Man Th0ngs, Hide-and-Seek, Paranoia, Otters, and the Undead.

This post is so long and random I couldn’t come up with a good title for it. My apologies.

I have had so many moments of something like déjà vu this past year. I’m not sure if this is normal with getting older, or if all my earliest memories have been flooding back to me as I experience 5 years old again with my own kid, or if it’s that my life is strangely following stages I remember my parents going through.

I know part of these feelings of déjà vu are just memories stemming from our family’s move back to my hometown at the end of last summer. I’m seeing people I haven’t seen in years, and I’m driving past landmarks that remind me of my past lives nearly every day. Daniel hears the most random stories about my childhood these days; it’s funny how much he still doesn’t know just because I never thought to tell him. It’s the strangest tour for him: “And on your left, you’ll see the movie theater where I saw ‘Liar, Liar’. That may actually have been a date with that boy, but I’m not sure because he wasn’t very clear and he never called me again.” Or “To your right is a bar that used to be a card and trinket store where I first heard Wilson Phillips’ ‘Hold On’, and in that same store I was inspired to make little ceramic bear figurines with cute names (similar to Precious Moments except less painfully adorable), and somewhere I probably still have the small notebook where I started sketching out my ideas and even my dad thought some of them were clever.” And “This one time, my parents went to Orlando for a week during the school year, and I had to stay with the new girl in class. That was an OK experience, except I knew that she wasn’t my kind of people. . .eventually she grew up to be cool, and, I grew up to be, well, awkwardly funny. Anyway, we walked from her house to this shopping center *right here where we are now buying Lemon Hummus from Whole Foods* and I got a large chocolate milkshake from the practically abandoned food court, and on the way back to her house was when I first discovered I have sensitivity to dairy.”

We lived in Daniel’s “hometown” for most of the last decade, and the most I got was, “That’s where the old Walmart used to be” and “I rode my bike down this street once with my friend.”

Another random memory you may enjoy is my most-favorite-ever Daniel story. Grey requested that her new size-6 underwear be boy briefs instead of girlie unders, so I went to Target last night to get her some. Having recently read this article, I am convinced that Target is Big Brother, watching my every move, so I wonder just what they think about my buying little boy underwear and salt and vinegar chips. Said purchase-slash-paranoia led me to recall a purchase of little boy underwear by Daniel and his concern for the reaction he might get upon checkout as well:

The day my sister got married the bridesmaids gave her several pieces of lingerie (because this what bridesmaids do?). About this time, my sister realized she and her betrothed had not picked up an item for their wedding night: lubricant. She asked Daniel to go to the store for her since time was short. Being the thoughtful brother-in-law, and not to be outdone by the bridesmaids, Daniel, in an unprecedented act of intimacy and generosity, decided to also pick up a few things he finds sexy on a woman, namely boxer briefs and wife-beater tank tops. Since my sister is a small person, he picked up these items in the boys’ section of the store. And, to even the playingfield of sexiness, he also grabbed a package of man-th0ngs for my brother-in-law. All this was meant to be mostly a joke, but Daniel realized his error when he placed his items on the conveyor belt at the checkout lane: underwear for young boys, a bottle of KY, and a package of adult men’s thongs. . . .  Talk about paranoia. Pervert.

* * *

The déjà vu comes into the picture more often when I’m doing things with my kids. They’re recently obsessed with playing hide-and-seek. Of course, a 1,000 square foot townhouse doesn’t really afford too many places to hide, so we end up playing doubles–two hide and two seek–that way we can get in a good 3 rounds before using up all the best spots. So, we were playing our 3 rounds before bed the other night, and I was struck with the feeling like I’ve been here before, done this before. I know I have.

When I was 5 my dad took a job that relocated us to Houston for the year before we moved to Ohio. One of the houses we lived in had an enclosed breezeway between the house and garage. At some point the three of us girls received red flashlights as gifts. The flashlights were square, and we carried them by the handles at the top like lanterns. My parents played hide-and-seek with us in the dark one night, and we used our red flashlights to find each other. I’m sure we were pretty dang cute, sneaking around in the dark with our lights. Hide-and-seek became a game of sardines. Have you heard of that? It’s where one person hides, and everyone else looks for them, hiding with them until eventually everyone is hiding in the same place. So this game of hide-and-seek/sardines was mostly us trying to find my dad who was hiding somewhere in our dark house. Once, though, I just couldn’t find him. I looked everywhere, in every room, behind every piece of furniture, even out on the breezeway. He had disappeared out of my home and my life.

My tiny heart started skipping beats, my mind went into the darkest corners it had ever discovered, and my emotions swelled like an over-inflated balloon to include this new feeling of desperation. I’m positive I was on the edge of a Kindergarten panic attack. Having a 5 year old now, myself, I can understand better what I may have been feeling at the time. When 5 year olds feel something, that feeling takes them over; there is nothing in the world besides that feeling in that moment. I think losing Papa in the dark that night was the beginning of my years of paranoid, nightmare-riddled sleep.

This déjà vu is why, when we play hide-and-seek with our kids now, the lights are always on, and I tell Daniel to not hide too well. (It turns out, my dad used to sneak around the house behind us, giggling quietly at our cuteness.)

* * *

In examining these moments of random memory and déjà vu, I’ve come across several things that are forever entangled in my mind. Most of them are ridiculous and simple (I cannot see bendy straws without thinking of Bob Evan’s restaurant), and many of them are tied to food (I can’t drive past Chipotle without thinking of my friend Brandon). Also linked forever in my mind: Anne Frank and my first period (because that’s what I was reading at the time I “became a woman”. . . this may be the most depressing detail of my life); the song “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Amsterdam (because I was in a seedy Amsterdam club the fist time I heard it); also Amsterdam and my first period because that’s where Anne Frank lived.

Something else that has–until recently–been inexplicably linked in my mind is my father and otters. When Papa took that job in Houston he began traveling for work. For the ten or so years following that relocation, he traveled 50 of 52 weeks each year, and he would occasionally send home postcards or bring us t-shirts or small gifts from the places he went. One of the first postcards he ever sent me had an otter on it, and I’m positive I still have it somewhere, buried with other cards and notes.

These days, however, when I think of or see otters, I think of my friend Wesley. Wesley visited the Tennessee Aquarium last summer and took this picture:

Watch out for those otters.

Wes captioned his picture, “I’m going to take this Tennessee Aquarium sign non-contextually, as kind of an existential warning about overreaching. ‘Don’t attempt too much. The otters will get you.'” So, not only are otters forever linked to Wesley, now overreaching, over-achieving, perfectionism and trying to do too much at once are forever linked to otters. It’s a double-whammy.

Anyway, I was in the shower this morning when Wesley popped into my mind. Of course, Daniel thinks a letter from a woman to another man should never begin with “I was thinking about you in the shower this morning, and . . . .”  However you feel about it, Wesley was in a traumatic car accident in college that nearly killed him and did leave him without the use of his legs. He celebrates his “un-death” day each year, except that someone he knows has mistaken “un-death” for “un-dead”, which prompted me to immediately begin looking for zombie photos to send him on the anniversary of his un-death.

Dear Wes, We’re so glad you’re UNDEAD.

So, this is why, with spring nearly here, Wesley popped into my mind in the shower. It is time to find a new and awesome zombie photo for him.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blog, if you scan backwards you’ll follow the rabbit trail my brain took this morning in the shower. Seriously. That is all I really wanted to share. (I hope you’re not disappointed.)

  1. here comes rachel cottontail, brain hopping down the rabbit trail!
    your story of daniel with the man thongs (gag) and little boy undies complete with lube had me laughing so hard that i read it to my mom. who was less amused than i was. her loss.
    and this whole thing made me miss you. how did i only get to live close and know you for so short a period of time?
    it also made me remember an episode of hide and seek with some of the neighbor kids. we were in someone’s house and i was hidden in a closet when another hider popped in and joined me. it was a boy. he stood directly in front of me with his back to me and i put my arms around him and petted his manly chest. he never moved or said a word. we were 8.

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Oh, man, I wish I was there laughing with you! When I was writing this I stopped and thought of you at one point, wishing I could be telling it all to you in person. :)

      I love your hide-and-seek story! That’s so awesome….

      • i wish you were telling it to me in person too. distance is stupid.

  2. Lizzie said:

    Not disappointed in the least! I so badly needed this tonight. I know you know how much.

    • alltheseblessedthings said:
  3. Grace said:

    I love you. You have succeeded in making me attract raised eyebrows and sidelong glances because I can’t stop laughing. That’s what I get for reading anything with this kind of title in public! It’s like an ode to randomness! :)

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Yay! I love that you laughed so hard you got reactions from strangers!

      • Grace said:

        Use google images to search “otters funny”. Good times.

      • alltheseblessedthings said:

        Haha! Oh, man, I completely missed a couple comments from you. That funny otter pictures site is just wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. LaLa said:

    Oh god, I miss you so much more after reading this. Your brain is a lovely thing. (Side note: I’ve heard Daniel tell the man thong story at least twice, and you once. Still I laughed, out loud, while reading. It never gets old.)

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Haha. That story makes ME laugh every time, too. I love that random man. Miss you, too, dear.

  5. I’m not sure I’d call this random. It’s flow of consciousness I guess, but I never felt, even once, that something had come out of left field. In fact, reading this post might have been the most enjoyable five minutes of my past month…excepting times when I look at pictures of Aria, of course. Wonderful. I can’t express how happy I am that you’re back at the keyboard.

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Wow. That’s a really flattering response, David. Thank you. I will respond with this delightful quote from “Singin’ in the Rain” — “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothing.” So says Lena Lamont.

      And Aria is pretty gorgeous. Good job on that one.

  6. Rachel, you are too funny. This must’ve taken forever to type. Love reading how you think & it is adorably interesting to boot! =)

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