The universe heard my rant. I had been afraid that by expressing angry thoughts and feelings, I would open up a sinkhole of negativity. But instead, it seems I may have helped restore some balance to my world.
The next day, I remained down. And then I hit another bottom. I stayed after school to make some phone calls, since I cannot from the basement apartment where we’ve been living since last January. Mind you. I repeat. I have not been able to make phone calls from “home” for 11 months.
So I’m at my teacher desk doing the usual: returning all the storm-related calls I cannot receive during the school day, and imploring—demanding—imploring. Today it is my inefficient new mortgage bank that puts me on hold.
And it’s Christmas music.
Absolutely abysmal crap, this Christmas music.
And yet it destroys me.
All the while I am sobbing on hold, I marvel that someone, presumably someone who fancies himself a music expert, has made these song selections. I marvel also that such drivel can move me at all. I should be grateful, I suppose, that I don’t have to bear Pavarotti’s O Holy Night or Judy Garland’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Blanca would have to wipe me up off the floor along with the specks of turkey and cranberry sauce from the day’s festivities.
But I weep. I want my mom. I wanna go home. Echoes of my dear sweet kindergarten babies. Isn’t that what we all want, always?
And there is what I don’t want. I don’t want to spend another Christmas season doing this. Doing this storm stuff. This paperwork stuff, this no-money stuff, this no-tree stuff. I AM A CHRISTMAS GEEK, MAN. I whine this, after hours, in my classroom, on hold; I wail my grievance. Then I hear Blanca moving down the hall and I pull myself together. She will be in my room soon to tidy up. I wipe my eyes just before she comes in and asks brightly, “You all ready for the holidays?”
It’s over. She does have to wipe me off the floor. I come “home” shmeared with sweet potato. And once here, I do what I can to save myself. I plop a mini candy cane into my coffee, mildly curious: Will it make me feel better or worse?
Better, I decide. A slight bit cheerier. I want to be. This misery just isn’t me. I need more good things like mini candy canes, only bigger.
Steve comes home, saying he has an apartment for us to see.
“Right now?” I ask.
“No, not right now.”
“OK, right now.”
I have a delightfully niggling feeling that this could be the jumbo candy cane I need.
Not only is it, but it’s actually super-sized! Our new apartment has TWO BEDROOMS. A FULL-SIZE fridge and stove. A DOUBLE closet! A kitchen table! A kitchen counter that EXTENDS beyond two inches! Upper cabinets AND lower cabinets. ISLAND cabinets! Am I dreaming? What could go wrong?
The bed. Our bed won’t fit, and we’ll have to continue to sleep on twin air mattresses.
“Nah, not an issue. Just took a queen outta there.”
The price. It’s unaffordable.
“Nah, I’m from here. I get what you’re goin through. I’m not chargin you that.”
Dogs. No dogs. No Lucy.
“Not a problem. These are different times, after Sandy.”
“Gonna need that cause of the dog, but you can pay in installments. I won’t ask for it up front. What with all the money you have to scrape up for the house, and the holidays comin’.”
“I’m from here. Ya gotta do what you can. We’re all in this together.”
Salt of the earth. Long Beach West End retired New York fire fighter to the rescue once again.
Gotta go straighten up. Landlord will be starting to show our room. Long live the Christmas playlist! Bring it on, Judy Garland.
All of you who are not home, or are in pain, or have lost someone, my wish for you this holiday season would be these words:
Let your heart be light.
May you feel it, at least once. Even just one stolen smile, one mini candy cane moment.
Listen to Judy.