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.
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