Ever have a memory that one day makes you happy one day and sad the next? Yep, me too. I find they’re capable of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behavior. One day, they’ll make you smile and the next, tug at your heartstrings.
It’s the beginning of the covid (sorry, I refuse to capitalize his name) quarantine. I’m sitting here on my back porch looking out at the back yard. My yard is not that big and is bordered by a hammock that floats between two 50 foot oaks that have held me up for almost 30 years. Beyond the hammock is a common area field that few use besides me when I’m having an outdoor affair. Best part is, the HOA pays to cut the grass. I’ve never considered myself a visionary, but I had one when I found this place.
Our first Father’s Day here, I gave my husband, Jeff, the hammock. Turned out, I liked it better than he did. Who knew?
As I look around, I remember the shed he built one Saturday in the back yard. I walked out and handed him a drink. I looked at the frame he had built, commenting that I thought 9 x 12 would look bigger than it did. If I’ve ever seen a lightbulb go off in someone’s head, it was then. His eyes bulged as he realized he’d built the frame 8×10. In his defense, 9×12 was on one side of the blueprint, and 8×10 on the other. Poor guy. He ripped it apart and started over.
Then there’s the raised flower bed. Jeff was a mason by trade, but more than that, he was an artist. Especially when it came to laying stone. He built in the pond with the waterfall so I could have a little slice of Jamaica in the back yard. Over the years, the falls sprung a leak and he couldn’t fix it. Exit the waterfalls. I could live with a pond and fountain. A quality problem, for sure. And before you go thinking he’s a saint or anything, I did promise him a new four wheeler with my bonus money when he was finished. I now stand on my enclosed back porch and see the patio. Yes, he laid the pavers too, probably while I was sitting here in the a/c writing Stuck in the Onesies.
For whatever reason, I have often envisioned myself as an old lady living here and often joked the only way I would move out was feet first. I could see myself with long hair pulled up behind my neck. Now, covid is happening. Even my hair is growing past my shoulders for the first time in twenty years and I can pull it back where before I couldn’t. Strange to think I’m that old lady now, but if the shoe fits…
Jeff bought the fire pit for me for Mother’s Day ten years ago because I didn’t like campfire smoke when we installed our RV in a Chincoteague campground. I know, POOP, Princess of Ocean Pines, that’s me.
Then there’s the back porch that was once a plain old deck. We screened it in and we eventually added windows. I say “we,” because it was my idea and he did all the heavy lifting. That’s the way it works, right?
When Jeff was in a hospital bed recovering from heart surgery on the back porch, we installed HVAC. He watched Lost on DVD and I worked at my desk at the opposite side of the room with my back to the TV. Okay, I watched Lost from the eyes in the back of my head. Loved that series.
Then I wanted to remodel the kitchen. When our family would gather for a holiday, we would have as many as 17 people in our little home. The house became too small. I wanted to knock out a wall and get rid of the island. He was convinced it would cost too much. I guess that’s understandable when you’ve never spent more than 30 minutes in a kitchen at any one given time, meaning he didn’t do much of the cooking.
When the stock market took a dive in 2008, I realized we’d lost enough to build three kitchens. We remodeled not long after that. Chalk one up for an economic downturn. He fussed and complained every step for about half the way through the project. First, there was the off-white versus white appliance issue (he never wanted to hear the word, “bisque” again). By the time we were done, it was like it was all his idea. I later asked him when he changed his mind about the kitchen. He said when he laid the tile on the pass-through and did the back splash, he felt as if he had a part in things. If I’d known that, we could have done the tile first…
Sitting on the back porch, I look through the French doors to the dining room, all the way through the living room. The Kwanzan cherry tree in the front yard bloomed for about ten days, creating the illusion of the living room wall being totally pink from my point of view. In previous years, I’d only been able to enjoy the tree when outside, pulling into the driveway before. Just goes to prove, one’s point of view can make a huge difference in your perception. Don’t like what life’s giving you? Turn and look in the other direction. You might just be surprised at what you see.
Then, we had a windy day and all the pedals fell to the ground covering the front yard in a pink snow. Bare limbs gave way to green leaves providing shade. God thought of everything.
Other things can change when you’re looking from the inside out. With time on my hands, I’ve had a real chance to reflect (no little kids to home school, thankfully). I am so amazed as I look back on my life to see how this little house has evolved into such a sanctuary. I can hang out in my backyard and see no one most days. As the quarantine drones on, (it’s now Memorial Day weekend), there is more sound in the distance which is reassuring. The birds sing sweet songs of reunion as they build their nests and settle in once again. The squirrel are complaining about being invaded, but no one listens.
My biggest fear with covid is a loss of freedom. Freedom to join in with my family and friends. When we think about freedom in this country, we assume it is about being able to go wherever we want, when we want, but things have changed. That option is currently off the table.
I will live with respect to covid, but I will not let it deny me of the few years (if that) that I have left to live. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, just ask George Floyd (blog in the works). I will not hide in my house and never leave. I will give Mr. covid his respect that is due in that I will take intelligent measures to ward him off, but, if I get sick, I get sick. God can decide what to do with me after that.
Now it’s two months into covid and the country is on fire with riots and looting. I can’t believe I’ve lived long enough to witness Washington, D.C. burning twice. I didn’t understand it when I was twelve, as a kid in my book, Stuck in the Onesies, and still don’t, but now, 50 plus years later, I realize while some things did change for the better with regards to race, much of it got worse. Like filling our prisons with black people. It reminds me of what Jeff used to say all the time (he was a masonry teacher at a MD state prison). He said here was total inequity in the sentences doled out between black and white prisoners. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the documentary on Netflix called “Thirteenth.” It chronicles the criminalization of African Americans and the US prison boom. I hope it becomes required watching for students in high schools everywhere.
Covid is still with us, an unwelcome guest, but somehow he’s managed to teach me something. He’s shown me that if I continue to look at things as I always have, I’ll miss so much. He’s shown me that if I look at things from the inside out instead of on the outside looking in, I will be amazed.
He’s shown me that even he, Mr. covid can almost disappear in the face of ugly racism. Nobody is talking about him anymore. He’s shown me that people in the generations following mine will make sure that change occurs and “all men are created equal.” He’s shown me how to see who I am from the inside out. Maybe in some way, I can make a difference for someone that doesn’t have the white privilege I’ve been given.
While I’ve witnessed all the changes made to my little home over 30 years, I’m left to face the fact that not enough change has occurred in our society since the days of Stuck in the Onesies in the 1960s. For those that don’t know the phrase “Stuck in the Onesies,” it’s from playing the game of jacks. If you get stuck in the onesies, you’re forever playing catch up. I pray that while we have been “stuck in the onesies” for so much of the past 50 years with regards to race, together, as Americans we can link arms, forge ahead, and one day reach the Tensies of equality, leaving Mr. covid behind in onesies forever.