Some days are like that. Some weeks even, and in this case maybe even the whole month. Maybe it was the extra day that threw everything off. In any case, I have the feeling now that I’m not quite sure how we have already ended up in March.
The past week should have been a return to “normal life” after the semester break, but not only was the semester break not particularly refreshing, nothing has been running “normally” this week at all. A large part of that is probably to be blamed on Godot. Christopher’s friend Alexander has been working on a production of “Waiting for Godot” as a kind of final project for school, and since he enlisted Christopher, Sascha and Paddy as his cast, we have been living with Godot for some time now. Monday evening there was a long and intense session of learning lines in the living room, and they performed the play on Tuesday and Wednesday evening and during school on Thursday. It was altogether a very impressive performance (more pictures from Sascha’s father Filip Cortes here), but in between being on stage, of course the boys were not capable of taking responsibility for anything else – such as housework or schoolwork.
Peter has been largely absolved from household responsibilities for some time, because he is under pressure to finish the next instrument to take to Japan, and on top of that he has had to deal with unexpected complications with the networks he administers. His attention needs to be focused elsewhere now. Altogether, however, this leaves us a bit short on “somebodies” to notice what needs doing and take things in hand.
February ended on Friday with an extra day that probably wasn’t really quite enough to be of any use to anyone, but it also ended with confirmation of our shared priorities.
Christopher had been invited to present his own writing again at a poetry slam Friday evening at Posthof, an important performance venue in Linz, so Peter and I planned to go. At some point Peter phoned and ran through a list of about fourteen different errands that he planned to take care of on the way to Posthof, which I didn’t bother to question, because when Peter is multitasking to that extent, he is also convinced that he can stretch time and I know from many years of experience that there is no point in arguing with him. Before Peter showed up to get the car and set out on this marathon, however, Seth came in limping and obviously in pain, so I told him to sit down and let me look at his foot. I know this is the conventional course of action to take, it’s just not particularly effective in my case, due to my significant lack of practical skills. If a problem can’t be taken care of with a hot water bottle and/or a cup of herbal tea, I start running out of ideas very quickly. Fortunately, Seth is sensible enough that even pain didn’t cloud his thinking too badly, so together we figured out that something cold on his foot would probably be a better idea than a hot water bottle. Thanks to Moni, we even have a medical ice pack that permanently lives in the freezer, rarely used except when Francis comes to visit during cold weather and we decide to defrost the freezer and use the ice pack to keep the contents of the freezer cold on the balcony.
Peter has always been in charge in case of injury or illness in our household. Once the situation has been assessed and treatment measures determined, I can take over with sympathy and patience, but I have always needed practical instructions first. When Peter came rushing in Friday evening, I told him that before he did anything else, he should look at Seth’s foot. Peter being Peter, as soon as he had looked at Seth’s foot, he quickly rearranged the schedule to include a trip to the hospital emergency room on the way to Posthof.
Somewhere along the way Paddy noted that our car demonstrates a remarkable ability for transformation: along the way it morphed from a family car into a transporter, a taxi, a bus, an ambulance, a sound system and back into a family car again. This was reassuring too. That is actually the reason why we have a car, so that it can be put to use whenever and wherever it is needed.
Hospitals are strange places. Time seems to have a different quality there, a different rhythm apart from the rest of life in the world outside hospitals. Being caught inside this different rhythm seems to put things into perspective.
As Paddy and I found ourselves staring blankly at a large screen displaying whatever happened to be on Austrian television with almost no sound (I’m not sure which was scarier to watch, the dancers with artificial smiles and without music or the medical drama with what was obviously an unsuccessful operation), while we waited for Peter and Seth to come out of the examination room, Paddy said he was beginning to remember why we stopped watching television. I think he is right. Following extensive poking and prodding of his foot (“Does this hurt?”), Seth let Paddy persuade him to sit down in a wheelchair to be transported to the exit, while Peter went to get the car. It’s probably a good thing that Paddy is not interested in driving a car. I don’t think that pushing a wheelchair is likely to be an ideal career option for him either.
In the meantime, Christopher had received the message that we would probably be late getting to the poetry slam because we were at the hospital, but in the end we only missed the first two readers, and Christopher was the sixth. Christopher didn’t win anything this time, but considering how much energy he had put into a very different performance for three days running before that, I think he did a good job. All the people reading were extremely good, and it was a very enjoyable evening, even though Peter and I were not terribly impressed with the jury this time. I’m glad that Christopher has become involved in this.
Standing in the doorway watching for Peter to come with the car and looking back at Christopher, Paddy and Seth standing together inside, I had the feeling that as crazy and out-of-control as our life seems to be sometimes, the values and priorities that we share in my household are right. And that is a good thing.