After what must have been about the millionth discussion we've had about matching socks,
I was inclined to put on some lingerie, march back into the room where my husband was and ask him
"Which would you rather have, a wife who dresses like this, or a wife that matches socks?"
But I already knew the answer.
"I was broken when I met you."
That's what he told me.
No. He was more like this magnificent, rare orange bird I found thrifting. Turned on it's side, under a bunch of junk and just odd enough that it hadn't attracted any attention on the shelf yet.
I grabbed it as soon as I saw it. Something that didn't belong just anywhere. Fragile. It looked like the sort of thing that should be in a pair, but I searched the whole store and couldn't find a mate.
I carefully checked it over, looking for flaws. I found the teeniest place where a fleck of gold was gone, missing a bit of luster and brightness, but other than that, perfect. Not broken at all.
Me: I wish I could write about that but I can't.
Pastor: Yes you can.
Me: That's the trouble. The really good stuff - the stuff you say - I can't write about it.
Pastor: Yes you can. You can write about it. You just can't write about it. You could write about it but not do anything with it.
Me: You mean like leave it in my journal, or on my computer?
Me: For Nate to find someday? That's the memory you want to leave him with?
I used to have this picture in our house. The Pastor hated it. He hates most knick knack paddywacks and anything that involves people (me) spending money (his) to acquire things.
Its not like I thought it was some great picture or it went with our decor (believe me, there's no rhyme or reason there).
I just liked the quote.
I thought by owning the picture and seeing the words I would actually have hope.
We also used to have a fancy dining room set. It was the first furniture the Pastor and I shopped for together. It was purchased back in the days when I still had hope. Hope that we were going to have a certain kind of life. Hope that we were fancy people who had a fancy life and darling children. A life that involved sitting in pretty chairs around a pretty table, probably eating some kind of cake. I was in denial about what our life was really like.
But then something happened. There was a shift. I can't explain it. I don't know why or how or when. It just happened.
I gave the dining room set away. I didn't literally give it away, but someone got a heck of a deal on Craigslist. I had grown to detest the furniture I had wanted and loved so much. Love had turned into hate. I can't tell you how anxious that furniture had made me. Who was going to put a glass on it without a coaster? Who was going to do their homework on it, digging through the notebook paper with their pencil and making hieroglyphics in the table top? I was sick and tired of cleaning the cream colored microfiber seats. I was on the verge of pulling a Betty Draper.
I got rid of the china cabinet and the chairs and the table and the protective table pad I hated. I only had one brief moment afterwards, when I thought "what have I done?" But that moment was quickly alleviated when I witnessed the 16 year old child, trying to "eat" a frozen Capri-Sun straight from the freezer (no thaw time) with a fork and knife, on the table surface of the remaining small table in our home.
I knew I had made the right decision.
It was liberating.
In fact it felt so good to get rid of the dining room furniture, I started getting rid of all excess furniture. I defined excess as anything that didn't have an occupant in the chair as I walked past it. I got rid of a recliner. Then another one. Then a love seat.
I moved on to smaller items. In this house, I'd never hung up the hope picture. Sometime between our last move and now, 15 months, I had shoved hope in a closet. I no longer wanted to look at it or be reminded that I was supposed to have it, but I wasn't quite ready to get rid of it.
But then I was.
At first I thought I should still get something out of having hope. I thought I'd list it on Craigslist. But it didn't take me very long. Sometime between snapping a pic and writing the ad, I gave up. I was done with hope. I put it in my trunk and immediately took it to Goodwill. I figured if anyone could use hope, it was them.
When I have had my fill of watching the inhabitants of this house destroy things, I go to a small office space I have been renting where no one can touch my things. Two weeks ago, I went to go have a productive day. I walked in the door and there was a black snake in the middle of the floor.
What else could I expect in a place I had decorated with owls, the messengers of death in Native American tales?
The snake did it for me. Today I packed up everything that was at my office. I don't think I can work there anymore. I feel like I will always be on edge. That I won't be able to listen to music that would drown out snake sounds or walk around barefoot and certainly not take a nap on the floor.
My office space is gone and I'm working on my house becoming an empty shell where a whole lot of furniture used to be. I have a "new" table, free, salvaged from a college science building. It has a hole in the middle where you put your bunsen burner. We surrounded this table with folding chairs, which one of the teenagers couldn't stand, so he took it upon himself to find different chairs. Fine by me! Now we have our meals sitting on indestructible seafoam green chairs that came from an elementary school in Aline, Oklahoma. I couldn't be happier. I figure if thousands of schoolchildren couldn't destroy these chairs, they should be safe in our house for a day or two.
I don't have hope anymore. I have something else. I'm not sure what it is. That's probably why it took me months to write the words "giving up hope" on a piece of paper. Hope feels like anticipation, like being excited. I don't know what's going to happen. I'd sit around and think about it, but I got rid of the chairs. And really, I'm ok with whatever the future holds, as long as there aren't any snakes involved.
Do you possess the caustic materials necessary to make your own soap? You know, soap. That stuff you can buy bars of at the Dollar Tree for $1. Or if you are super fancy, at Target you can get a big 'ol multi-pack of the stuff for an Abe Lincoln.
I guess I decided life wasn't complicated enough. Why else would a person in this day and age decide to make her own bars of soap?
These are the kinds of things that start happening when you don't have television and you begin to think, through boredom, it is a good idea to pay attention to random people on the World Wide Web. It's not like there are any crazies out there!
It started last week, when the Pastor sent me an ad he had found on Craigslist for a soap-making class (or murder entrapment scenario) in some guy's garage, $50. I thought the Pastor was suggesting we make a date out of it, $100. No, he said. We don't both need to go, just one of us. I guess neither of us felt comfortable with the soap maker/serial killer, and in the end, neither of us went. $0.
About a week later I saw something Pinteresting - a crackpot who had made soap in her crockpot. Perhaps this was a solution. We could learn to make soap while decreasing the odds that we would end up in the crawl space of someone's garage while doing it.
Seemed easy enough. I already had a crockpot. In fact, I have five crockpots. I could make a lot of soap if I wanted.
The necessary ingredients were procured, mixed, heated, poured and molded. No super fancy soap molds here, just Rubbermaid containers.
I'm not going to lye to you. Ha ha, see what I did there? It was fun. It is bizarre that something is drain cleaner one minute, and then magically transformed into something safe enough to use even on your most special places. If you are just buying your soap at the Dollar Tree, you are missing out on this mystical experience even if you are having another mystical experience entirely by witnessing the other people who shop there.
In the end the soap making venture cost $75 which came out to $5 per bar. If you are keeping track, that is 75 items at the Dollar Tree.
Unlike other projects I've done lately (making my own laundry detergent) this one was definitely not a cost-saving measure. As an added bonus, the equipment needed included a food scale. Nine years in Weight Watchers yet I had never before purchased a food scale. This explains so much. Did I mention I'm spending $13 a week to go to Weight Watchers? That's a lot of bars of soap.
Early testing has revealed the soap smells good, gets sudsy and cleans your body.
I know what you must be wondering now. Robyn, are you going to go to the crafty store to purchase soap molds, essential oils and embellishments? Will you form your own wildly successful soap making business with the Pastor? Or perhaps turn into one of those lucrative bloggers with fancy photos, a professional looking website, ad space and eventually a book deal?
But at least I will be clean, one way or another. Plus it turns out the Pastor finds the whole pioneer spirit of a woman who makes her own soap while wearing high-heeled, knee-length boots and false eyelashes with her apron and rubber gloves to be incredibly sexy.
And now you are caught up with what's been going on in the Parsonage - just good, clean fun.