I've had this odd sense of discontent all day. The weather is gray. The air is moist and the whole day has been of the verge of tears. The day, not me, And, as luck would have it, the day chose the minute I walked out of Kinko's clutching my box of color brochures on glossy paper to let go. The skies opened up and the rain poured down.
My co-worker and I had driven over to Kinko's together because she has a company credit card and I do not. We climbed into the car, the big raindrops having just started to dress us in polka dots, and watched as the neon oranges and purples of the FedEx Kinko's sign shimmered like a watercolor behind the curtain of rain.
"Figures," my co-worker said, almost as if to herself.
"Yeah, the timing......" I sighed in response and put the key in the ignition.
Rubbing her hands over the damp box she continued, "Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, things just don't line up on your side?"
I laughed. Oh, yeah.
Lately, that's been the perfect description for how I feel. It's hard to identify because it's the sense that powers beyond my control (and I'm all about the control) are messing with me in ways to keep me just on edge, out of sorts and slightly off kilter. No major blow ups. No disasters. No delivery of doom on the front door of the New Golden Manor. Just this feeling that things aren't quite right.
I suppose for me specifically it's a culmination of all that's been going with moving, a bout of illness, changes to my job, a longer commute, and the churn of people in and out of my life that's just a regular part of everyday existence. For our family, it's been the larger issue of the move, of course, spring activities, the closing down of the school year, lots of standardized testing, the end of The Dancer's high school years, the angst of her college decision, and the herky-jerky start up of baseball season during a very rainy spring.
Things just seem a bit.....off.
There's Garbo who is convinced that she's dying from swine flu. She's been watching coverage of the illness on videos of The Today Show and this morning asked me if I was aware that "swine flu had come to Georgia." My lack of running around in circles and screaming out of concern for her impending death did not much please her. She didn't laugh at all when I offered to don black clothing and wail like a banshee when the time did come to bid her farewell down the River Styx.
The Dancer, who drives Garbo to school each morning isn't helping matters by teasing her and telling Garbo that her nose is looking more porcine with each passing day. Garbo really is ill with a nasty cough, slight fever, stuffy nose and general blechiness that she caught from the germ ridden little goobers with whom she goes to school, but my highly specialized doctoring skills tell me that it's not worthy of wearing masks, no matter how fun and fashionable that would be.
The Actor has started to bark like Garbo. Naturally. He's been a barrel of laughs, first with a nasty case of poison ivy, then the stitches after an ill-fated balancing act on some pole during his walk to school. If he catches what Garbo has, it'll be ten times worse because that boy doesn't do anything small.
The Dancer has been battling her Achilles heel - literally. After several trips to the podiatrist for an exam and initial taping up (which I lovingly refer to as dinner and a show because her doctor is a multi-talented scream), follow up taping, then a visit to the general practitioner to see about an ugly rash left by the tape......all because she's in pain from DANCING ON HER TOES FOR HOURS A DAY! I mean, who knew that pushing the human body to its limits would cause one pain? At least her pain provides us the amusement of a daily visit from the basement when she brings her fancy orthopedic sling sock upstairs and utters those now famous words "Daddy, will you strap me in?" while I sit quietly chortling to myself, stifling strap on jokes that wouldn't make anyone but me laugh anyway.
The upside to The Dancer's rash and The Actor's poison ivy is that we have this steroid cream in the house that seems to have taken care of my unexplained and embarrassing rash. Me - talk to a doctor about that? Are you kidding?
MathMan is barking, too, when he's not messing with a crown that's come loose, that is. I look at him and he's all twitchy around his mouth as he tries to force the damn thing to stay in place. The real fun starts when he sneezes and has to catch the crown as it flies from his mouth. Hell, I'm afraid to kiss him for fear that I'll end up with an extra tooth in my head. Ewwwww! I know.
(At this point she rereads this post and realizes that this is exactly why she used to refrain from asking her grandparents how they were - they would tell you in excruciating detail, cataloging each pain, describing every ache, recounting lively tales of visits to any number of doctors offices and pharmacies, listing all medicines and their exact per dosage costs, and whipping out a slide projector to present supporting evidence of each ooze, drain, wound, hack into a tissue and bowel movement.)
While I'm at it, I will tell you that the contraband kitties remain petulantly confined to the basement, fighting over a coveted spot on The Dancer's bed and jockeying to be the first to climb onto the window sills when the blinds are raised and the windows flung open, complaining loudly at the door to be allowed to roam free in the upper floors of the house and behaving in a generally confused manner each evening when they are finally allowed to explore upstairs. They do that flattened out cat thing where they get all low to the ground and hold their ears high, checking for danger, I guess. Goofballs.
At the moment, aside from that itchy itch that I've now conquered, I'm doing well. I'm perpetually tired, but I've just accepted this as a way of being. I know the culprit - me. Too little sleep, a near starvation diet and not enough exercise. I don't even need my super specialized doctoring skills for that diagnosis.
Tonight I probably won't get the rest I need either. See, tomorrow is The Dancer's eighteenth birthday. I've been planning something quite special to celebrate and it's not going to lend itself terribly well to getting a good night's rest. But that's okay. My girl doesn't turn eighteen every day.
I've spent the last hour preparing the living room to look exactly like our apartment on Claremont Avenue in Chicago circa 1991. This is where labor started and where I remained through early labor. I've arranged the master bedroom to mimic the birthing room at Rush North Shore Hospital where The Dancer was born at exactly 1pm on May 7th.
As I re-enact the labor, delivery, and recovery I plan to walk the floors holding my back, watch the dvds of Northern Exposure and Working Girl that I rented for just this occasion, munch ice chips, pee twenty times, take showers, wake MathMan repeatedly to ask him "Do you think this could be it," lean over a bed and groan loudly that this back labor is not fun anymore while someone rolls tennis balls across my spine, pull my lower lip over my head and then throw up from the pain, inexpertly stick needles into my hands in an desperate attempt to insert an IV, and then, in an exhausted state, begging for pain medication and threatening to punch the next person who tells me to push one more time, finally giving up and shoving a vacuum into my vagina to suck out........well, whatever represents The newborn Dancer. Because as flattered as she was when I told her that I want to make a big deal out of her birthday, she refused to take part in the re-enactment when I explained my plan.
"No, no, hell no," came her stern refusal.
"But you can play the part of the midwife," I offered hopefully, smiling vaguely at the recollection of that day. It's true. You really do forget the pain*.
"No, mother. The whole thing is just......weird." And that was that.
I sat glumly, picking at lint on my Old Navy slacks. "Okay," I said. "But remind me to ask Daddy if he knows where the big silver mixing bowl is. I haven't seen it since we unpacked."
The Dancer stared at me silently, trying to read my face. "Why do you need the silver mixing bowl?" she asked slowly, almost afraid to know the answer.
I stood up and started rooting through the cabinets, searching for the bowl. "Because after you were born, that's what they put your placenta in. Daddy loves to tell that story...." I paused to see what she was doing after a thump diverted me away from my search. An overturned chair was all that greeted my questioning glance...........
*lie - you never forget. And if you're smart, you never let them forget either.