Archive | June, 2015

Weed Bouquet

3 Jun

The first thing I noticed was gray smoke coming out of the dryer vent. The second thing, a tiny flame. I didn’t want my parents’ house to burn down, the house I grew up in, the house that smells like being small and laundry the way only my mom can make laundry smell. I didn’t want the house to burn, and certainly not because of my dirty scumbag clothes struggling to get clean.

I was out in the neighbor’s yard, in the little garden Emma used to plant every summer when she still lived there, that is now overgrown with weeds but still looks beautiful because the weeds make yellow and purple flowers. Who decides what makes something a weed anyway? Weeds are more independent than domesticated plants. They don’t need people. I was there in the yard that I always admired as a kid but never went into because it was Emma’s special garden. She was nice, but I wasn’t invited over. I saw the gray smoke getting darker and the flame grow big and small and big again. I ran over, into the house, down the stairs to the basement toward where I though the dryer was, the one from the seventies with that crank nob like the one we had on our black and white TV when I was kid. But the basement was bigger than I had remembered. It was a dark maze made up of dozens of rooms with single swinging light bulbs that cast shadows around the concrete walls and floors. I won’t lie, I was a little scared. This basement that I’ve know for almost four decades. It wasn’t the first time I felt scared down there. But this time, I was scared in a different way. The lighting and the vastness of the space, the smoke, which began to fill my lungs, the fire I needed to extinguish, and the clothes I needed to rescue. I saw above me the shiny silver of the dryer vent strapped in between boards in the ceiling. That would be my breadcrumb trail. I followed the vent through room after room until the panic of the fire began to fade. There were no fire sirens, there was no water, and as far as I knew nothing had changed on the outside.

I found the dryer. When I came upon it, it was like an old familiar friend. And it was no longer aflame. I scooped out my clothes into a plastic laundry bin and left them there at the base of dryer to deal with later. I took a deep breath and walked toward what looked like a natural light. The darkness of the basement opened up into a small dance studio surrounded by windows, half above ground with wood floors and mirrors on the walls. I took a pirouette and a grande jeté leap, walked up the stairs out into the open air, and back into the weed the garden to pick some yellow and purple flowers for a bouquet.