Well, I had another “great idea” and roped Spousal Unit into filling another weekend on a project that would change our lives. Bless his heart.
Like most people right now, I’m kind of losing my mind. Oh, I enjoy staying home. I’m a homebody. I also enjoy limited human contact. I’m more introverted than anybody knows. I especially enjoy ordering groceries online and they appear in our carport an hour or so later. As God as my witness, I may never step foot in a Kroger again.
It is canceling plans that I miss. The thrill of being wanted for something, whether it’s lunch with friends, a girl’s night out, or even a quilting class at Nashville’s continuing education program that is going to be slaughtered by the Metro School Board and Nashville’s city administration. There’s something very satisfying about making plans, realizing that it’s really just too much trouble to put on mascara and then canceling those very same plans.
Since COVID-19 entered our vernacular ,and quarantine entered our daily routine, I’ve not been provided the opportunity to cancel anything, except my monthly penance to an essential oil pyramid scheme. Don’t judge. We all have our moments of weakness. Anyway, I believe all of this uncanceling is making me a little. Ummm. Squirrely. Let’s just put it politely and say that I’ve had communications issues with my fellow human beings.
My mother often says, “When it seems like it’s everybody else, look at yourself.” Nine times out of ten, my mother is right, so I called her the other day and asked for clarification.
“Are you sure that sometimes it really isn’t everybody else? I mean, isn’t there a caveat to that particular bon mot?” My mother laughed. Not unkindly. But still. She laughed.
“It’s really feeling like it’s everybody else. Are you sure it isn’t everybody else. I really don’t think it’s meeeeeeee,” I whined. I’m 58 and can sound like a thirteen –year-old in a New York minute. I might have even stomped my foot.
“Well,” my mother paused. “Maybe?” I sighed. When she’s being this nice to me, I know I’m getting the sympathy vote and the “Her dad and I should have paid more attention to the signs when she was growing up” act. Damn. That means it really is me.
I started making amends. Man Child and Fiancée first. Apparently I’d made it awkward the week before at their house. Whatever that means. (I’m in full sixteen-year-old at this point.) Kicked the dirt with my toe and invited them over for a socially distant dinner.
Then I sat in a corner and thought about what I’d done. Art School Student has been very patient about being locked in a house with parents as opposed to living the art school life in Chicago. Perhaps I have not been as life affirming as I should be. I must make amends, so I listened to an entire conversation without interrupting to give advice. Every time I wanted to say, “Well maybe you shouldn’t hang upside down in a tree in our backyard in the middle of the night for a performance piece without your dad and me knowing that’s what you’re doing,” I bit my tongue and instead said Okay Boomer to my own old self. I am proud to announce that I only commented, “You could have accidentally hanged yourself and been there all night” one time and it was at the end of the conversation.
These generous gestures of mine filled me with good vibes and happy juju, so of course I decided to pay it forward. These are tough times. I am here to help. I am – by golly – HERE for you. Therefore, I shall install a Little Free Library for my neighborhood to enjoy. The walkers, joggers, strollers and cyclists on the street will exchange tomes and commence with delightful, socially-distant discussions on perfectly manicured lawns. Birds will twitter. Rainbows will extend across the sky. Eudora Welty will rise from the dead to tell me in her lovely southern drawl that I am the best thing to happen to literature since she first put pen to paper.
I have enough self awareness to know that if we try to build our own Little Free Library, the project will undoubtedly go the way of Daisy the Trailer. A project cast aside, rusting, sad, unfinished and unloved. I justified the expenditure by reminding myself that I’m not spending ANYTHING at Target right now and ordered a cute red library from the Little Free Library folks. It arrived on Friday, within four days of ordering it.
Poor, poor Spousal Unit. In making up to the rest of the world for my negative energy, I asked him to dedicate an entire Sunday to a project that had nothing to do with any goal he ever considered having.
He gamely masked and gloved up, went to the hardware store, got the parts necessary and put my cute little red library on a pole. We set a bench beside it and I excitedly emailed the nabes, “We have a FREE LITTLE LIBRARY!” I announced. “BOOKS!” I screamed. I waited for their responses like a kid waiting for the ice cream truck. Unfortunately, my excitement is far less contagious than COVID-19.
We have nice neighbors. Really nice people. Polite. Friendly, but not too much. I’m close to a couple and they responded with messages of excited participation. They’ve already put books in the library. I wiggled in my seat, waiting for more responses. This was going to be fun.
I got a really nice response from a neighbor whose late mother we loved dearly and for whom we’re considering naming our library. Because. Y’know. We name everything.
I got a few more responses. They were nice. Really nice. Polite. Friendly but not too. I don’t know that I was expecting cartwheels down the street, but I was surprised at the unenthusiastic replies. I told my close neighbor friends that I feel like a high school nerd who thought, “Ima throw a party with HAWAIIAN PUNCH! And CUPCAKES! And we’ll play CHARADES!” The cool kids come to the party, roll their eyes, then go smoke weed in the school parking lot.
I’m imagining our sweet Free Little Library, months from now, covered in dust and spiderwebs, like Mrs. Havisham, waiting for a day that never comes. Meanwhile, I shall remain inside, hoarding books that I don’t want to loan (preshhhhh-usssss), canceling plans that are never made, screaming at the news on television, and calling my mother.
“Are you sure it isn’t everybody else?”