I was thinking about this yesterday, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Arizona, out in the endless desert on what felt like an endless drive home from Mexico…(Long drives are really good for random thinking. Everyone should take the wheel for a long drive on a regular basis, just to get the mind flushed out.)… I was thinking that when I got home I was going to have a day of regulars. That’s what I might call it. Maybe. Or I might call it “Ordinarily This....” and the object would be to make note of all the regular things in my ordinary days. I guess my head went in that direction because of the pictures on our digital cameras, the ones we were looking at on our drive home from our Mexico vacation. Sarah was wishing aloud that we had taken a picture of everyone together. So I got to thinking that we have these photo journals of our lives that we leave behind, and in them are all the exciting glamorous things- like trips and parties and birthdays and anniversaries; and the showy things like recitals and programs and games. We have all those things recorded well in our photo albums and in our journals. What is lacking is a reminder of the repeated, seemingly mundane motions of our daily lives. What the family car looks like. David sitting at the table studying legal briefs. Libby lifting Gram into her wheel chair. Jordon buttering a piece of bunny bread or sitting in the driver’s seat of an EJ Bartells truck. Johnny digging in the dirt with Parker. Kate, Annie, Ashley interacting with their students. Sarah using a stethoscope. Timo pounding his drumsticks on the headrest in the car. Sherry opening the back door for Pi. Jill sitting before her computer, her face bathed in the glow of a book in embryo.
I remember my mom standing at the kitchen sink. Regardless of where we were living; what job she had at the time; whether it was before or after Dad left. No matter what season, or how many people sat at her table for dinner…there was always the kitchen sink. It was a constant amid lots of changes. I can hear in my memory the clanking of dishes, the ringing of silverware being stacked into utensil drawers, the rushing sound of the water flowing through the tap. Sometimes she hummed, or whistled, but more often than not she was silent, unless there was something to be said. Mom almost always preferred quiet. I guess that happens when people have seven children and lots of noise all the time. Noise on the outside, mixed with the noise of a mind troubled with marriage woes. Things can get awfully loud in the quiet of a lonely bed. Something about the motion of working with the hands makes the sounds in the head line up a bit more quietly. She often folded laundry and washed dishes in silence.
I wish I had a real picture of my mom at the kitchen sink, not just the one conjured in my brain. I wish I had a picture of her at the wheel of the car; or of her pounding a real estate sign into the ground. I wish I had a photo of her hand patting my back, paced against the rhythm of her rocking in the old white rocker that used to be the old brown rocker before she re-covered it herself in that evening community continuing ed class she took on upholstering and refinishing furniture. I wish I had a picture of my sister Sherry holding me. I think we might have an old home movie of that. But not a still. She was a normal teenage girl, darling in her poodle skirt fashion and horn rimmed glasses. So beyond typical in the way she loved and cared for her little little sisters. I imagine her holding me, and when I think of it I can sense her love infusing into me. Wish I had a snapshot.
And so I am thinking we should all take our cameras, or cell phones with cameras, and snap a picture of ourselves or someone we love at the kitchen sink.
Go ahead. I dare ya.