26 February 2010

Move Along

Jennifer Barko Serving The Queens

About 99.9 percent of the time, I'm ready to give up and cash it in. I look at all of our things, take cold showers and dig through possessions and I feel mostly like it's impossible, what has to happen next.

Like it cannot be done. Like I just don't have it in me to do this.

But that's just how I feel, not the truth.

Because the truth is, we do it all over again every day, right? In one way or another, we do. It's all small steps.

I sat down yesterday and pulled up a news page; I had no idea there were more earthquakes. Looking at those photos of devastation, I felt ridiculously petty and small. What if everyone just sat down and cried and kicked doors and didn't do jack about what was around them?

I'm looking at this like I look at a run. The first minute thinking there's no way I'll make it today, I hate running, why do I run? Then by the second time I hear, "When all ya gotta keep is strong, move along, move along," I remember why I run. And by the "face down in the dirt, she said 'this doesn't hurt,' " I have it in me to laugh and remember that I'm glad to be alive.

A few posts back, I wrote that I believed this year would be better than the last one. I wrote something along the lines of, "I'm a runner, it's my turn to run."

I still believe that.

And I've resorted to child labor, because I think, hey, if Apple and Nike make it work, I can too:

Abrielle Barko Jennifer BarkoYeah, that's Little A, running a shredder. Thank Bank of America for that one since they feel at liberty to keep making withdrawals from my checking account and giving it to random strangers, thereby forcing me to close my damn account and do all the shit that you have to do when closing an account. I know it looks bad, but she has a high tolerance for pain and I think fingers are mostly over-rated anyway.

We've taken to walking on floors that are littered with nails no matter how many times I sweep, or state: "Wear shoes at all times." No one listens to me and now I have the awesome comeback line of, "If only you'd listened to me, you wouldn't have lost your foot to tetanus." Which is pretty much the ultimate "I told you so," of parenting.

So there's that. And I'll take it.

Now move along.

The Things We Keep

I quit writing.

I quit writing on paper; I know; this isn't paper, but I quit putting it here. I was writing, always in my head, but time--time to write--if I'd have started writing, I may not have stopped.

So instead of not stopping, I never began.

What I was telling you in my head was that last year had been the worst of my life; that I'd lived through it.

I wanted to tell you that I awoke and found myself and then found my voice.

And that life can come and get me, and that I will be running right into it, as fast as I can.

There will be no more weeping in showers. I shall weep, make no mistake, but to hide and cower; no.

I don't remember the order, but I recall the crumbling.

I have to tell you, I might not remember much from what I write here tonight. I think the Ambien is kicking in; who knows; the post so long in the writing may never make it to post.

My house fell apart? Did I tell you that?

A sewer cap broke under the home and drained, for months, under the crawl space. The crawl space above my office. 

The whole house had to be emptied out and many possessions parted with, replaced, of course, those that could be. Mourned, always, those that couldn't. The bacteria wasn't something you could just wipe away. The house had to be gutted.

While going through all of my belongings, I decided to make "The Box". The box you would grab after your children, the box with pictures of childhood you'd stolen from your mothers albums and lied about, the pictures of your children, worn and torn and faded yellow.

The letters from those that you loved, the letters from your grandparents and the amazingly life-reinforcing cards created by your soul sister Beth. The box of things that you would keep, if you could only keep one. I kept thinking, if I had to grab one thing....

But I didn't.

It happened so fast.

I'd just gotten home from work; I'd worked late that night and I didn't have the girls; I was still in my boots and coat. I was reading a planner page and donning an eye patch and laughing, looking forward to Friday, the day I was going to see some of my dearest friends from childhood and help with their move; we'd made a joke about pirates and Orlando Bloom. I was laughing out loud.

The dog whined. I ignored her. She always whines. I began to cough. Not too odd; I cough a lot lately.

I began to smell smoke. I began to ignore the smoke that I smelled. "Could. Not. Be."

Within one minute, I heard the owners above me scrambling, yelling, calling for their pets. I ran to my door and as I opened it, C was standing there, yelling, "The house is on fire."

He was looking for their cat, their beautiful cat. I started to help him look, but after a minute it became impossible with the smoke. He ran back upstairs and I walked, calmly, through my apartment, grabbed my purse and walked outside.

I stood for five minutes when I began shaking, thinking about the box. Thinking what I'd been thinking as I packed it: "If I had to put my life in one box...."

I began to shake and weep as I thought of what I'd wanted to keep, on the floor in a closet; a cardboard box. I became sick. I tried to comfort the owners, but they too were in shock, murmuring about the wood fire and the fan and how quickly it started.

At some point, I called my sister. That is almost the last thing I remember. I remember the fireman that had seen me weeping under a tree carrying out a box, cardboard, wet and walk to me. "I can carry this to your car."

The driveway is long; there were ten, fifteen fire trucks? I assume that I walked it. I remember laughing about something and then crying and laughing and crying.

"I don't have underwear," I laughed and cried. I left that on my insurance agents voice mail.

I tried calling the owners to find out about Milo, to find out where they are, to find out about the next step. I laid here and cried; thankful for the lives spared, terrified of what remains and what doesn't, a box, in my car, of what I would take with me if I had to put my life into a box and run.

And I'm running. Running right into it. Not crying in the shower; I'll just stand and weep openly. Life, you'll have to take this one kicking and screaming. Come hell or high water; so far, I survived them both.