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Of recklessness and water

May 14, 2010

Amazingly, the Spy family managed to regain its collective good humor yesterday. This morning’s news tells me that we had somewhere just shy of 4 inches of rain between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Since it had already been raining for several days, there was nowhere for all this water to go. The stream rose by a good 6 or 7 feet. When the kids got home from school, they all ran out back to watch it. They’ve never seen it flow so fast. AJ ran out after dinner too and came back muddy up to his eyeballs. “I wonder if I put a boat in it how fast it would get to the river.”

“I’m not sure you can move fast enough to find out.”

Yesterday, Mr. Spy and I needed computer supplies and needed to drive to the Apple store about a half an hour away. I’m really not sure why there’s an Apple store in this particular location. Most of their stores are in big cities or at least big shopping malls and this one is not big at all. But it’s great for me because it’s much less crowded than the one a half an hour in the other direction and I can get almost all the way there by driving through scenic country roads. Except that yesterday, many of these roads were underwater. Therefore we took many unexpected detours. The number of lakes where there were previously none was truly amazing. We felt lucky. A few drips through the ceiling, which has now completely dried out and left no stain of any kind, seems minor.

We celebrated later with a cocktail hour before dinner. Mr. Spy and I had tiny martini glasses of this, a house favorite (minus the rosewater, which we haven’t gotten around to purchasing) and AJ got a plastic picnic wine glass full of sparkling pomegranate juice and we all toasted our collective good fortune.

In fairness to the house, after maligning it yesterday, I thought I should put in a few good words for it as well. It is the place AJ learned to walk — right over there, by the coffee table, I think. I”m not entirely sure. I don’t exactly remember, but I know the house does. It’s the place he first slept in his “big boy bed.” When we eventually move, I will miss his room the most. I remember all the hours we spent removing its original floral wallpaper (which had apparently been glued on with industrial strength superglue) and pink paint. It looked picture perfect then, but I love it better now, with the walls covered with AJ’s drawings and posters and his bulletin board full of ribbons and postcards and other important things. I love his worn out quilt, with the batting starting to show through. He’ll want a more grown up one next, but I’ll miss this one, appliqued with images of sports equipment, that he loved so much when we picked it out together. I love the tent in the corner that my brother gave him for his first birthday (or was it his second?) that now corrals his Playmobil sets and their million and one tiny pieces that I’m forever sucking up in the vacuum (when, that is, I bother to vacuum at all). I love the work nook we made between two bookshelves for his desk and the corner spot behind it which is now full of a bean bag chair and floor pillows and his electric guitar. That corner, at least, is showing signs of the teenager he’ll become in fewer years than seems possible.

I love that our house has windows everywhere. I love that it’s not too big, but has enough corners for the genetically solitary Spys to get away from each other. I love my garden. I love the butterfly garden I planted by the stop sign. I love the wildflowers in the spring. I love the irises along the stream. I love my vegetable garden best. It is the tidiest of the gardens, with its neat rows of tomatoes and its orderly row of string tied to the deck rail and pegged into the ground for my beans and peas to climb. I love the stealth dahlias lurking behind the asparagus. I always forget about them until suddenly, there they are. I love that every year we try to grow sunflowers and every year they are nowhere to be seen. I love that every year we think, “This will be the year.” We are uncowed by our failures.

I love the cool woods on a hot summer day. I love the fort AJ and I are building out of dead branches leaning against an old tree growing sideways. I love the most fantastic, most enormous trillium grows right in the middle of that fort every spring. I love cutting flowers and leaves and bringing them into the house. I love the porch where we sit on summer nights, listening to the ball game while AJ runs around the yard playing ball with his friends or sometimes catching fireflies. I love walking out on the deck at night with AJ to look at the stars, even in the winter. I love standing in the middle of the lawn in the middle of the summer, barefoot. I love the sound of the frogs at night.

And yes, I even love that crazy bathroom, the one with the leaking skylight, its Swedish sauna walls, its black floral nightmare wallpaper, its hideous beige flowery floor tile, its wall tiles of pixelated fake green marble, its ugly mauve stained glass (obviously handmade with care in an unusual shape, probably at great expense to someone), and especially its outrageous Cedar and plywood inlaid wall of palm trees and islands and seagulls. We keep saying we will redecorate, but we never do. It would be like forcing that crazy aunt of yours to stop wearing hats and striped tights covered in cat fur and instead dress her in a boring grey suit with sensible shoes.

I think it is all these things and more that make me feel, when something with the house goes wrong or needs attention, that it has turned on me. I feel cast down, rejected. I assume the worst of intentions. My standards are, perhaps, too high. But I cannot bear for the house to be distressing. I need it to hold together, because it holds us together. Someday, some other place will keep us safe, but right now, I’m having trouble imagining it, even as I’m starting to plan it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 14, 2010 7:49 pm

    Your cocktail sounds delicious. Did you use the star martini glasses?

    You write about your house so eloquently. Even the tiki bathroom.

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