mama, there’s a spider!” my son said, for the third time that day. We had pest control spray quarterly at our old house, because otherwise we’d have been overrun by the Aragog-sized wolf spiders that summered in the woods fringing the backyard but preferred to winter indoors. After we moved here, I waited a few months to determine whether we’d resume pest control, but since the spiders I saw were few and small, I decided against it. We had the house treated for termites shortly after we moved in, so it’s possible that was the reason for the lack of insects; this year it’s spiders a-go-go around here. I’m not crazy about them either, and usually I rescue my son from them, but Mama’s got things to do. “Get it yourself!” I reply, “Or ask Anya to!” Anya sucked up the offending arachnids(!), then told me it was not one spider, but two — and one was eating the other. Not sorry I missed that.
I’m ending the week in a state of mental and physical exhaustion. The pandemic, of course, colors everything. And then there’s George Floyd, the latest in a too-long list of infuriating assaults on African Americans. Brian Sims’ video about the PA House Republicans was confirmation that things can indeed get worse, and do, and are. I’ve recently discovered Hannah Gadsby, and I love her but damn did she stir up some bad memories. Homeschooling, even on the lighter schedule I came up with for this summer, has been a struggle, and I find myself alternating between feeling that I am doing ok and wondering how I can suck at it so badly…sometimes several times within the same 5-minute period. I keep trying to fill my cup, but some days it drains faster than I can fill it. Which is so not the note I was aiming for with this post, but I am also aiming for an authentic record of this time.
This time sucks.
It is not devoid of hope, however, so I will close with this photo of my son, which I snapped just after he handed me a dandelion seed — a wishing flower seed, he called it. So I could plant it and grow more wishes. I could do with a wishing garden, and more smiles like this.