Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm distracted by blood on the counter

1.  Re-caulk the sink.

2.  Replace garbage disposal.

3.  Repaint walls.  

I’m trying to make notes for myself about what to repair or replace before we put the house on the market.  I write down the things the tenant mentions, but I’m distracted by blood on the counter. 

This house is haunted for me.  

It’s 2004 and I’m cooking dinner.  Buddy is on a business trip in New York.  As soon as the kids and I walk in the door Audrey throws off her sundress and starts dancing around the living room.  Grant is with me in the kitchen.  He has just learned to walk and he gets into everything.  

We are a young family on the cusp of everything.  I have recently started a career job with a great company.  Buddy is getting his MBA at a prestigious school. 

Grant reaches into the garbage can and pulls out a soup can.  The edges are sharp so I take it from him and as I do he shrieks.  I pick him up and take him to the sink.  It’s pouring blood.  It’s going to need stitches.  I press a clean dishcloth against the cut and balance Grant on one hip as I turn off the stove.  Then with my one free hand I drop Audrey’s dress over her head.  

Thank God for summer and sundresses.  

I’m going to need help driving to the hospital.  I go to the neighbor who has the highest radio of adults:children.  Thank God Wayne is home and is available to drive us to the emergency room.  

The four of us sit in shiny plastic chairs in the ER waiting room for hours.  I tell Wayne he can go on home but he entertains Audrey while I hold Grant, who has drifted off to sleep.  At first I worry that he’s going into shock or something but by this point it’s after his bedtime and he’s just plain tired.  

When we are called back for Grant’s stitches they apply topical anesthesia and begin threading the stitches through his finger.  

And he sleeps through the entire process.  

I am in awe of my baby boy’s constitution.  His fascination with all things sharp and shiny.  His tolerance for pain.  His propensity for sudden and deep slumber.  

Tonight I can cradle him head to foot in my arms.  I am grateful that injury, rescue and healing can all happen in the shelter of my wingspan.  

But, he is growing.  

My tenant and I ascend the stairs.  “I’ve shampooed the carpet every year but you might want to replace it now,” she says.

The carpet does look worn.  

We are standing on the carpet for the first time ever.  Construction on our new house is complete and we’re doing the final walk through with the builder.  We are brand new parents.  Audrey is just four weeks old.  

And we are brand new home owners.  



And then, our brand new baby throws up on our brand new carpet.  I hand Buddy a wet wipe and he drops to his knees and cleans it up.  Shocked and embarrassed, we apologize to the builder.  

He laughs.  “It’s your carpet now!” he says.  

Buddy and I look at each other and laugh.  Then I start to tear up.  It is our carpet.  It is our house.  It is our baby.  

We are proud.  

We are happy.  

And in a secret corner of my heart I worry that we are not worthy of being entrusted with carpeting or a mortgage or a baby. 

I am standing in the middle of this place which was once was my house and still is, sort of, but hasn’t been mine for years. 

Maybe it never was.  

I drive away and look at 942 Baines Street in my rearview mirror.  It looks so different than the day we moved in fourteen years ago.  

So so different than it did fourteen years ago.  

Then everything was new.  Everything worked.  The emphasis was on potential.  

When I lived here I could cradle my life in my wingspan.  

And then it grew.  

It grew and I couldn’t protect it.  

I couldn't protect it and couldn’t control it.    

And now …

The garbage disposal is broken.  The carpet is worn.  The walls need to be repainted.

And we are divorced.  We live on different continents.  Our babies fly as unaccompanied minors around the world so they can have a relationship with both of us.
And yet …

She still loves to dance in the living room after school.

Every night he falls into a deep and heavy, heavy slumber..


And still ...  


In a secret corner of my heart I worry that we were not worthy of being entrusted with carpeting or a mortgage or a baby.  




10 comments:

Forrest said...

I still remembered the story that you described about your new carpet in the new house in another blog several years ago.

Time flies. Lot of thing changed.

I felt sad.

Forrest said...

Just cannot find that blog. It is the time you bought the new apartment in Beijing. But, I remembered the story you told.

Melanie Gao said...

Hi Forrest! Thank you for remembering my stories. Please don't be sad. I'm happy I had those days as the mom of such a beautiful family. Things didn't turn out the way I thought they would but I believe it's all part of a plan. And it's fun to watch the plan unfold. I'm also happy that working in China and meeting you was part of the plan. I'm happy that you're my friend. :)

Melanie Gao said...

Wow, Forrest, look what I found. Even I had forgotten about this post from 2008. You have an amazing memory. So does google, fortunately.

https://blogs.oracle.com/melinchina/entry/home

Forrest said...

Yes, I can understand change is part of our life. But just cannot help feeling sad for the parting old time.

God bless you.

Forrest said...

Just review all your blog in Sun. Good memory rise up again. Thank, Melanie.

Anonymous said...

Such a sweet, thoughtful piece of prose. No bitterness...so beautifully written.

Melanie Gao said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anon. It's nice having you here.

bill webb said...

Melanie,

I am really enjoying your blog. Just caught up with the last three years. Your story is inspiring. Keep moving forward!

I like your writing and look forward to your adventures in 2015. Wishing you a happy 2015.

Bill Webb

Melanie Gao said...

Bill it's so nice to see you again! And thank you for appreciating my blog. I wish you and your family all the best for 2015 too. Hugs to you all.