My husband and I own a spiffy travel trailer I nicknamed LoulaBelle. Since the Pandemic started in March, we’ve only taken her out once, and that was relatively close by to a park in Bastrop, Texas. Otherwise we check on her periodically, make sure she’s still there, not leaking anything, and letting her feel less abandoned. We’ve had some great adventures with her.
Last September we were supposed to take another Viking River cruise in France. Of course the Pandemic put the kibosh on that. We hunger to travel yet are toeing the line by staying home and not straying further than grocery pickup or the gas station. The relief when we pull out of the driveway is palpable. I feel like that pig with the pinwheels in the insurance commercial and want to go wheeeeeee all the way to H-E-B. Only the threat of defrosting food keeps us from going AWOL. Things got so intense last Fall we went house hunting and had an offer accepted in a little town east of here, where our church is situated. Lucky for us that the sellers were greedy and unconcerned with major safety issues. So we stayed put, literally, and had a house that literally weathered the massive snow storm that rocked Texas. Weathered it well.
Back to the real world. We double our facemasks when we go out, listening to Dr. Fauci, and hoping to make it to our Covid-19 vaccination appointments without getting sick with it. It seems we’re just marking time until this horrific thing is over. Life on hold at our age is not a pretty prospect. Yet here we are.
I look longingly at our pictures to Bordeaux in 2018, the river views, views from medieval towns, of lazy orange cats watching a marketplace square with tourists walking by, of dinners on board with non Pasteurized French cheeses that must be the true food of the gods, of wines, port, and other delicious libations. Of lovely little shops with windows filled with whimsical chocolate mice and other creatures. An arcade in Bordeaux lined with tiny shops, including one with hats. I came away with three from there.
For now I celebrate our being well. Of being able to stay home. Of my children safe where they live in the West and East. Of my father-in-law and my husband’s extended family safe.
The snows melted here, the sun’s shining like it’s already spring. My flower bulbs survived the snow and ice and are perkily raising their leaves up in supplication to the azure sky. I think my new trees and the contents of my mini greenhouse are dead, but we can deal with that later.
And yet. Like others my brain is filled with a fog of the weather and Pandemics making. The other day it grew so foggy I missed a wonderful Zoom Sisters In Crime chapter’s short story workshop. I watched helplessly while lips moved and the presentation moved on. The solution came too late, and it was ridiculously easy, and my fault completely. Oh well. Hopefully there will be plenty of Zoom workshops, of visiting with friends and church. Of FaceTime and awkward video of people smushing into the camera’s view.
Our wanderlust is banked like fire for the night, for the future. For now it’s enough to dream, plan, and cocoon.
This week I participated in a particularly juicy Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime Chapter meeting. Nothing like opening up the human heart to ponder why people kill, and why mystery/thriller writing needs those bodies to show up.
Which made me think of my own close scrapes with death and danger, whether they be near drownings, car accidents, illness, and the like. I grew up petrified of water, and it wasn’t until someone pointed out a photograph of me in a wading pool that two and two equaled four. I had a relative who was not to be left with other grand kiddies in said wading pool after holding a few of us down under water. In the photograph the relative was beaming, the rest of the kiddos not so much. The explanation she gave for nearly drowning us? She wanted to teach us to swim. Yeah.
The same relative, whom I was too stupid to distrust, sped about our small town with me holding on for dear life as she attempted to fling me off her car hood. I can still see the laughing faces in the car. Yeah, no one stopped her then either.
But the big picture here is the deadly tightness of family loyalty at times, the unsaid oath to keep secrets and don’t stir up trouble, even if death’s involved. If you grow up in that toxic brew of a bath, you get gaslighted into believing creepy Uncle Walt really didn’t touch you inappropriately, that you imagined any number of horrible things. Like someone trying to kill you. They were just kidding around. Don’t make a fuss.
If you growth up with few or no needs being met, you learn how to scrabble for control, for food, for things, and suspect anyone who wants to love you. And if you’re lucky to have at least one person who loves you unconditionally, the loss of them is devastating.
I went through other close calls with death in my life, but each one left a mark, an unseen scar on my heart. The ones I went through as a child are the deepest and least easy to forget. I spent most of my life taking care of myself at the expense of my little family and friends. I’ve been selfish and self centered out of some primeval need for surviving. That’s no excuse though.
Who we are now in this moment, looking back at our mistakes, our sins, our regrets, can remake us whole. Forgiving ourselves and asking forgiveness when possible. Making mental and spiritual restitution to those who love us and want us in their lives, if possible. Forgiving, if possible, those monsters who preyed on us so that they no longer have a grip on our lives.
May we all find peace and love in our lives.