Drips of Life
This would invariably lead to sort of an Italian/Irish debate. My mother comes from the land of Michelangelo, DaVinci, Giotto, the great artists and architects of history. My father came from the land of potatoes and pubs. No contest.
It started with a dripping faucet.
I once read in an essay called “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness” that if you let all the little things build up, they will eventually lead to more distress than the major problems.
Drip, drip, drip.
The bathroom crumbled apart, along with my life.
First the faucet started dripping, soft drops, hardly noticeable. Then it became steadier, an annoyance.
My mother told my father to fix it. He would sigh loudly and say I’m doing work.
All he wanted to do was be outside, in the grass, with the birds and the trees, away from my mother, from us, from the criticism and yelling that was really just talking. He was suffocated in his cubicle from 9 to 5, usually later, and then trapped with the crowds and pollution of the turnpike as he crawled home.
My mother saw all that could have been done, never what was accomplished. She would walk into the bathroom and hear the drip, drip, drip, drip. It reminded her not of what was not being done, but of what was gone. It reminded her of her father, my poppy. Cancer ate him as it did many of our friends and relatives. Poppy would come to our house, and while nanny made sauce, he would inspect little things. He always had a tool belt with him, just in case. He would fix things that didn’t need to be fixed in the first place. Once it was the door locks. Sometimes he made things worse by “fixing” them. Once it was the toilet. It never did work the same. That also contributed to the deterioration of the bathroom.
My mother missed this I suppose. She would ask my father about the faucet whenever they were doing taxes or tuition payment or insurance. You know, the best times. Just to pile it on. Make a list he would growl, just like before he went to the grocery store. This would invariably lead to sort of an Italian/Irish debate. My mother comes from the land of Michelangelo, DaVinci, Giotto, the great artists and architects of history. My father came from the land of potatoes and pubs. No contest. She would say I know your family didn’t do this, but… and he would retort, You don’t what my family did… but she would insist she had been there the entire time, from when my father was a little boy walking around the West Side.
She nagged my father until he had no other option but to face the bathroom. He would look puzzledly at these mechanical devices. He had a big book from the 80s that supposedly showed you how to fix anything and everything. He pushed and pulled with his big hands, just to show off his strength to himself. And then, a minor miracle occurred. All it needed was a washer! It was fixed!
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.
Just kidding. Our faucet liked to tempt us. It decided to start dripping again. Repeatedly. My dad fixed it again, over and over. Until he pulled the sink handles with a wrench to a 90 degree angle and the water only came out warm.
By this point the water coming out was a steady stream. A bubbling brook in my own house. I worried a flood would occur if we ever went on vacation. Oh wait, we never went on vacation anymore.
Drip drip drip drip drip drip dripdripdripdripdrip.
This was around the time I became kind of a pain in the ass. There is a line in the movie “Garden State” that states “You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore?” Yeah, I don’t think it was ever that drastic, but you get the point. I knew I never belonged. I just needed to find somewhere where I did.
I had been nagging and pleading my parents to re-do the bathroom. I mean, there was a hole where tile had fallen off in our shower for at least 10 years. The toilet never flushed right. The shower rod had fallen down. And there was that drip. My mother would say I know; We’re working on it. When I asked my father he would say Do whatever you want. Which meant whatever my mother wanted. Which meant it never got done.
Drip drip drip drip drip drip dripdripdripdripdripdripdripdripdripdripdrip.
The farthest we ever got done was wallpaper ripped off. So then we had a bare bathroom. It echoed with the sound of emptiness.
Then a number of things came to light- my suppressed depression, anxiety disorder, IBS. Lovely.
So for me, the bathroom got put of the back burner.
Then I got feisty.
I realized I had a voice and I could use it.
I had always used it with my parents, but now I used it with other people.
I’m a journalist. Trust me.
I realized if they wanted the bathroom to go to hell, that was their problem now, not mine. I had my own dreams, namely getting out of suburbia, which had effectively made me a boring loner.
No one believed I could make it on my own, but I did.
Drip, drip, drip, dr-…
I fixed the leaky faucet.