Opening note: Unexpectedly Dee and I are both ill, so nothing got done yesterday aside from articles I needed to write-up for the new education blog (live soon). I don’t know what losing a day will do and I am going on holiday with the family next week, so factor that. Comment or suggestion as you please. It’s a rough draft but for a couple of chapters I wrote long ago and plan to work in.
It’s a Trailer Park Kinda Life
Karen’s divorce finalized just after the start of the new year. The for sale sign which had popped up in the yard in the fall after her husband, John, had moved in with the 20-year-old Hooters waitress he’d knocked up became a sold sign. And just like that another of life’s foundations shifted uneasily beneath the weight of Julie’s world. Six months earlier, the four of them cranked up the grills every Friday night, potlucking between patios while their teenage children raided the grilled goodies and disappeared into sticky August evenings. Fifteen years left little new to discuss but plenty of memories to rehash. Without trying Julie realized she’d become the mother half of her parents. She recalled summer nights playing kick the can until the fireflies were the only illumination in the fenceless backyards that made up the playing field while her parents and her friends’ parents laughed, drank and played cards. They hosted by turns, but the formula never varied. Seared meats, a relish tray, chips and an assortment of homemade desserts to sample.
Karen and John had moved into the house next door after a rapid succession of renters pushed Jimmy into putting up a privacy fence that exceeded the subdivision’s code by an even two feet.
“Someone’s going to turn you in,” Julie pointed out. Rules were immutable in her worldview but from Jimmy’s vantage they were flexible to the point of being guidelines at best.
“That’s what a saw is for,” he told her.
No hurt. No foul.
And then the rental agency, tired perhaps of the revolving door, abruptly sold it. Karen was pregnant with Roth and dragging her four-year old Bailey from the car when they met. Julie, a newlywed and struggling instant mom of a five-year old girl, instantly recognized her kindred spirit trapped inside the body of a stay at home mother.
“I hate this,” she told Julie. “I shouldn’t be moving away when you guys need me.”
“You moving two blocks,” Julie said. “I think we’ll be okay.”
“That’s not the point,” Karen said. “None of this should have happened the way it has.”
They were in the kitchen like Custer at the Little Bighorn by half-packed boxes mocking their attempt to divvy up 18 years worth of Correll, Pampered Chef and Tupperware. The boxes were labeled “me” and “douchebag”. Douchebag’s boxes were brimming with the tattered and mis-matched.
“If it’s ugly, stained or came from his mother, put it in those boxes,” Karen had instructed.
Julie didn’t comment on her friend’s observation. The day after Jimmy’s diagnosis, she’d decided that dwelling on thoughts about fair or what should be would only be distracting and in the kind of way that turns a woman into a bitter cat lady. Fatally jaded and living among creatures that would lick anything off themselves was not a healthy life’s path in her opinion.
“Dave should be dying and not Jimmy,” Karen said.
“Don’t say that,” Julie said quietly as she sorted through the flatware. There were no fewer than three complete sets in the drawer. Her own cutlery drawer harbored fugitives from nearly every stage of her adult life. Spoons from the Currier Hall dining room. Two matching place settings she’d bought from a next door neighbor of her parents who held a garage sale that summer before she’d moved to Nogales for her first teaching job. And the garish Fiestaware inspired survivors she’d schleped back two years later when the job market loosened and she finally found a position at the local high school where she’d taught on and off ever since.
“Why not?” her friend countered. “It’s true. No one will miss Dave. Except for that idiot minded little slut who thinks a forty something with an ex and two kids is the romantic equivalent of the Powerball and our equally without taste dog. Even the boys won’t talk to him and they’ve pretty much forgiven him every asinine thing he’s ever done until now.”
“You make it sound like some people deserve to die and others are too good for it.”
“And that’s not true?” Karen didn’t look up from her seat on the pantry floor where she was arbitrarily assigning the generics to her ex-husband’s boxes of foodstuffs.
“He’s making you divide up the food?” Julie asked.
“No, it’s just easier than making a run to the food pantry today, and you didn’t answer my question,” Karen replied.
“No, I didn’t,” Julie said as she dumped all the utensils into a douche box. “Let’s just go to Target and get you a new kitchen.”
She didn’t want to debate the ideas of a destined universe without karmic overtones versus a chaotic, uncaring one. It really didn’t matter in light of reality. What is mattered and what should be was the stuff of Disney Princess movies.
Karen looked up, beaming.
“What an excellent idea.”