Friday, February 6, 2009

More On Mornings

My last post got me to reminiscing about my growing-up mornings. I had a seriously happy childhood. We all have crap, but I've dealt with it and have decided that mine is a much happier life when I forgive and forget the crap.

I know, I have a way, an eloquence. You can vinyl that and put it on your wall, if you want.


I laid in my bed looking at the red digits of the alarm clock. 6:08. I knew I was pushing it, but I just couldn't make myself get out of my warm, washed-soft sheets. 6:09.

Move, Emily, I instructed myself inside my head. You have to take a shower today because you didn't yesterday!

It was true. I've never been an everyday showerer, but two days was too many for a fourteen year old girl. I heaved my body into sitting position on the edge of my bed and had barely shifted my weight onto my feet when I heard the telltale rattle and shake from the water pipe that ran through my bedroom. OH, NO! Someone was in the shower. I half sighed, half growled and flopped back on my pillow.

Our home was filled to the brim. At it's peak, we had two adults, four teenagers, one tween, two mentally retarded boys, and a baby. Ten human creatures was more than enough to warrant a second bathroom, but we had only one. One of our "boys," as we always called them, Daniel, had special bathroom needs. He was born without a few essentials. In order for him to be considered potty trained, he had to sit on the toilet for a good deal of time each morning.

Family grooming ran like a well-oiled machine. We stood tallest in the back and tapered down to the front. We could sense the needs of another so brushes, hairspray and deodorant was passed without asking. We tucked in tags, helped fix the back of each other's hair and were rarely injured.

Our mother, a patient, loving, good, etc., etc., woman, never excelled at organization so we did not adopt any kind of system. Our system meant leaving the door unlocked while in the shower so the rest of the family could parade in and out to go to the bathroom, brush hair, fix make-up, use the curling iron, get the baby wipes, and so on. It also meant first come, first served for the shower. I had not been first that day.

I grabbed my underthings and trudged up the stairs. If I wasn't first, I HAD to be second. I dropped my pile of clothes in the hall, right next to the bathroom door. That was the line. While Joe was in the shower, I went into the dining room to finish up my last minute homework and get breakfast. Sitting on the counter was a bowl of granola already covered in milk. That would be Joe's. My always frugal parents had gotten a bulk supply of granola from somewhere. There was a reason it was given to my parents; it tasted fine, but you had to soak it for twenty minutes before taking a bite or risk losing all of the hardware on your teeth (and our family boasted a lot of hardware!). I prepared myself a bowl and sat it next to my older brothers'.

Gradually, the rest of the house woke up and came into the kitchen. It was the central meeting place of the house--Mom was always there, frying bacon, fixing hair, getting the pharmaceuticals ready for the "boys." She was, like the rest of us, in varying stages of readiness. Someone was singing, someone laughing, someone screaming at the printer (our laser printer, in the early 90's, was exasperatingly unreliable), and all of us were in a hurry. I'd had my shower, eaten my now softened granola and was getting dressed. My jeans were still wet in the waistband and seams. Oh, well. I knew they would dry quickly on my body. Mom didn't use the dryer because it was so expensive to run. She hung the laundry even in the winter and that meant that if you needed a pair of jeans for a specific day or event, you'd better get your jeans in the laundry three days ahead of time, or they would not be dry.

6:59. A sentinel was posted to watch for the bus. It usually didn't come until 7:04, but sometimes came early. I raced to the kitchen sink, where we kept our toothbrushes because of the over-used bathroom, and reached for my toothbrush--the one I got from the dentist three months earlier and had been using every day since. It was wet.

A wet toothbrush that you didn't use could only mean one thing: someone else was using my toothbrush.

"AUGH!!! WHO USED MY TOOTHBRUSH??" I hollered in my most controlled holler.

"What do you mean, your toothbrush? That's my toothbrush!" answered an equally grossed out Joe.

Simultaneous NOOOOO's issued forth from our unbelieving selves. How was this possible? For the rest of my life, I would cringe at that thought: We used the same toothbrush for three months. Ewwww.

"Bus!" echoed through the house. Our freak-out would have to continue there. It was time to go.


Our family is still very close. Maybe it was the bathroom that bound us together in such an intangible way. I miss being so close to them. I do not miss the granola.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a story. I love your writing. I look forward to reading more.