Over the years I've had friends tell me that once you start having kids, everything takes ten times longer. No outing is uncomplicated. No activity can ever truly be spontaneous.
"I thought about taking my toddler with me on a quick trip to the grocery store," a coworker once told me. "But then I realized I didn't have two hours."
I don't think I ever really understood all the fuss. In theory, I suppose it made sense. But it never really sank in.
I had been asked to emcee a fundraiser in my neighborhood that was happening last Friday. I was happy to do it. Sky and I had previously planned to leave that Friday morning for a road trip to Vegas because we were worried Duncan missed his best friend Mr. Ollie Pants, who moved there during Unprecedented Times. But we decided instead we'd help at the event and just take off the next day.
I was supposed to be at the venue by 5:45 PM. Sky and I were going to the event separately because he had affairs or terrorism to attend to across town that afternoon.
No big deal.
And then, at 5:05 Year of our Lord Eleventy on Friday evening, I suddenly heard the worst sound a homeowner can ever hear: running water that should not be running.
Moments later I discovered the source. Water was erupting from the front yard and pouring down onto the neighbor's driveway. I quickly dug a hole down into the ground to discover a pipe had broken—one I did not have the first clue how to fix.
There I stood, now covered in mud, 25 minutes before the start of a fancy party where I was expected to stand and speak to fancy people, not 15 hours before we planned to drive 6 hours south for the next several days.
The water shutoff in our house is so inconvenient to reach that you have to be certified by cirque du soleil before you're allowed to buy the home. It's deep in a crawl space that you can only reach by removing a mirror in the basement bathroom and then contorting your body like when the girl comes down the stairs in The Exorcist and then you have to crawl over piles of human bones and spider colonies and then you have to select the chalice that was used by Jesus Christ and then fight off those zombies from The Descent and then FINALLY you reach the water shutoff.
I did the whole routine, frantically showered and changed, and then sped across town to arrive to the party just in time. On the way, I called my brother in law, Jeff, who has fulfilled the emergency responder role in my family for the better part of two decades.
Jeff is one of those dudes that somehow knows how to do everything. He's like a 90s dad. You could hand him a rusty unicycle and he would somehow figure out how to turn it into a barbecue by sunset.
I told Jeff my predicament and how we had planned to leave town the next morning but I didn't think we could do so without resolving The Great Flood of 2022 first. Jeff offered to come the next morning at 7:00 AM.
He and my sister Krisanda arrived bright and early. We watched Jeff disassemble all of the plumbing in the Salt Lake area only to rebuild it using tools and parts NASA is keeping secret from the public.
I was amazed that he was able to fix what seemed to me to be an unfixable problem. I legitimately thought we were just going to have to place a sign on the property that said "CONDEMNED" and then pack up a truck and head west to get jobs in California as peach pickers like a Dust Bowl family.
Now, in pre-Louie times ("BL"), we could have gotten packed up and been on the road in 30 minutes.
But these aren't pre-Louie times.
Everything is more complicated with Louie in our lives.
This dog is constantly flipping over his water bowl and grabbing clothes out of our bags as we pack them and digging holes in the grass when we put him outside to get him out of our way and walking under our legs. I still don't even totally understand how it happened but it took us TWO HOURS to leave for this trip.
And then every stop, which should have only been ten minutes or so, turned into an hour-long detour because we'd have to walk him and try to convince him to take a shit in an unfamiliar environment and then try to convince him to swallow an entire bottle of Benadryl (JUDGE NOT LEST YE WANT TO BE JUDGED) and drink some damn water instead of just splash in it.
But we finally arrived. We've relaxed and enjoyed the 300 degree weather. Louie is taking swimming lessons.
Also, people have routinely assumed Skylar and Matt are brothers and, frankly, all four of us (Matt's husband Jace included) look enough alike that I proposed we just lean in and buy matching outfits yesterday to wear to a get-together with some friends.
This is what passes for fun these days.
Finally, we were right that Duncan was missing Ollie Pants.
Please enjoy this week's Strangerville:
This time in Strangerville, it's graduation season, Meg's body is falling apart, and a mother's harrowing journey dealing with her teenager's gym bag.
Gym Bag, by Laney Hawes (music by Danza Filipina)
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
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~It Just Gets Stranger