Lady of the Flies

In Lord of the Flies, after wandering aimlessly for a time the shell-shocked boys begin to drift into two directions. Some turn savage, adapting to life alone on a desolate island, a life sustained by killing wild pigs and sleeping In trees. Others cling to a belief in rescue, maintaining the habits to which they’ll return, wearing clothes and sipping tea, even if it really was only drops of rainwater in coconut-shell teacups.

It’s the third month of unemployment, and I’m considering going savage. For the first month, beyond not buying things or going out to eat or getting a sitter — none of which was that much of a stretch — things seem relatively unchanged. Some down time. It was kinda nice to have him around. Things would pick up again in January.

January came and went.

We’re now in full-on joblessness. I’ve learned more of the story at the company, which explains things a bit better but which wouldn’t have changed our decision to move here. We gambled. There’s a reason I don’t gamble, and this is it.

It’s tight around here.The grocery is a chore, all the comparing and measuring and searching for value packs and discerning needs from wants. Sleepytime out, generic chamomile in. Soon that may go, too. I eat at school as much as I can — it’s covered — and I don’t drive much. We only go to free events, except for the school play, and we had to wait for Friday to buy even those tickets.

Should we be spending emergency money on entertainment of any kind? I haven’t time to entertain such existential questions.

Last weekend we were invited as guests to a benefit for our school, a dinner auction where bids were cast for art and trips and jewelry, none of it trinkets. I was thrilled but Allan refused so I took a girlfriend and it wasn’t until I got there that I understood what he meant by the disorienting feeling that came with pasting a smile on and chatting over a plate of risotto that my host had paid $150 for. It felt like nausea and I couldn’t count-my-blessings the discomfort away, no matter how many happy thoughts I forced up.

But mostly, like always, it’s the unknown that yawns and swallows. I have faith that we will be okay, somehow, i really do, but I don’t know what that ‘okay’ will look like, where it will take us, what it will demand of us. What adjustments and alterations. Our house is threatened, and this is real, and we can talk of little else. Ugly, awful words we once heard only on the news now apply to us.

I will stop here, and I will first recognize our own culpability, how deeply flawed our money management was, the many ways this might have been avoided. I know this, it wakes me every single night, and it will forever change my financial habits, and this is important but right now I have to encourage my despondent husband and protect my little daughter and feed two dogs and make Valentines and that’s what occupies my waking hours.

If I had been in that plane, I have no doubt which camp I would have joined. I’d have kept my handkerchief in my pocket and brushed my hair and looked to the horizon.

And sipped my ‘tea.’ Even when there was nothing in my coconut-shell cup.

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Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 8:10 AM  Leave a Comment  
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