Yesterday was an uncomfortable one for me, but in a really confusing up-and-down sort of way.
It started with me driving the boys to their last day of summer school, because Maxwell had misplaced his backpack there somewhere at the end of the previous week and had not yet found it. I was determined that it had to be there somewhere and that we would find it before school ended, because it wasn’t our regular school and honestly, I don’t know when or if we’ll ever be back in that building.
Now, first: I should say (and probably have before) how much I despise losing things. Lost stuff makes me completely bonkers. I don’t know exactly what it is that rubs me so wrongly about losing items…the value/waste? The idea that ‘it should be there somewhere’? The notion that if I just looked hard enough, I’d find it? I’m not sure, but it’s like my life’s biggest pet peeve, losing things. And I know when it started: when I was in first grade. Yes. When I was in first grade, I walked to and from school. It was probably about 8 blocks or something, in a pretty peaceful portion of my small-ish suburban hometown. My dad had given me a small coin purse with a zippered top in which to keep my lunch ticket. I carried it back and forth each way daily, faithfully, safely transporting my red lunch ticket so I could eat my hot lunch. Except one day…I lost it. I had no idea where it had been lost, but I literally lay awake nights imagining it slowly being covered in dirt, decaying leaves, and underbrush along the roadside of 126th Street. I imagined it felt so sad, like I didn’t even care about it at all.
You can see, the experience is still fresh. And, as I’ve just confirmed time and time again here, I am incredibly weird.
Anyway, so the idea that my kids lose stuff ALL.THE.TIME makes me crazy. But I also don’t want them to be like me, because what parent wants their kids to lie awake at night crying over a tiny thing like a lost coin purse? Or even something larger, like a backpack? But also, why do my kids lose things so often? I almost feel like I had to take the job at school, just so I could keep a regular schedule of lost-and-found surveillance for my own family belongings. And wouldn’t you know…I could not find Maxwell’s relatively new, very nice backpack. We looked in lots of places together, and talked to many staff people (who all had heard about the missing backpack, proving that Max had been trying to find it, after all) and no dice. I walked out of the school, leaving Max to his last day, knowing that the backpack was just simply gone.
BUT HOW. HOW. THINGS DON’T JUST EVAPORATE.
Sorry. That just happens sometimes.
Joe told me later that Max had been really upset about it, talking earlier that morning as I was getting ready to go, and felt very guilty about having lost it. And see? That’s precisely why I wish I could stop being so neurotic about this stuff and just drop it. But I also want my kids to value and take care of their things more than they have, historically, so there’s the dichotomy. Sigh.
After the unsuccessful search, I came home and took my bike out for an inaugural ride. Let me say this: you might not ever FORGET how to ride a bike, but you sure can get TERRIBLE at riding a bike after a many, many years have lapsed. I still had a good time, though…lovely morning, fresh breeze, our beautiful lake paths to ride on.
Then when I got home, I could barely sit down. OUCH.
I did sit, though, long enough to book a flight for my upcoming trip to NYC to visit Brad. That made me feel even more buoyant than flying along under the tree canopy in my Union Jack helmet.
Then I went looking for school uniforms for my boys. Ugh, I hate shopping. Painful. And largely unsuccessful.
I met the boys off their bus, and heard about their last day. Ollie was full of exuberant news of his bakery field trip. Max is just relieved to sleep in past six A.M. Happy energy. I got the kids registered for summer swimming lessons. More happy energy.
Then the HVAC folks called and asked if we would be around for them to install a new part they’d determined we needed during last week’s crisis. It was a day earlier than planned but hey, it actually worked better for us. Joe was around then, so he would be able to hear first-hand about what was being fixed and what to do differently going forward. But when they got here…
That’s when the boom really got lowered. BOOM. Because the new part? Well, it wouldn’t actually do us much good because our whole furnace needs replacing. Yes. REALLY. Like, “cracks in a part that would give us all carbon monoxide poisoning and kill us” kind of a necessity. And if we’re getting a new furnace, we should consider a new AC because ours uses obsolete coolant that is getting really, really expensive to replace. So why pay for the new part when everything needs to be replaced and we should use our money toward that. In a nutshell.
The very nice HVAC guys stood by awkwardly while Joe watched for my reaction. My response to this news was, basically, to drink the second half of my dinner beer without stopping once to breathe or taste or swallow, even. The numbers flying around! Sweet baby Jeebus.
We ended up getting on the schedule for another guy (pricing guy) to come out and give us a complete and accurate estimate of our costs, and sent the guys away without replacing the part or doing anything except picking up their tools and leaving me to hyperventilate.
As we all drove out to buy two fans (our air is now completely offline), I was trying to explain to Joe why it is that these kinds of situations make me so, so uncomfortable. And as I recount this, and knowing who reads my blog, I feel the need to qualify this explanation first by saying: I love my family of origin. My folks are great and raised me and my brother to be responsible and nice.
But my folks are very…penny-pinching. With good reason! They did a great job getting us comfortably through times with little resources, something I came to appreciate even more during the years *I* was a stay-at-home mom myself. If I were a comedian, I would have a routine filled with “My folks are so cheap…” jokes. My dad, in particular, was infamous. Once he bought enormous bulk boxes (like, multiple 14-pound boxes, as I recall) of POLISH SAUSAGE. I swear to God that my mom was slipping Polish sausage into any possible recipe for at least 6 months. I can’t eat one to this day, but hey! They were such a good deal!
Okay, disclaimers given: I am a product of my upbringing. At the same time, I am a pretty logical person* so I can see the LOGIC in what these HVAC guys are suggesting with our system. But my family always drove our cars until they died on the side of the road. Minimal repairs were made as needed, but we didn’t trade it in for a new model unless it was utterly hopeless. I myself have never kept a car long enough to have to make that difficult decision…one more repair, or time to call it a day? Instead, I gave up my lease/had a baby/had more babies to necessitate my transitions. So now I’m (we’re) faced with this kind of choice in the furnace arena and I am incapacitated. My instinct is: just replace the thing you said you needed to and close it up. We will do it (new furnace) later. Stop looking at me like that! Of course I don’t want my family to die of carbon monoxide poisoning, but that’s what detectors are for! Stop looking at me like that!
The cheap part of me and the practical part of me are waging a war as I sit here, in the direct path of one of our new fans. Trying to stay cool, body and head.
*I maintain that it is, in fact, possible to be both logical and highly emotional. So there.