Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Strange Days

My life these days can only be described as strange. The whole world is living with a background soundtrack of financial panic; the sounds of the stock market crashing, doomsday predictions and what-ifs about candidates in the upcoming election, dire warnings to squirrel away some money in a coffee can or the heel of your shoe. And here we are, spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars (most of it belonging to our mortgage lender, eek) in a head-spinningly short period of time. We've bought two cars and a house (well, probably) in just the past six weeks and we're poised to shop for several major appliances in the space of a few days. The outflow of checks with one or the other of our names signed at the bottom is shocking and yet we just keep churning along. It was all planned and budgeted and it would make sense if I were to explain it to you, but still. It feels a little like we're heading over a waterfall, just sure that our raft will carry us safely to the bottom, while everyone shrieks around us.

Besides the financial oddities, we're residing in a strange temporary/permanent world. On one hand, everything is temporary - first we were in a hotel and now we're crashing in a family guest room, we get our mail at a PO box that is our only permanent address - but we're planning for the long term like we've never done before. We kept telling our realtor we wanted a house we love so we don't have to move for a long time. We wanted a car that would last. I went out and bought a zoo membership because of course we'll be around to use it all year. After three years of knowing for sure that we were making relatively short-term choices, I feel like I'm playing psychic.

But I've found that the one thing that keeps everything else feeling slightly normal is Theo. No matter where we're staying, he expects fruit and yogurt and cereal for breakfast. And he doesn't care if we want to test drive some bargain car we found on Craigslist, when it's naptime he needs to go to bed. When my head is spinning from one too many life decisions (cable? internet? cable internet? AAAAAGGGH!) I'm almost always interrupted by a small voice saying "Helicopter! Helicopter! Heavy?" just before my skull explodes.

This morning I completed a particularly surreal twenty-four hours that was capped off by triggering my own car alarm six times in a row (Hi, neighbors of my in-laws, aren't you glad we found somewhere else to live?). I was wearily driving us home after stops at two different car repair shops (don't ask) and pitying myself while my son shouted OUT OUT OUT from his car seat. We were passing a park and I decided, what the hell, let's get out of this car and act like we live here. So we spent an hour or so sliding down the slide and yelling Wheeee! on the swings. And one of us almost expired from delight when a passing fire truck appeared and the firemen waved and then found us in the parking lot as we got in our car and sent us home with a plastic fireman's hat.

It felt really normal, like that's what moms and little boys do on warm Wednesday afternoons in October. So maybe we'll do it again tomorrow, but without the car alarm.


Hazel's mom said...

Hazel was equally thrilled when a firetruck in the Target parking lot stopped at our van, handed her a firefighter badge sticker and rang their bell just for her. I was pretty impressed myself. I won't tell her that Theo got a hat - she'd be so jealous!

Daniela said...

We joked that one day Amelia will ask "mommy/daddy what did you do during the great depression of 2008?" and we'll say "we all went to Disneyland!"