Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Age 13: Everything Just So

She swiped mayonnaise on another piece of bread, then looked at the kitchen table, round and covered with a Thanksgiving tablecloth.  It was another Sunday afternoon, turkey leftovers were stripped, the bones were bare, and little pieces of turkey dotted another sandwich. 

She had five sisters and one brother, and she was the second oldest.  No one really 'made' her do it, but she liked to cook and bake.  So naturally, she had to make sandwiches for school, 1 1/2 blocks away from their home.  Their home was a former convent for Catholic nuns, she knew, and so she just told herself that it was a good thing that she was doing.  As if the goodness from the nuns still hung around the house.

Turkey meat here and there, separating the dark meat from the white meat, and she inquired of each child which they preferred.  No, that was not possible.  Living in a big family means that you get what you get, and if you don't want it, some one else is looking up with big eyes to eat if for you.  So she didn't know that dark meat tasted different than white meat, and so she just mixed them both up on the same sandwich.  None of the siblings would notice, either.

She opened the freezer.  Thirty-five sandwiches, to be exact.  They were all lined up, one sandwich per day for five days of school.  She peered down at the kitchen floor now, noting all the piles. Red, white, and blue.  And another one for patterns.  She dumped the dryer, loaded the washer with the printed clothes, and added the detergent and softener to the machine.  She knew to use cold water on the permanent press, and certainly and of course she knew one had to add bleach to the white clothes.  Three more hours of laundry for nine people, and she took the load from the dryer and placed it on the living room sofa.

Folding each item was rather nice because it was cold and the wind was howling outside, leaves splashing onto the front steps for her to wipe on another day.  The clothes were warm and soft, mildly scented.  Mostly, they were warm.  It was a side effect that on this cold Fall day, the clothes came out of the dryer and the warmth massaged her soul in a comforting kind of way. 

She placed nine stacks of clothes on the top of the sofa, where the head rests.  Starting from the littlest one, each pile contained the clothes of the respective sibling.  Pants on the bottom of the pile, then shirts, then socks and underwear.  Or, underwear then lastly, the socks.  She rolled them up by matching pair, making sure that the exact sock had its own pair.  She knew that one white sock differed from another white sock, and her Dad's blue calf socks had to be matched just so.  So she did it.

She put the last socks on top of the last pile, finally, and went to brush her teeth, wash her face, and brush her hair. 

Finally, she swiped back her bedsheets and blankets.  It was her turn now.

She gathered three pieces of bread, her favorite, and picked up the Nancy Drew book she was reading. Settling in, she had her own time.  She was tired but pleasantly pooped, and no one could take this time away.  It was hers.

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