Food, Clothing, and Shelter

“Linda Malcolm writes.” That’s what the purple box on my Google calendar says on Tuesdays. The box encapsulates 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. And, I know in that block I can write a Hump Day Short; schedule it to be sent a few minutes after midnight on Wednesday; format the story on my website; and then link it to my Linda Malcolm Writer Facebook page.

This Tuesday, I was late. I made it out the door at 11:00 a.m. I blame my delayed start on the bags scattered in my path between the kitchen and the back door.

Looking for a place to start “normal” after a week away for winter break, my mantra Saturday morning was “food, clothing, shelter… food, clothing, shelter…” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

That morning, I opened all the bags from five days of skiing: the dirty underclothes, the dirty ski clothes, the ski bags with dirty helmets and boots, the bag of dirty gloves and balaclavas. With 40- to 60-degree ski conditions, it was warm for skiing. The last day I skied without gloves and with all vents in my ski pants and in the arms of my wind breaker unzipped. I unzipped the front of my wind breaker and the long-sleeved moisture wicking shirt to get a breeze. I was playing the part of a real spring ski bum.

And, with a good gust of wind at the top of the mountain, I felt like a flying squirrel as my vented clothes caught the wind and puffed me up as if I only needed to extend my arms out and skim over the hill on the breeze, rather than down the slope on snow that was nearing the consistency of mashed potatoes.

I watched teenage boys snowboarding shirtless and skiing in shorts and teenage girls snowboarding in dresses with leggings. It was bizarre. None of us Malcolms could take off enough under-layers to ski without sweating. Hence my goal on Saturday of getting these bags open and handing their contents over to the Laundry Maven.

The Maven had the washer spinning, the dryer humming, and, of course, the drying rack out blocking the hallway. By Saturday afternoon, clean wool socks, balaclavas, snow pants, snow jackets, and underwear were all hanging in plain view to dry. She smiled proudly at her days’ efforts. Then she left the house.

Sunday lunch I slung out four different meals from the stove across the wide island, calling out names as the plates flew. It took what seemed like hours to feed our small family of four. That evening, I tackled a menu and made a plan for Monday: to lose myself in grocery shopping and cooking most of the day so we would have food the rest of the week. I pray to God this works because the days of being a short order cook are causing angst clear to my core.

I seem to have meandered well away from where I started. As I was saying…

This Tuesday, I made it out the door at 11:00 a.m. I blame my late start on the bags scattered in my path between the kitchen and the back door.

I thought I had just unpacked everything Saturday?!?! The bags lurked around the door like puppies ready to make a break for it when the door opened. Four made it out: two of the writer’s and two of the errand runner’s. The remaining bags pulled at me like tentacles of an octopus begging for attention, even though I had mentally tagged them with “later.” Not counting the four I was taking with me, nine remained. All but one were of my doing. And that one was Will’s empty ski bag laying collapsed on the laundry room floor.

Come forth the hypocrite… here I am! I chide my kids for leaving unpacked bags strewn through in the house. Particularly when they contain smelly clothes or food. My bag from a morning workout at the Y is one of those sitting and waiting. A few weeks ago when I went to see La La Land with a friend, I bought Junior Mints. At the end of the movie, I put the open box in my bag. I’ve been pulling creative mini-sculptures out of there for a couple weeks now, culminating with this one.

According to my own guidelines, that would qualify as food left in a bag. Thank goodness I didn't find it in my of my son's bags.

Never mind. Sunday was "clothing" and it’s all washed. Monday was "food" and we won’t starve this week. Today, Tuesday, when I finish writing, I will return to work on our "shelter," including clearing and emptying bags from the all the paths I've walked in two short days.

I cannot wait until Hump Day.