Wednesday, August 24, 2005


We went to a little park today. It was green, shaded, clean, with playgrounds and picnic tables and a nice beach on Wabassis Lake. The day is sunny, blue and green in shocking hues.

We waded in the water, shallow for a long way from the shore, and gathered snail shells; hoped we'd catch a slimy inhabitant still home. Most of them had flown the coop. Or swam the shell. We paddled the blow-up boat between buoys, in and out of the swim area. A young girl stood a short way down the beach, knee deep in water with a fishing pole.

Later I stood outside a closed stall in the women's restroom, Eliot inside, chattering away: Was I sure it was okay for him to go in the girls' bathroom, since the door on the men's room stall wouldn't close? Was I sure that I was standing directly outside the door? Was I sure nobody would see him?

"It's okay for you to be here, Eliot," I said. "You're a little boy and I'm your mommy. You're with me, it's okay. And nobody is going to see you."

I heard the toilet flush in the large handicapped stall next to Eliot's, and a lot of shuffling around. The door opened and a woman emerged, fighting a wheelchair and an awkward door, in too close quarters. In the chair she carried her own son but he was not a little boy. I saw his eyes rolled back in their sockets, his mouth was crooked and drooling, and his head turned upward toward the sky, like he was waiting for heaven to come down.

I said excuse me and moved from the front of Eliot's stall. The woman tried to pass in too great a hurry and swiped a metal garbage can with the chair, sent it rattling across the tile floor and banging the concrete wall. She hastily retrieved the can and set it in a more sensible place, behind the door. Her hurry wasn't angry or unkind, just tired. There's a kind of tired that makes you hurry; you start out carefully washing each dish but an hour later when you reach the last one you merely grace it with a tired, half-soapy wipe.

I wondered how a thousand of these bathroom trips would wear me if I knew they wouldn't end or how many of my hairs would gray as the little body on the toilet seat grew into a man's and the man never showed up to claim it.

And then they were gone, the tired mother and her angel-kissed son.

"uh-oh Mommy. I'm going to have to unlock the door, do you know why? Because I can't reach the toilet paper and I need you to get it for me." I waited while Eliot rocked himself down from the toilet seat and fumbled with the lock.

I decided not to tell him that once he'd gotten down off the toilet he could have easier got the paper himself. He'll figure it out someday. For now I'll let him need me.


laura said...

Nice story, Rae. I'm glad you aren't going to write book reports anymore. At least that's what your "surprised by joy" post looked like;)

Roo said... seemed the pen had been laid to rest - what has changed?

Rachael said...

Laura: You're a very funny girl.

Andrew: Haven't you ever heard of someone finding her soul in four weeks flat? I'm a quick study.

Actually, I don't know why I wrote that except that I wanted to capture something sad and precious that was trying pretty hard to elude me. I wrote to remind myself.

Also, I'm coming to see that it isn't writing itself that's insidious to my soul; it's a certain kind of writing. When I make social commentaries or vomit up "have to's" and "shoulds" and "how to's" and "I think's" then I'm left staring at my words the next day or hour and feeling sick because my real life isn't even a shadow of my words. A person can make insightful observations or offer wise words (and I sometimes tried to do that) but if she doesn't know these truths in the intimate, experiential sense of knowing, it is useless. I'm like a TV Evangelist who preaches the love of God but is motivated by greed and pride; a woman hearing his sermon may be touched and healed by the love of God but that hardly matters for him. He's going straight to hell.

Michael Ciani said...

Oh yes, I do believe TV evangelists are going straight to hell. (Well, maybe not all of them, but most of 'em look like goats to me.)
I'm reading a book right now for the third time called "Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism." I'm reading it to try to understand myself, where I came from, who I came from, what I came from. But last night I read about TV evangelists of the 80s, and so ... there's the connection. ;)
On a completely unrelated note, if you want to laugh really loud and hard, go see The Forty Year Old Virgin. It's raunchy with a sweet underlay, and it's freaking funny. Seriously. Saw The Wedding Crashers tonight (couldn't get Wicked tickets) and it wasn't half as funny as TFYOV.
On another completely unrelated note, if anyone's looking for some really good writing, check out The guy is brilliant. I once had a slight crush on him, but now I just like him for his mind.
Now I'll go...

laura said...

I was going to see "40 year old virgin" last night, but I had a horrible headache. Can't wait to see that movie.

laura said...

Btw- I watched "...Virgin" last night. Hysterical. A must see.