My New Year’s Resolution – December 31, 2003
My New Year’s Resolution – December 31, 2003 was to write a short story every day during the coming year 2004. Against all odds – I succeeded – but at the end of the year I was far too shy to show these little missives to anyone. My “voice” was still silent – I didn’t think anyone would care. It is 10 years later and I am stronger now – more vocal – more self-assured and far less worried about the opinions of others!
I had always hoped that one story might touch another person – help someone going through a hard time or give someone strength in a time of need. I still feel the same way – and so I am going to publish these stories on A Beating Heart this year with the hope that one may touch another life. These are for the most part not animal related – but I don’t care – it’s my blog and as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke Of Wellington said when faced with the threat of blackmail – “Publish And Be Damned” …
New Year’s Eve & Laundry
It is December 31, 2003 and I am 54 years old, feeling at times without prospects, but hopeful nonetheless that life still holds some surprises for me. It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t have the “proverbial” date. This may be reason on it’s own for me to sink further into a bottomless pit of despair. Upon reflection not a good enough reason, but if it was, there would definitely be snakes and spiders at the bottom of said pit. Let’s be clear about one thing, even though I’m feeling the holiday blues, it’s not that I’m without plans. I’m going to spend the evening with my brother Eric, his wife Dorothy and friends. I am not a pitiful, single woman, abandoned by society and shunned by strangers because I dwell in ‘singledom’ (a small hamlet annexed by Toronto). However, right now I would really like to stay home alone. I’m still in my jammies from this morning and it’s past four o’clock in the afternoon.
I stripped my bed this morning so I can come home to freshly laundered sheets after the evening’s festivities have reached an end. I can hear the dryer humming along in the basement as my bedding tumbles about. I hate the thought of making my bed. I have to climb up three flights of stairs from the basement and then put on the sheets, duvet, my quilt and all those stupid, decorative pillows. I could sleep a small army and each weary soul would have a pillow. What is that all about? Okay, it’s time to trudge down to the bowels of my house to collect my sheets. My feet are bare – I don’t own a pair of slippers. Upon stepping onto the concrete floor my tootsies came into immediate contact with kitty litter.
I brushed one foot and then the next against the opposing shin to clear the sticky bits away. I’d like to point out that this is not used kitty litter, but rather the stray pieces that fly out of the bag when I clean and change the litter box, or when Ziggy, my feline friend struts his male stuff in search of the perfect spot to make a deposit. So, maybe these are used bits. Yuk!
Having successfully de-littered my feet I plodded over to the dryer. My basement is a scary place, fit only for a washer, dryer and deserted spider webs. As I passed a stack of old cardboard boxes and “stuff” perched haphazardly on top of plastic storage containers, I renewed my resolve to clean out my basement. The dryer door opened to reveal fluffy sheets. I pressed my face into the clean, white warmth and grinned. This spontaneous smile was the first one to cross my face all day. As you may recall, I was feeling terribly sorry for myself. I pulled out the sheets and pillow cases and turned them into a bundle, which I slipped under my left arm, as I fished around for a couple of wayward black socks in the recesses of the old reliable Kenmore. Ah – yes, laundry success!
My smile was short-lived. It was time to re-trace my plods and travel up to my third floor bedroom. I did so with a heavy heart. Once the bed was made I needed to shower and freshen up for the evening’s laughter festivities. I simply didn’t want to be bothered. I had an absolutely deplorable attitude.
I arrived at the third floor. My back hurt from a near fall on the ice outside my back door and the right side of my neck was aching from a prolonged sleep crunch. I looked at my antique, walnut bed. I didn’t believe in “epiphanies” – I know a lot of people lay claim to such events and it’s usually quite a grand affair where God actually does a little bit of a tap on one’s shoulder and “bam” – divine knowledge flows through the veins of the individual, replacing the usual red blood most of us are rather thankful to have.
Well it was not like that for me. However I did have a moment of inexplicable and profound thankfulness that I had a bed. I’ve never felt that way about a piece of furniture before. Now I’ve had rather sublime moments in bed. Okay, reader – I know where your thoughts just went and yes, of course, that’s part of one’s history with her bed.
Can you remember a time when you were motionless with fatigue or near-dead with a cold or the flu? Think for a moment about how it felt when you slid between the sheets and let your body melt onto the mattress. Your woes simply ebbed away. Recall that feeling of absolute surrender! Even after I’d faced down the dragons of exhaustion or illness, I had never really thought about how grateful I was to have a bed. It was simply a useful device for sleeping. Nowadays, a decorator’s dream, hence the aforementioned multiple pillows. But for me a bed was a bed was a bed (here I’ve borrowed rather hideously from Shakespeare).
As I stood there – sheets and shammies at the ready, I thought – there are millions of people around the world who have no home – let alone a bed, and here I am, in a frazzled fit of sheet despair, that I have to make mine. I felt very small in that moment, and in the midst of my “smallness”, I thought from now on I would make my bed with reverence. So, in spite of my aching back and my twitchy neck I made that bed with great care and gratitude. As I finished I plopped my guard bear (he can be very ferocious & intimidating) down beside his green pillow and stood back to survey my work of art. Then I bowed to my bed and said a sincere “thank you”. I’ll never again take my bed and it’s comforts for granted.