Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Broken Things. (Again, no links. Not about buying today, at all.)

"Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in." ~ Leonard Cohen

I guess I could just stop right there, with Leonard Cohen. Damn, he compresses everything into rich antioxidant juice.

But since it's the holidays, I feel inclined to share that I didn't spend Black Friday in line at Best Buy. I probably should have, though, because my dryer door is duct-taped. Every ten minutes or so, the tape comes undone if the load is too heavy. And some days, damn, that load is way too heavy. The dryer is not that old. I reluctantly bought a new one three years ago when my garage-sale one died. I have paid to fix this new dryer twice. Paid to have the door replaced, then turned sideways. Paid by staying home and waiting when I could have been out trying to get new clients. And paid now, in ten minute increments, and by hanging up everything that fits on the line, everything that likes catching sunshine.

My life is a tad duct-taped.

Three kids, two dogs, two cats. Nothing stays nice for very long. I've learned to not even start out with nice. If you start out with used or borrowed, you don't feel as badly when you have to mend it. Or steam-clean it. Or ignore it. Ignoring works.

Right now, after 10 years in one place, everything small is falling apart. We fixed the big things. Now the small things, one on top of another, snowball. The oven, the fan, the toaster, the dryer, the bed frame. It's okay knowing the sofas have holes but now the slipcovers hiding the holes have holes. Can you duct-tape a sofa? I believe you can.

My middle daughter is still traumatized by the year that my husband duct-taped her down parka. But we all know how much parkas cost. And how, when you sew them, the feathers still sneak out around the slash of your stitches.

This morning when I let the dogs out in the dark, there was a light welcoming me. Was it the star of Bethlehem? No. Our car, headlights left on all night. (Should teenagers be allowed to drive at night, let alone vote? Discuss.) The teenager is awakened. In pajamas, we juggle owners manuals, keys, flashlights in our teeth. Electric principles, positives and negatives, remnants of science classes gone by, are discussed. The car does not turn over. It does not spring to life.

The cost of a battery, deducted from babysitting earnings, is silently calculated in my daughter's eyes as the sun comes up. She has seen how big that battery is, how much larger than "C" or "D". She has already paid for a flattened tire, a dented bumper, a small accident when she hit a friend. She is young, and already exhausted with paying, of replacing, with comparison shopping, with time away from homework and friends, with making new again.

I see it in her eyes. And I know: This is how duct-tapers are made, not born.


Da Butcha said...

I have never once heard of duct tape being used to fix ducts.

kelly said...

I know!! But I bet you have heard of people thinking it's "duck" tape.

Beth Kephart said...

loved this. felt it. and that bit from Cohen? one of my all-time favorite lyrics.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I've just discovered your blog via Writers Digest in a round-about way. I'd love to pick up and read your books. Happy writing!