Sometimes nothing is everything


Yesterday was a day of nothing and it was a day of everything. It was a day I’ll remember for awhile.
A day in which the girls painted their nails and ate sandwiches for lunch.
A day that had me pulled up in a line of cars to celebrate my senior who most certainly did not want to be celebrated.
A day of porch swings and deck fishing.
A day of thick, heavy humidity that clung to our necks like a panicked monkey.
And it was a day that led me to I-75 at 4:30 in the afternoon, with my permitted driver behind the wheel.
At 4:30, on I-75, all of the mundane and fantastic elements of that same day unleashed by way of a furious thunderstorm.
When I say furious, I mean super DUPER angry. Irate. Violent.
Berserk.

It had started an hour before with a text exchange.
“Hey, boy,” I started. “Drive me to Costco. I need a ride to Costco.”
“Did your car break?” Brady texted back.
“No. Car is fine. I need a practicing driver. It will be good experience for you.”
“Costco is a bit far. And will take awhile.”

I convinced him, from his stretched out spot on the porch swing, that it was an in-and-out errand. 45 minutes round trip, instead of our usual $200-2hr adventure. Brady reluctantly rose from the swing and off we went to pick up Andrew’s graduation announcements.

The trip there was uneventful, just as I had advertised.
The trip home had all the events.
We were only halfway home when we could tell we were in for a thrashing.

“We’re going to drive right into this, boy, so be steady and keep some space between you and the car in front of you.” He gripped the wheel and we drove into a sheet of water as disorienting as a drive-thru carwash.

“I do not like this,” he said. But he stayed steady and we were safely in our garage 15 minutes later.

For the next 2 hours, we watched from every window as nature pistol whipped the neighborhood. Our Adirondack chairs flew into the river early on. They were gone forever. Our zucchini plants bowed into the earth, as if to beg for mercy. Our dog was inconsolable. Water rushed in the roads where the pavement had been only a few minutes before. The pool floats were flying around the back yard in a magical swirl.

“Mama, the LLAMA! It’s going to fly into the river!” Both of my daughters were unnaturally concerned about the inflatables.

“Then let it,” I replied. “I am not risking a lightning strike over an inflatable llama.” I felt like surely my life was worth more than that, but I chose not to pitch that to the family.

Our power went out 3 times while dinner was cooking. Three times we restarted the oven and crossed our fingers. The third time lured the last kid into the family room and we all sat together, in one room, watching the weather rage.

The last three months have been like that for me. I regret the situation that has landed us here. And I look forward to a time when we can gather in groups and put our hands on people without wondering if they just infected us. Or if we infected them. I look forward to watching 2 of my kids march a halftime show at a football game that I enjoy like it’s the last game on earth. And I wonder if they’ll get to. And I worry that they won’t.

But it doesn’t matter what I worry about or what I want. None of that will change how things unfold. I won’t be able to predict the storm. Or control it. All I can do is watch and weather.

Last Thursday we watched and weathered. And the next morning, we ventured out to clean up branches, round up llamas, and pep talk the zucchini plants. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it all. About the last 3 months. A little of everything and a whole lot of nothing.

I didn’t know then how much I would relish a simple dinner with my family as my power flickered off and on. I thought it would get old. I thought I would be bored. I thought I would hate the home-cooked pot pies and pine for the restaurant chips and salsa.

I thought I would resent the “nothing.”

As it turns out, a lot of nothing isn’t actually nothing.
It has turned out to be everything.


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