Stuck In The Middle With You – or – I Would Wash My Hands But I Can’t


As I write this, Hubby, Sylvester (our one hundred pound dog), and I are crammed into an 8 by 5 foot square space, surrounded by all manner of home furnishings and separated from the rest of our house by a three foot baby gate across the entryway.  For all practical purposes, we are all crated together like the animals we are.

I know we’re animals… if I had any doubts of that, they were removed after several hours of our enforced bonding.  (Quick prayer:  Thank you God for my husband’s job, which removes him from these premises five days a week!)

To make matters worse, a big storm blew in this morning, so there was no going outside.  It seems to have passed now, but it’s hot, muggy, and full of mosquitoes out there.

  • Hubby:  “The sun looks like it’s coming out again.  Maybe I can go walk around outside.”
  • Me:  “Sure, why don’t you do that?”
  • Hubby:  “Or I could wash my car.”
  • Me:  “That sounds good.”
  • Hubby:  “Or I could sit right here.”

And drive me crazy!

Why are we in this situation?  Because half of our house flooded two months ago and this week is the big push for the teams of different tradesmen to co-ordinate their efforts and complete all the re-construction.

All the stuff from the half of the house that flooded is shoved into every nook and cranny of the half that didn’t.  We have pathways to the bathroom and bedroom.  The kitchen table is at the foot of our bed, loaded down with pots and pans, and assorted contents of the cabinets that used to be in the kitchen.

The kitchen itself is just a gutted shell, with plumbing pipes sticking up through the sides of the floor.  The bathroom sink adorns the path through the living room.  Chairs are piled on top of each other and reach almost to the ceiling.

(The phone rings.  It’s my Hubby’s boss, asking him if he can come in today and work extra time.)

  • Hubby:  “Oh I would if I could, but I have construction going on today in the house and I really need to be here.”  He hangs up.
  • Me:  “You can go in today if you need to honey.  We’ll be okay here.”
  • Hubby:  “No, no.  I need to stay home today with you and Sylvester and keep track of things.”
  • Me:  “I know, babe.  But seriously, if you want to go you can.  I’m sure Sylvester and I can hold down the fort just fine.”
  • Hubby:  “Nope.  Any other week I would, but not today.”

He gives me a big smile.

Crap.  I inwardly sigh and go back to trying to write.

We have a place in mind to go take a quick shower tonight, but this morning the work crews started early and – except for the toilet – we have no water.  Besides, it wouldn’t matter much if the water was turned on, because we have no sinks.  No stove.  No refrigerator.  Nothing.  Just empty shells in part of our house and everything we own crammed everywhere else.

So I poured some bottled water into two plastic cups and we used those to brush our teeth with.  Then we partly filled a mixing bowl with more bottled water so Hubby could shave.

We can’t leave.  The homeowner has to be here.  There are contractors and subcontractors and layers of tradesmen that all report to different people.  Communication on who is doing what gets fuzzy.  Every day problems come up and it’s clear one or both of us has to be here to monitor the situation.  Besides, I’m not comfortable leaving my dog here alone.  What if one of them moves the baby gate and he gets out through an open door?  Or steps on a nail?

Hubby:  “I think I’ll call my mom.”  He dials her phone number and yells at her through the phone (she’s hard of hearing).  Periodically, he gets up and walks around the contractors, checking on things.  Later, he says, “I think I’ll call my brother.”

Listening to someone’s phone conversations when they are across the room from you, or even across the table, is totally different than listening to them when they are sitting a foot from your chair.

Hubby is home today and tomorrow.  Then he has to go back to work.  Oh, blessed day.  Meanwhile, I keep trying to write, while my husband and dog are both antsy and acting like the caged animals that we are.

I give Sylvester a couple of Benadryl.  The vet said I could give them to him when his skin allergies flare up, but this time, it’s really for me, not for him.  They calm him down and make him sleepy.  Something we could all use him to be right now.

The office we are in is my place of work.  I have no problem with being confined here as I normally spend several hours a day writing at my desk anyway.  I do, however, really miss not being able to get up and walk around the house every so often.  I like to take Sylvester out periodically, get a drink, and stretch my legs before settling back and working some more.

I saw this construction as a chance to concentrate and get some major story writing done, while the crews worked.  Instead, I’ve reverted to grousing in this post.  I hadn’t counted on rainstorms, back-ordered lumber delivery’s, contractor squabbles, and Hubby being here with me part of the week.  “The world’s job is to stop us from writing.” (How to become a lean, mean, writing MACHINE).

He gets up, moves the baby gate and sets it back up to keep Sylvester in the room.  Then he heads down the trail toward the bathroom.  A few minutes later and he’s back.

“I would wash my hands, but I can’t,” he says.  Right.  No water.

“Come on.”  I grab the bottled water and Hubby follows me outside, where I pour water over his hands while he rubs them together.  He shakes his hands free of droplets and we head back inside the house, where we dodge construction and search for a towel from the piles in the rooms.  We don’t know where anything is anymore.

After a while, Hubby can’t stand the confinement.  Plus, the sun is now out and so he leaves to go for a walk outside.  I, meanwhile, am finally interruption free enough to finish this post.  There’s a space where he has left, and both Sylvester and I are sighing with relief to have even a couple more feet between us.

Then it’s just me, typing away, and my trusty dog lying by my side.  If it weren’t for the constant banging of hammers or whine of a drill, it would feel almost normal again.

Last night, when Hubby and I crawled over a box to get onto the bed, I was too tired to read my devotional.  It’s been that way for a few days.  I decide that -now – while Hubby was out walking, this would be a good time to read the days message.  It might help calm the waters here a bit.

It read:  “Trust ME in the midst of a messy day.  Your inner calm… need not be shaken by what is going on around you.”  I stare at the words on the page, amazed at what I am reading.  “When you start to feel stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you.  Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My Peace.” *

How does God do that?  How does He work it so that a writer, from half way around the world, wrote words many years ago, that God then used to give to me, almost like it was written for this situation, exactly on the day that He knew I would read it and need it the most?

Hubby just walked back into our crated space.  “Did I tell you about what Jeremy (name changed here) did at work the other day?”

“No,”  I say.  “Tell me more.”

I’ve decided to take God’s message to heart… about relaxing and not trying to control the chaos around me.  So I quickly finish and save this post, and settle back to the sound of pounding, power tools, and the sweet sound of Hubby’s voice.  The stories can wait.


*  Taken from Jesus Calling, © 2004, 2011 Sarah Young


About Cary Area Writer's Group (CAWG)

Who Are We? We are a group who live, meet, and support each other in Cary, Illinois. Writers… that is what we call ourselves, but we are so much more than that. We have full time jobs, full time kids and full time hassles like anyone else. We don’t come up with stories. we live them. The only thing different about us is that we write them down. We don’t sleep. We have deadlines that are constantly looming and we always hope for that elusive quiet that never quite finds its way to our lives. If you think you can keep up with this pace, if you can put down the phone long enough to write a sentence or two and make sense, well I’m sorry to say you’re a writer and I know what you’re going through. Stick to it. Publication is just around the corner and then you can sit down. Or can you? It’s all in a day’s work but you know you wouldn’t trade it in. It’s who you are. By Grace Rellie
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s