On my grade school playground the longest line was always for the merry-go-round. To be in line next to the fastest boy was good because he would always be the one to spin us all around in the fastest way possible. The “scaredy-cats” in dresses would choose to ride in the middle. Those wanting to get the maximum thrill would hold on with both hands while tilting their heads backwards as far as possible. Opened eyes would produce nausea but eyes closed tightly captured the full spinning sensation.
Today I held onto life with knuckle-whitening tightness, and I felt so out-of-control. I spun to next fall when Stuart was gone to college. People I love were dead. Dreams I had held onto since childhood were buried beneath a pile of dirty laundry so hidden that I could no longer find them. My house was quiet … and clean … and lonely. I wished I could move closer to the center where the spinning was much slower. I wished for hamsters on squeaky wheels, loud techno music, Good Night Moon, and my boys laughing at how I couldn’t finish Charlotte’s Web or The Giving Tree without crying.
Where did all the swords and pirate patches go? Why don’t I suck up barrel-of-monkeys and air soft bb’s in my vacuum any more? Takers for Saturday night cards are difficult to find. Suggesting an air guitar contest (like when every contestant voted for themselves and didn’t realize that Mom was the tie-breaker) would produce my kids calling an ambulance for transportation to that special floor where all the Jesus’ and Napoleons are kept in separate hallways so they don’t meet each other.
When we did the biannual basement cleaning, my 9th grader told me to toss the sled because no one would ever use it again. Irritated by the suggestion, I told him it didn’t snow last year and this winter I planned to ride the sled down the hill myself. Through the years, the basement had been the scene of many a chemistry set experiment. It was there that action figures were melted, mutilated, and morphed. The basement lab had produced Batman with three arms and soldiers with dinosaur tail … scary stuff. Speaking of “spooky” it had been the trap door (hidden beneath a dusty braided rug) leading down a crude ladder to the room below the basement that had convinced the guys this house must be the new Kinleystead.
There’s a teenager with hair over his eyes in the room where my freckled-faced Stu likes to read Hardy Boys books. Did I talk to my son the West Point Cadet an hour ago? Not possible, I just walked past the dining room table where he is struggling to finish a report which requires cursive writing (he hates cursive writing). I also wonder why there’s that extra car in the driveway because I thought we could go bike riding down by the river or take a walk through the park and that car’s kinda in the way.
The spinning hasn’t stopped. On this day I feel dizzy. I was also wondering about what happened to that fast boy from grade school who’s was pushing this merry-go-round.