Hiding in Plain Sight
by Bella Rum
My grandchildren lived in a condo the size of a postage stamp when my son worked in NYC. They decided not to sell it when they moved to the Midwest a couple of years ago; renters are now living in it. When they moved where housing was far less expensive than NYC, they rented a spacious (to them) three bedroom apartment. I’m sure it felt like a palace.
My grandchildren have always lived in relatively small spaces. When they visit this “average” house on the cul-de-sac, they feel like they’re on an estate in the country. My granddaughter has what we call the adventure gene; that’s a polite way of saying she’s nosier than an old woman at a family reunion. She loves to go through every crevice, corner, drawer, shelf, trunk and closet in this house. She sees the attic as her personal treasure trove. She finds things that have been lost for years, and she loses things that are needed daily. She’s an E ticket ride at the amusement park. Step aboard and strap yourself in.
I have those cheap glasses all over the house. They’re everywhere: by the phone, the computer, on the nightstand and in the kitchen. She found a pair that I particularly like. The frames are plastic and they have black and white zebra stripes. They look ridiculous, but they’re just the right strength for my eyes. At a dollar, they were a steal. I keep them on the nightstand. I’ve searched high and low for them for days. I know she got those inquisitive, little hands on them. Who knows what she could have done with them?
Defeated, I finally gave up the search and exploration routine.
Yesterday, I spent the day getting my house back in order – reclaiming it. Because of my granddaughter’s penchant for rearranging every single thing in the entire place, things are a little discombobulated in the house after they’ve been here a few days. The shower curtain is on the inside of the tub, photos have been moved around on tabletops, pencils and paper tablets are found in odd places (she’s very official and must always have a pencil and small notebook to keep track of life), and toys are in strange places.
Once she lost my sister’s ashes. I have a few of her ashes sealed in a beautiful butterfly-shaped box – just the sort of thing a little girl would love. It went missing for days after one of her visits. A few days after she left, I finally found it in a small purse she’d been carrying all over the place for days. Aunt Bobbie had gone along with us to the market, the science museum and God only knows where else.
Yesterday was my day to reclaim my house. I did laundry all day – about five or six loads. I know this is normal fare for those with children, but the two of us don’t usually generate that much. I had three loads of our clothes and two or three loads of sheets from the guest room and the kids’ room, and let us not forget towels and bathmats. After the first couple of loads of sheets, I set about making beds and straightening the kids’ room.
As I was putting books back on bookcases and gathering up teddy bears and my ancient Raggedy Ann doll, I stumbled across Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse has lived here for many years. My sister gave him and his lovely but “gone missing” wife to me back in the 90s. His wife went missing many years ago. I think I sent her to Good Will or maybe she’s still in the attic. He lives in the kids’ room. I saw him jumbled in with other toys and bears and dolls, and I picked him up to move him to the place he stays when the kids aren’t here. As I placed him in the corner, can you see what I noticed?