Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Really . . . you want to complain?

That is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately.  A lot.

We have two air conditioners broken.  Two.

It's hot.  Really hot.

The air conditioning in our car (new to us) was apparently not working when we got it.  We didn't know that, of course, and had it fixed at the beginning of the warm spring.  Then it broke again - poof, literally.  A large puff of smoke had me pull over and open the hood.  I opened the hood (because I know you're supposed to open the hood in case of emergencies and look to see what's wrong).  The children gathered 'round.  I feebly searched for the long brace thing to keep the hood raised, and then I made my most astounding and astute statements ever - "Kids, there it is.  That's what it looks like when the hood is raised.  This is the little brace thingie that keeps it open.  That is the engine.  Isn't it nice?  Look, Dick.  See, Jane.  There is still smoke coming from inside here.   Hmmmmm.  This is what the engine looks like when the hood is opened."  The end.  That was all I knew.  The hood was up; I could take it no further.

Luckily, as I peered into the great expanse of black and gray stuff that means nothing to me, and my children peered at me peering, and the friend coming home with us continued to quote the length of each term of presidency, from George Washington to the present; a nice man wandered over to help.  He joined us with his head in the nothingness and exclaimed that we had 'blown something.'  (As I've eluded, I know little about car engines, but the large puff of smoke had already had me thinking that.)

Turns out, we had blown something or other that might be named a compressor or a condensor (might not) and means that the air conditioning does not work.  Oh it blows out nicely (we had already had that fixed) but the air that blows out is sauna-like; well, sauna-like with a lot of force.

The only place to fix the air conditioning is far away from our house (so we can use the extended warranty that was going to be accepted by everyone, including the twenty places close to our house) and so air conditioning repair has yet to make it to the top of the to-do list.  It is really hot in our car.  When I pick up sweaty, warm children from the bus, they do not feel cool and refreshed on their ride home.  When we work to get our hair done just right for an event, it does not look good at our arrival, as we have been blown to smithereens in a failing attempt to breathe.  The oft-cheerful moods of the riders in the car are not as cheerful as usual.  We are hot.

And now, slowly but surely, each new steamy day has brought the assurance that our upstairs air conditioning at home is broken also.  It did not happen all of a sudden, with a poof, like our car did.  There is no hood to raise, nothing to peer into, looking for the blown part.  We just noticed, with each passing day, that being upstairs was becoming a sweatier experience.  We called the man that we believe we have called the other two times we can remember this happening (though we can't quite remember what was wrong) but he is very busy this week.  A lot of folks have broken air conditioners, and we need to wait a few days before he can come.

This information has been relayed to the dear children, though every six to seven minutes one of them is careful to explain, again, that it is HOT!  "I mean, really, Mama, I just can't take this."

You know how you can open a window at one end of the house and then open a window on the other end of the house, and that creates a nice, cool breeze?  Yeah.  Well, that doesn't always work.  Sometimes, apparently, no actual air moves between them.  Sometimes it doesn't work the way it works on a crisp fall day.  There are a lot of fans, and the fans are moved from child to child, as they continue to aspire for the sleeping set-up that brings forth relief.  It is hot.

I want to complain.  I do.  I am hot.  Tim is hot.  The kids are hot.  Sadie hasn't come out and actually said it, but I think she is hot, too, as she isn't spending much time upstairs.  I guess our pores are nicely steamed and ready to go, but we are hot.  Really hot.

I want to complain.  I want to complain when I'm riding in the car.  I want to complain when I try to go to sleep.  I want to complain.  I want to shout about how hot I am.   Something keeps stopping me.  Something keeps telling me to shut up.

As soon as I am about to get heated up, complaining, something stops me.

I am hot.  It's true.  A few things are broken.  True.  It's just that complaining isn't in order; it's just not.

When I drive along in my car, upset that I'm not experiencing a comfortable cruising temperature, I am different from most people in the world.  I'm not different because my air conditioning doesn't work - I'm different because I'm in my car.  I don't walk home from work, past violence and I don't endure the intense heat of the sun or freezing temps.  I ride in a car.  I drive a car that my family owns.

When I head upstairs to get some sleep, I am different from so many brothers and sisters (down the street and on the other side of the world).  I'm not different because my air conditioning is broken.  I'm different because I'm in my house.  My house, the one we own (well, sort of, but we're getting there).  I'm different from most people because there is a roof over my head and a way for me to keep the things that go bump in the night, out in the night, and not in my house.  I am different because my children sleep in their own beds, not wrestling for a place to lay their heads, and they are safe.  I am different because my home is filled with things that symbolize all that we have in this world and all of the things we have been fortunate to do and all of the places we have been.

There is nothing extravagant here, but we are different than most of the people in the world.  I know, though I spend most of my days forgetting to be aware, that most of the people in the world would give an arm or a leg to have what we have, to live the way my children live.

It is tempting, to be sure, to compare ourselves to the family down the street or across town.  It is easy to find all of the things we need or don't have or wish for, to belittle what we do have.  That's easy.  It is easy to tell everyone how very hot we are, how uncomfortable we are, how unfortunate it all is.  That's easy.  It's just not true.

Truthfully, we are fortunate beyond words, to live the life we do.  We have more to be thankful for than most.  We do, and we forget.  We do, and we don't know a way to explain that to our children.

We have two air conditioners that are broken.  Most likely, they will soon be fixed.  We are uncomfortable.  We are hot.  We are sweaty.  We feel yucky.  Our hair gets messed up in the car and we are irritable.

But that's not the real story.  The real story is that we have a car.  We go anywhere we'd like in that car.  We take for granted that we'll turn the key, move the shift and be on our way to the next event in our very filled lives.  We have a house.  We spend our every days knowing that, at day's end, we are sure of exactly where we'll lay our heads and we know that where we'll lay our heads is safe.  We will not endure any violence while we rest; we will not hear bombs bursting in the distance.  The boogie man where we sleep is only in our heads.  We won't be worried tonight that any killer mosquitoes will sting us and take us from our families.  We'll only have to worry that we are uncomfortable and that it will be a few days before a nice man comes and fixes our problem and makes us comfortable again.  We will give him money that we needed to spend for something else, but we will work it out.  In the scheme of things, in light of the conditions that most of our fellow earth inhabitants live, we have no problem.  No problem whatsoever.

I want to complain.  I do.  I am hot.  Big deal.

And now, remembering how very fortunate most of us are, I need to announce the winner of yesterday's WHAT IS IT?

I tricked a bunch of folks on this one!  We had lots of guesses but not too many correct answers.  The winner of the free photo session is Kris G.!  Way to go, Kris!  Can't wait to 'shoot' your family!

This was the mystery photo:

And here is what it was . . .

Thanks for playing, friends, and for following the blog.  It's a blast to have you on the journey!

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