I close my eyes, open my mouth, and let the almost-too-hot water shower my head, come together, fall, and rinse the night down the drain. I mine my thoughts, trying to remember my dream about removable magnetic teeth lined up perfectly once replaced. Straight, negative-to-positive on somebody’s gums.
“That’s incredible!” I said. Wishing teeth were that easy. Knowing others have it harder.
Then, dream-me wondered whether the woman who’d shown me magnet teeth was just messing with me, because somehow, we’d gone from the dentist’s room and were now in a bar. The bar lights did the same. Magneted into place.
Incredible. Dreams are incredible and weird.
We don’t know how easy or how hard others have it with their teeth or anything else.
I shave my legs, do a half-assed job of feeling for lumps, feel horrified by my half-assed attempt, do a thorough one and think about how much easier life is with hot water to wash with and look for lumps in.
I think about the people in Florida and Haiti and all the other places who are doing without water.
I think about taking my son to the bus stop on mornings past, so thankful and know that too many people don’t have homes or water, much less bus stops, not just today, but on all of the days.
We don’t know what’s easy or hard for others.
When I was a kid, my mom had a master calendar hung up near the phone on the built-in desk next to our kitchen. She’d color-coded it. Kid activities were blue, her work and volunteer ones green, important dates like birthdays and doctor’s appointments were penned in red. There were lines and arrows and blocked off times during a single day in a tiny box.
It worked for her, and she raised my brothers and I, managing to get us to dentists and doctors and birthday parties when we were supposed to be there.
I used to have a paper calendar. January was filled with colored boxes, coded appointments and reminders and by March, it was blank. August usually saw a resurgence of penciled and penned reminders.
Today, I have an app on my phone that can be pulled up at the doctor’s or at a stoplight.
I’m able to see whether a forgotten appointment is tapping his feet on the corner of October 21, or whether a reminder to move my car is bubbling up in the box of October 19 with reminders a day before and another two hours before. I need both.
Life’s easier with that calendar app.
I don’t know how much easier other people have their calendars. I don’t know how much harder it is to keep track of things without calendars or water.
I adjust the elastic on my sweatpants, roll up my sleeves, and hear my husband transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer.
I text a friend and talk without speaking, email a teacher and a fellow room parent, and communicate without having to put shoes on or leave the bathroom.
My little boy tells me he’s hungry (he’s always hungry), and I have food in a refrigerator and a pantry and a microwave that’s willing to cook it so that I don’t have to.
I have a vacuum to sweep up the crumbs that little boy leaves behind before bugs come to carry them into our walls.
When I get bronchitis, I’m able to get drugs and cough drops. When my son is wet from the rain, I’m able to dry him and buy him a waterproof coat and a kid-sized umbrella.
When I started writing this, which is, by the way, a Finish the Sentence Friday post, I had no idea what I was thinking when I said that this week’s sentence would be “My life is so much easier due to…”
Obviously, my life has been made easier with hot water and a shower, a calendar app, elastic, and the wisdom that comes with having read what’s been hard in history. It’s easier with text and email and a dryer.
The thing is, is that life is hard. Looking for lumps knowing others have it easier and more difficult, drying clothes in a dryer or standing under almost endless hot water when others don’t have any water at all is the forgotten hard. We forget what’s hard, until we don’t. And maybe that’s the most important thing about hard or easy.
Maybe, everything feels too easy. Maybe, everything feels too hard. It’s perspective and neighbors and listening to other people’s stories. It’s about knowing that our own stories are important and worth telling. It’s about easy and hard being fluid and about life being the same. It’s about making other’s lives easier or more difficult. About where to matter.
About mattering, at all.