• April Wish

It's Earth Day.


It’s Earth Day and as if to remind us that we are on here at her discretion, Mother gave us a good quick shake just past midnight. As if this pandemic wasn’t enough.

I googled “crafts for Earth Day” and the toilet paper roll boats looked easy enough. It’s a lesson in recycling and reusing, I suppose. The same kind of lesson I was taught by Drippy the Raindrop, a cartoon drop of water from third grade in a booklet printed on recycled paper, of course, telling me to turn off my faucets. Do my part. That I can make a difference.

But it’s not just MY faucet, is it?


And here we are, locked into the world’s worst group project and we are failing. There are so many faucets. So many carriers of the virus. So many voters that are so desperate to stay above water, they don’t care about what we allow to be dumped into it.


And now, 20 years after I cried in the cabin at outdoor camp in 5th grade, really feeling that night’s reading of The Lorax, vowing that I would, certainly, be the one he meant when he said “Unless”… I look at these toilet paper roll boats, held together with duct tape, painted with colors from plastic acrylic paint bottles, as they, unsurprisingly unseaworthy, sink to the bottom of a polka dotted plastic kiddie pool. And I sit, leaning against the rarely-used swing-set gazing at the plastic shovel and the plastic pails, our two cars sitting dormant in the driveway, the giant plastic slide…watching my two kids turn the hose on one another and doing nothing to stop their great joy as they waste all that water. Drippy the Raindrop would be so pissed. My tools of motherhood shame me. But I love my plastic slime containers and plastic cups and plastic kiddie tables and plastic water tables and plastic Halloween decorations. Our home. Our roads. Our vacations and freedom to consume as much plastic and as much space as we can afford to. It is the America way.


We made wildflower planters and I explain that it is for the bees.

“But why?,” Clementine asks. “We’ve taken all their flowers away, kids,” I reply, bluntly. And the lesson in my reply is as banal and unlearned as it was when it was told to me at their age.


I don’t want to give up my plastic. Or my trip to Ireland I’ve planned in my head so many times. Or my largeness. Because someone is always larger. Drippy the Raindrop is a fucking literal drop in the bucket. That quick playdate you had during quarantine was just because you needed it mentally, like I need my cellophane goodie bags at parties. Drip. Drip.


Mother Earth is our victim in the proverbial cop show: faceless, nameless, naked, a personified hunk of land we’ve deemed is weak and easy to suppress. And I’m proud of her now for fighting back, pushing us up off of her soil and into our holes. We don’t deserve her. She isn’t here for our murderporn this season.

So, what do I do? Do I put “no gifts” on the birthday invites? Plant a garden? Buy less? Buy smarter? Compost?

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Drip. Drip.


Drip.


How do you fill the bucket when your whole reality is built on the idea of buying MORE buckets? I can’t stop my neighbor from buying more buckets, certainly not if I can’t even stop myself.


I miss believing in the fairy-tale of saving the planet by turning off my faucet and planting wildflower bee gardens, musing about what my kids will be when they grow up as I sip out of a plastic cup with a pathetic paper straw, numb to the idea that I was not the “Unless” the Onceler suggested I could be.


I miss the time before this jolt that Mother Nature has given us and I’m angry. I’m mad about the protests and the playdates and my own inability to change. I’m mad at myself for letting down my kids and the little girl at outdoor camp in 1992 who thought she could change the world. So mad, I can feel it in my chest, this wound up little ball of bad habits so hard to untangle that I don’t know where to begin. What is the first thread? I don’t know. But I am sick of the tightness in my lungs and I want to start at least... pulling.


Happy Earth Day. Don’t forget to turn off your faucets. And stay home.


22 APRIL 2020

day 41

APRIL WISH

  • April Wish

Easter is going to be very different this year.



On March 19th, I panic-purchased an adult Easter Bunny costume on Amazon. You see, Easter has long been my favorite holiday. It's my "Christmas." It's all pastel and floral and tiny chocolates and matching lace-lined dresses and cousins and bunnies and new life. It's almost always in the month of my namesake, April; also the month that my parents were married.


Waking up on Easter morning, I would race with my brother, snagging eggs as they lay around the house and and in couch cushions and in drawers, each pastel nugget full of the promise of jelly beans. My mom would hide them in the Kleenex boxes and in the drawer of her antique drawing table that we were otherwise not allowed to touch. I would beat my brother every time to the one in the microwave. We would lay out all of our treasures on the floor and I'd be sure to count every one, watching him closely to make sure he didn't cheat. I knew that the competition wasn't fair, as I was 2 1/2 years older than him, but I still reveled in having more eggs. He would cry about it and I would share my candy because there was always just so much of it anyway. He doesn't remember that I shared with him, but I know I did. My parents would have insisted.


Every year, my mom would get scheduled for work and every year I would be crushed... until: THE. ACTUAL. EASTER. BUNNY. would come hopping down the street on his yearly visit to my grandma's house on Atlanta Way. The bunny that never once looked suspiciously like my mom. The one that once cracked a real egg on my cousin Janelle's head for pulling his tail. The one that would only squeak at us and would leave us just before my mom returned from work.


"Did I miss the Bunny again, Ape? Every year. Every year, I miss the Bunny," she'd say.


In recent years, my Aunt Kathy has donned the suit as I can't even fit into it myself. She rolls around in the confetti egg mess and we know the big kids are on to her and at least one of the little kids is terrified, but it's also the kind of thing that makes time stop for me, seeing that old bunny suit.


Easter is less pressure than Christmas, more joyful than Halloween. It's about all of us cousins, maybe dozens of us, in white gloves and floppy bonnets and about brunch at Crystal Cove with my Aunt Sue and gathering us all under a bright springtime sky and chasing the bunnies that my Aunt Kathy had living under the porch in her backyard, and about the annual egg hunt we host every year since my daughter was born with 30 some odd kids running around in boas, and about crying over not finding the golden egg, the one that my mom and aunt hid in the lemon tree - INSIDE a lemon - that one year.


This year, I'm trying to recreate the cookie decorating and the egg dyeing and I'm working so hard to flood our house with pastels, careful no to dye too many eggs since they are hard to come by right now, grateful for the stockpile of Easter-Parties-Past in the garage, missing my mom and my cousins and my brother and the Bunny at South Coast Plaza that always pretends to eat the fake carrots that my kids feed him.


I look at this costume I bought on Day 7 of our "Stay At Home" as it sits in the bag. Truth told, it is actually a Bugs Bunny costume. It was one of the few ones that had a head on it that wasn't $100. I need to make him a vest, I think. And a bow-tie. I've already begged my Jewish husband to put it on. Tomorrow, we will all pretend together that daddy just had to run an errand and that we will get a "do-over" of Easter sometime this Summer. They are both lies, really.


Clementine has been asking me every morning "How many more sleeps until Easter?" with an anticipation I used to have. She can't wait. It breaks my heart and puts it back together at the same time to see her innocent excitement.


Without our family, it won't be the same. It won't. And I wonder what else won't be the same after this. My kids, they are 4 and 6 and don't have enough context for what Easter is supposed to look like for them or even what the world is supposed to look like, really. I am creating that right now. And, yes, it looks a little like a knock-off Bugs Bunny in a crudely fashioned vest and their cousins and grandparents likely yelling over one another on Zoom. But, it doesn't have to look like failure. It doesn't have to look like a million plastic eggs and new baskets every year. It's Springtime. And we are all being given a chance at renewal and growth.



Happy Easter, everyone.


07 APRIL 2020

day 26

APRIL WISH

  • April Wish

This isn't the beautiful miracle of nature I expected it to be.

Day 4 of "Safer at Home," I panicked and bought a cup of caterpillars online. You see, I could see already that we were going to miss the Kidspace Butterfly Festival this year...and we have these beautiful, matching butterfly capes to show off and I figured it would be a lot of entertainment for the kids to see them transform and also that I would get to tell people on facebook that we did "science" and to take out my fancy camera and get some sun-kissed photos of those capes, perhaps use the bougainvillea in the yard as a backdrop. I tell myself that this is because I want to spread and share the light and joy that my kids are but it's probably also a little to make Kell jealous and show Jodie that I'm a good mom and to snidely let Val know that she's not the only one who has a gifted child and to keep up with Ashley.


Now, I look at the caterpillars, clutching on to the top of the cup, turned upside-down as the world around them is, too. They turn upside-down like this to make the big change. I spot one as she wriggles and bucks, slowly encasing herself from the bottom up. It's a violent thing to watch. She twitches while the others fight one another for space. A few fall and have to crawl back up. It turns my stomach to watch. Makes my skin crawl. This isn't the beautiful miracle of nature I expected it to be. It's ...painful.

It's a violent thing to watch.

In the past, when we bought caterpillars online, we left them on the shelf in my daughter's room and would wake up to delight in how much they changed overnight, then run off to wherever and forget about them for the rest of the day.


But now, they sit in the dining room on a counter by the dog treats and we go back to them more frequently and I pretend to marvel at how big they got and how cool it is to watch them transform while I secretly choke down the anxiety I feel about how we are running out of time with them. They won't be here to entertain us soon. They'll fly off and leave us here alone in our own "Safe at Home" cocoon.


I force myself to watch the second one as she transforms. I listened to a podcast once about what happens inside the chrysalis. They become a kind of... goo. If you cut one open, the caterpillar is gone, liquidated. And now, on Day 21 of social distancing, without the tools of motherhood I have so often used to pass this longest shortest time together: playdates and grandparents and festivals and parades... I, too, am goo. Cocooned in this house, cocooned in the news, cocooned in your Instagram stories and in my paralyzing fear that I am nothing but ordinary. I am twitching. Trying to rearrange the parts of me that crawl on the ground in the hopes that I will be able to fly free of the weight of envy and comparison someday.


02 APRIL 2020

day 21

APRIL WISH


The Alone-Together Time

Musings from a mother during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis in the United States.