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Once more to the lake

August 11, 2012

We’re off, tomorrow, to the cabin we’ve rented–my boyfriend, his daughters, my sons, and I–for the last two years, and posting will be even scarcer than usual. I packed my house up yesterday in a rush–people came to see the house on short notice, and then showed up an hour late, just as I was pulling into the driveway congratulating myself for getting all my errands done during the hour I had to be out.  The day went swiftly downhill from there. I’d taken my car in, finally, because it had been leaking engine coolant for a couple of months (I’d been driving around with a gallon jug of the stuff, topping the tank off as necessary, but I thought I should probably have the mechanic check it out before the long drive north). Somehow, I’d convinced myself it was just a faulty hose, though my car (an old Volvo station wagon) has the delicate, expensive constitution of an overbred racehorse. It’s never just a faulty hose.

And lo and behold, it was the radiator itself, which needed to be replaced. It was also the front brakes, plus a hose here, a seal there, plus some other thing that seized up when they were fixing the brakes, and for some reason this pushed me over the edge. No one likes an eye-watering car repair bill. Yet the car is old, and must be repaired. It is nothing compared to the huge amount of money I spent getting the house re-structurally aligned and painted and re-floored and spiffed up and the roof repaired and the ceilings re-repainted and so on. I should have just taken it in stride. Instead, I felt for several hours as if someone’s invisible thumbs were pressing down on my windpipe. I had no choice but to fix the car–we were, after all, getting ready to drive away on vacation. It’s not like I had a tough decision about whether to put the old nag down. But for some reason I found this particular financial blow hard to take.

I told myself to shake it off, it’s only money. What would Pa Ingalls do? He’d say, Whatever must be done, shall be done cheerfully, and then he’d rebuild the house with his bare hands or march off several hundred miles to find work East, where the locusts didn’t ravage everything. I packed up the house and made it immaculate. The kids and I packed up the loaner car. Then we drove to the mechanic, I put the repair on my credit card, and we unloaded the loaner (fishing rods, bean bags, inflatable boat, paddles) and loaded our newly pimped ride and drove to my boyfriend’s apartment, where we arrived just in time for supper.

Now the four children are chattering and wandering around and getting ready and planning (plotting, really) what they’re going to do during the week by the lake. I made supper with the vegetables from my CSA, which everyone devoured, and we will get up at dawn tomorrow and drive north. I’m having some sort of neurotic attachment to the house that’s hard to shake–but I am sure it will evaporate once I’m truly away. In general my life is pretty easy, I think. But actually, at this point, I’m a mite strung out, and it occurs to me that–as a friend told me yesterday–I probably could use this vacation.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2012 11:22 pm

    Sounds like a real vacation is exactly what you need. Have a wonderful time! Laugh, read, play, and try not to worry about anything back home. Wishing you a excellent trip.

  2. August 12, 2012 1:50 pm

    I love the Pa Ingalls quote. I used to idolize the Ingalls clan, but I find it hard to be as cheerful as they say we ought to be.

    I hope your vacation is fun.

  3. August 13, 2012 12:39 pm

    I do that, too – ask myself what Pa Ingalls would do – and it’s usually helpful in producing a cheerful demeanor, or at least a demeanor that isn’t stamping on the floor screaming in frustration. I try not to think that what Pa Ingalls probably would do is sell all his family’s possessions to the nearest buyer and uproot them once again for a dash into the wilderness, where he can’t hear his neighbor’s axe nor be easily reached by the long arm of his creditors.

    Ahem. No implications in your case. I just have a disillusioned view of Pa after rereading the books to my kids.

  4. August 14, 2012 7:09 pm

    Yeah, I had a $1500 car repair this summer and it’s always a kick in the teeth. Enjoy the vacation though, and your mantra can be, “what’s done, is done.”. If you don’t like that one, I won’t be offended. Have fun!

  5. hayesmary permalink
    August 16, 2012 11:25 am

    As I recall, Pa Ingalls was also not above running out on his debts. The Ingalls family spent a couple of miserable years (1877 – 1879) in Burr Oak, Iowa, with Ma and Pa helping run a hotel there. They skedaddled back to Walnut Grove, leaving unpaid rent and other debts behind. Laura omitted those unhappy years from her memoirs.

    I’m sure, though, as the dust of Oak Burr (and threatened lawsuits) were settling behind him, Pa was already dreaming about the fortune he would make back in Minnesota. . .

  6. August 23, 2012 10:32 pm

    I was never, ever, in a hurry to grow up for all the reasons you listed. Friends dressed as “teenagers” for Halloween and were in a huge rush to grow up and I thought “what the fuck? You know you’re going to have to be responsible for all kinds of shit, right?” Just before I moved (apartments, nothing like you are doing) my vacuum stopped working so I took it all apart but ended up throwing it out to get a new one because it was gone and I thought “this is adulthood, worse chores, less allowance. I was right all along”.

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