“Life on the Wild Side” has many meanings to me, but one reason I think that life is a little wild is because every day is an adventure. Sometimes you have to work a little harder to make your adventures, but other times the adventures just . . . happen.
I had been kind of moping around the house all day, worrying about what to write, and the day was getting past me.
And past me.
And past me.
Since we’re heading to camp tomorrow to pick up our youngest from her very first time away from us ever, and since we had already gotten a couple of letters telling us how she’s now a card-carrying inhaler addict, I was starting to miss the little one.
So I decided to clean Maggie’s room, a once-a-year ritual I perform while children are at camp—it’s my way of feeling close to them while they are away. I don’t even get that mad about the Laffy Taffy stuck in the carpet or the CDs scattered around the room without a case to be found or the various Polly Pocket and Barbie pieces all over the closet floor.
Those Pollys and Barbies will be gone soon enough. As in next year, probably.
(I have to admit I was a little bothered by her back pack from the end of school with all of her leftover school supplies in it, but, hey, I didn’t tell her to empty it out, so it’s really my fault. Right?)
Later in the day, still missing my baby just a little, I headed to the mail box to see if she might have written one more time. Well, O.K., it wasn’t just a nonchalant I-think-I’ll-just-check-the-mailbox thing. I had actually been stalking the mailman, so as soon as I heard him step on our grass I was out there, retrieving the mail before it even had a chance to get warm in the sun.
Bills. Junk mail. Catalogues. Those nasty ad flyers that take up so much room.
And three (!) letters from camp. Again!
My lucky day!
I headed out to the back porch with my bottle of water, all ready to settle in with the letters when all of a sudden I fumbled the letters and a gust of wind came along both at the same time. Kind of like the scenes in old movies where a gust of wind comes along and blows the guy’s paycheck down the street. He ends up running along, trying to catch the wayward paycheck before it lands down a sewer grate.
Kind of like that.
The letters went flying out of my hand and one of them just happened to slip through the crack in the floor into the abyss underneath the porch. I grabbed the other two and held them tight as I just stood there crying, “Oh no!” and staring at the porch floor.
Now, there was no way I was going under the porch to retrieve the letter. I always think bunnies and skunks live under there. Nope. I’d wait until the other two girls got back from wherever it was they were off to.
In the meantime, I sat and read the remaining two letters which were considerably more upbeat than the first three I had gotten. Whew! Not even a mention of an inhaler. But then, I didn’t know what the letter-under-the-porch had to say.
The girls finally got home, and I sprang into action.
“Quick! Get a long stick or a rake or something! We’ve got to get Maggie’s letter from under the porch!”
They sprang too, grabbing at the longest rake they could find. I found a flashlight and shined the beam through the crack in the floor until I could see the letter--a little heart was drawn across the seal. I could see it through the crack just tempting me to get a jigsaw and cut right through the wood.
Abby valiantly tried to reach the letter from the most obvious point at the outside of the house, but it was just too far to reach with the rake. So she went to the other side of the house and tried to get it from there. Nothing doing.
Kate suggested going through the crack in the floorboard with some string and some duct tape—getting it out the way it had gone in. I just looked at her and laughed. Yep, and she’s a genius, that one.
We stood around on the porch for a while, scratching our heads, and trying to figure out which one of us was actually going to have to go underneath the porch. This jewel was too precious NOT to keep trying for.
Suddenly Kate said, “Hey! Let’s go through the window in the basement!” Of course!
When we remodeled our house three years ago we added the porch to the back of the old part of our house. The old windows were still there, although we never opened them.
We quickly ran downstairs.
“So, which one of you is going through?” I asked.
“Let’s get the window off, and then we’ll figure that out. Maybe we won’t even have to go through it.”
So, lots of tugging and pulling later we had the window off its hinges. But then came the problem of the screen, held in place by some very old, very stripped screws. One corner came off, but the other was not budging.
By now we were so determined to get the letter out that no little screen was going to stop us.
“Let’s cut the screen with a razor blade,” Abby suggested.
Well, why not? We had come this far, and we were three determined women, so cut the screen we did. We managed to just cut down two sides, enough so that, if we moved the screen over just so, the rake could get through the window.
But after a couple of tries we realized that the rake was still just inches too short. Kate tried. Abby tried. Even I tried, but none of us could reach it.
At this point we’re laughing hysterically at our own desperation. Here we were, standing in our basement, the window above the washing machine was off its hinges, the screen was cut, and our rake was too short. Thirty minutes had passed and we still didn’t have Maggie’s letter in our hands.
“We just need a couple more inches! How about a dust pan?” Huh? A dust pan?
"Yeah! A dust pan! We’ll tape it to the end of the rake and use the extra length to just scoop up the letter under the porch."
Yeah, that’ll work.
We found some clear packaging tape on the workbench and set out taping the dust pan to the end of the rake handle. Abby, no quitter she, reached in through the screen.
“I almost have it! I almost have it!” she cried as Kate and I peered into the abyss. “Oh no, the dust pan fell off.”
The three of us were just about to wet our pants, we were laughing so hard at this point. But, again, not to be deterred, we decided that clear packaging tape wasn’t the way to go. No, this was a job for . . .
Grabbing another dust pan (I seem to collect those in my basement—I’m not sure why, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away), we DUCT TAPE (when, by the way, did duct tape become a verb?) it to the end of the rake. And just for good measure, we put an extra piece of tape on the end of the dust pan so that some of the sticky side was hanging off, hoping that it would grab onto the letter and pull it toward us.
“If I get this out, I get to read the letter first,” Abby yelled from the darkness, her top half under the house, her . . . ahem . . . bottom half back in the basement.
Believe it or not, it worked! Before too long we had Maggie’s letter in hand. Abby sat right where she was, on top of the dryer, and read it out loud to us.
She’s doing great, that little one. Having one adventure after another.
And so are we.