Daylight savings time is nothing more than a mean joke on the crazy. It’s just an hour, but hell, it disappears and no matter how hard you try to wake up early and find it, it ain’t there. Poor Milo, he woke up on the Monday morning after the time change at 5 am, peed, flushed the toilet, went back to his room to read and wait for 6:30 when he’s allowed to wake us up and ask about breakfast. At that time I was sleeping. Soundly. Then I heard my husband yell, “OH MY GOD.” I thought maybe he had fallen down the steps so I flew toward the first floor where there was water cascading out of all four light fixtures in the kitchen, the light fixture over the breakfast table and a seam in the ceiling drywall between the kitchen and the family/living room. (Our house is your basic suburban box built in the early 90s with an open floor plan.) I mean cascading. Pouring. Raining. Torrential. Curtains of water obscuring the entire first floor of the house.
The water was clean. The shut off valve of the toilet had malfunctioned so the tank overflowed. And over flowed . And over flowed. The bathroom was flooded, the carpet in our closet was saturated as was the carpet in my daughter’s room. The 4 of us ran around with pots and buckets and towels, catching water, pouring it down the sink, mopping up and shaking out rugs and shoes and dog toys that were caught in the current. We managed to pack lunches, get the kids to school and get our insurance agent on the phone.
We can cover our deductible, so we didn’t panic about the cost. But we were shocked by the the scope of the repairs. First came the dry out. For 5 days the first and second floor of our house was crowded with 1/2 a dozen child size fans that blew hot air with industrial strength. Holes were cut in the ceiling and the walls, and plastic tubes were fed in and snaked out of the ceiling and walls. (This is when you learn that your house is made of paper. PAPER.) The temperature was a consistent 95 degrees and it had the ambient effect of 5 jet planes ready to taxi and take off. We camped out on our top floor, which is all a 13 year old girl wants — to sleep with her family! I spent my days on our front porch with my pot of coffee and my computer. I was often in my bathrobe, waving at the neighbors, yelling at my dog, swatting at imaginary government surveillance cameras. . .
By night number two our daughter was a broken down mess. Her sobs of “but . . but. . .but. . .I need things to be organized. . .” were so pitiful. Her room was a jumble, the furniture pushed into the center, her closet impossible to reach, her carpet in tatters, her books and shoes and hair ribbons and colored pencils scattered to the far corners of nowhere. Our room looked the same (minus the hair ribbons and colored pencils, instead it was reading glasses and copies of the New Yorker.) The kitchen was unusable, we were eating in odd groupings wherever we could escape the noise. On night three, when my daughter was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of my little home office saying “I can’t take it anymore” I had to remind her that she’s traveled in india without us, at 11. That she’s slept on the floor of an insect friendly hotel room with 6 other girls and competed and performed in front of tens of thousands of people. She can deal with this minor displacement. And yet. . .
Finally, we decamped to the home of some generous friends who live on a peaceful lake. 3 of the 4 family members were out of town, so it was mostly us, our one friend and his two new kittens. Our daughter slept like a milk fed new born. My husband and I happily collapsed before midnight. And after much squirming, Milo drifted off to the sound of sweet night breeze. I was dreaming when, at 3 am Milo came into our room in full distress. He couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t stand the quiet, and the mattress and the itch on his arm and and and. . .I threw on pants, threw him in the car and drove home. He climbed over the machines, fell into his own bed and slept longer than he has in years. I’ve learned which battles to fight. And I’ve learned when to surrender.
Here’s the strange part, until that night at our friend’s house, Milo had been doing eerily well coping with our domestic disaster. . . .that week at school, the week between the flood and the decampment, was Milo’s best week yet. No visits to his padded cell, no leaving campus unannounced, no threatening to drink anyone’s blood, no full-on displays of crazy. Is it possible that, for Milo, it’s such a rare and wonderful thing to have the chaos in his head made manifest? Perhaps the noise, the heat, the disorganized jumble made our house actually feel like home to him. Or was it the water? How he dreams of water.