There is nothing more frightening to a young child than a mother’s absence. Where did she go? How long will she be gone? Five minutes? Forever? Who will keep me safe? I remember my first days of kindergarten, feeling alone and helpless in the daunting world of the elementary school playground the moment my mom dropped me off.
Up until a few days ago, I liked to think that I had gotten past my maternal reliance a bit. “I’m nineteen, “I thought to myself, “I lived in a foreign country for an entire year, shopped and cooked for myself. I’m in college now – I live in a dorm! I don’t need my mom to take care of me.”
Oh how foolish I was.
This past weekend, my mom went to Florida to visit my grandmother. No biggie, I figured that my dad, brother, and I were more than capable of managing on our own for a couple of days – plus my other grandparents were visiting, so we had plenty of help to keep the house running smoothly.
My confidence proved unwarranted a mere three hours after my mom walked out the door. As I usually do, I had a hankering for coffee before I sat down to start my nothing for the day. It seemed like a great idea at the time to put my mug on top of some books that lay on the floor next to my couch. One swift kick of my foot and a giant coffee spill alter, I realized that was a bad idea. Ever the problem solver, I set out right away to clean up the spill. After unsuccessfully dabbing the splash zone with water, I realized that I needed something better; I knew that baking soda had a knack for cleaning up stains (I forgot that seltzer was the key second ingredient), so I grabbed a box and dusted the area with a hearty helping of Arm and Hammer. Two hours later, I had a still-wet mess of coffee, water, and baking soda on my rug that simply refused to come out, so I decided to cut my losses and wait until my mom got home (just today, the baking soda dried enough to be vacuumed off, whence it revealed the coffee stain still entirely intact).
Then came the deluge.
Los Angeles had seen more rain than usual for the previous few weeks, so much so that a fairly extensive series of leaks had sprung up in the hallway in front of my room. That fateful Friday, though, witnessed a downpour of Noachian proportions. The leaks expanded, and by the night, the drywall on the ceiling had peeled away and found safe residence on the tarps covering my hallway floor.
The leaks didn’t stop there, though. As I turned on my T.V. on Sunday morning, I was greeted by the sound of the morning news, but not the sight – the screen was pitch black. Confused, I pressed the power button, and as the noise faded away, I became aware of a tap-tap-tap coming from the now-off television. Water was dripping on my T.V. There was a leak. It was leaking on top of my T.V.
Frantically, I rushed to clean up the mess and dump as many towels as I could find on and around the television. After I deemed the area sufficiently dry, I gave the T.V. a test run – no dice. I decided to wait 20 minutes and give it another go – in hindsight, that was a bad decision. When I turned my television on for the third, and final, time, it emitted a loud and piercing “EEEEE-UUHHH-RRRRRR”, followed by a poof and a shower of sparks from its side.
I had broken my T.V.
So, to recap, when my mom returned home four days after her departure, she walked into a house with no television, a stained living room rug, and a hallway with more drywall on the floor than ceiling. As for me, the second she walked through the door, I was a first-grader again, running to her car after school, where it was safe and warm and happy.
And sure enough, the very next day, the rain stopped and the sun shone in all its glory.