Last week was one of those weeks where everything seems to fall apart. I think it was mostly about the end of the school year, with all that entails, and the shift into summertime, with all that entails. There was just a touch of a sense of panic about life, which bleeds into all the regular household stuff, and work, too. Do you ever get that feeling, like you’re just on the verge of panic, and all it will take is one little thing to send you careening off into chaos?
Well, last Tuesday, chaos came to us. It was election day here in Massachusetts, a special election for senator, and a hotly contested local issue. Put those two together, and Nate and I both made it a point to get to the polls. I hustled everyone out the door early that morning to make it to the polls before school. The last day of school, as it happens. My day at work was crazy – many, many people scheduled in half-hour slots. I must have seen 12 people before rushing out the door to get home and get dinner on the table.
Jacob has been taking private trumpet lessons in the hopes of keeping up (and improving) his skills so that he can participate in the Jazz Band next year. Tuesday nights at 7 o’clock all summer. So I got the kids fed and desserted, and Nate called to say that he was a little late leaving work and he still had to vote. Looking at the clock, it looked like he would be about 10 minutes late, meaning that Jake and I would leave and Lydia and Aaron would be alone for 10 minutes before Nate got home. No problem – they were snuggled up together on the couch, munching on their apples, watching TV. Fine. Jake and I left, leaving instructions that they were not to go outside, and that Dad would be home in 10 minutes.
We are not far away when we are hit by a torrential thunderstorm. Buckets of rain, thunder, lightening – the whole shebang. This is what is happening at home: the power goes out. The smoke alarms, which are tied to the power, go to their battery back-ups, except the batteries are low, so they start beeping. And, in the case of one of them, the smoke alarm actually goes off for no apparent reason, with the whole flashing light, beep beep beep, FIRE FIRE FIRE! thing. Lydia and Aaron, being smart little things, head outside to the porch and dutifully wait for Dad. He does show up, as promised, right when he’s supposed to, and gets to work on smoke alarm mayhem. All ends up well. I’m just relieved they didn’t actually call 911. Can you imagine that call? “Where are your parents?” “Mom went out and Dad’s not home from work yet.” “And how old are you, little girl?”
So that’s a bad enough day, right? But it’s not over. Our lovely neighbors were away on vacation, and Jake is taking care of their backyard chickens while they’re gone. So when we got home from trumpet, he went over there to close them in for night, give them food and water, etc. It turned out they were out of food, and he needed to get into the house to refill their food container. But where is the key? We had the key the day before… where is it now? I look in all the regular key places. Not in any of them. I was the last person to have the key. I tried to remember the evening before – what had I been wearing? Did I have any pockets? What had I done right after the chickens? We tore the whole house apart. Nothing. I knocked on other neighbor’s doors that I thought might also have a key. Nothing. Another neighbor helped me look around outside for a possible hidden key. Nothing. We tried windows, we tried the bulkhead. Nothing. By now it’s almost 9 o’clock. I finally remember that there is another family on our block with chickens, so we knock on their door and beg some chicken feed so that we can at least keep the chickens from pecking each other overnight. I finally bit the bullet and texted our neighbors asking if there was anyone else with a key to their house. Apparently not – it’s just me. Why would any sane person allow ME to be the only person with a spare key to their house? So the plan is that if the key didn’t turn up by the next day, they would Fedex me a key. They were nice enough to not even sound perturbed about it.
So I’m standing in the kitchen, holding my head, wondering why my life is like this. I look up at the refrigerator, and what do I see? The effing key, EXACTLY where I put it the day before. I had clipped it to a refrigerator clip and stuck it on the fridge thinking, “This is the perfect place for the key. Now we’ll know where it is.” Which of course I remembered with perfect clarity the moment I spied it. “FOUND IT!”
And that, my friends, is why I should not be trusted to care for living creatures.