This morning, I slapped my coffeemaker upside the head.
Don’t give me that look.
It was being difficult.
And I wasn’t in a childish enough mood to pretend that it was a dragon (as I’ll often do when it starts steaming and sputtering, even though we both know that it’s just for show, that it’s all bark and no bite), but I wasn’t in an adult enough mood to admit that, well, gee, maybe it’s time for a new coffeemaker.
I’ve never been very good at taking care of things.
Luckily, I’m quite good at making it look like I’m very good at taking care of things.
But don’t you see, when I make those pretty little odds and ends for you and her and him and them, that I’m just distracting all of us (me, mostly) from everything that I’m neglecting?
Tonight, once I’d finished washing the dishes, I finally cleaned the coffee pot.
Thoroughly, I mean.
I took a cloth and gently wiped away the umber stains on the inside of its round little belly, the stains that I’ve never seen fit to remove in the year or so that I’ve had it.
“Because I’m the only one who uses it.”
“Because they’ll just come back next time I make coffee.”
“Because it’s just a coffee pot.”
And I realized that I spend a great deal of time playing house.
When you’re young, you practice caring for important things by caring for what you’re told are not-so-important things.
You care for a baby doll to practice caring for a baby.
But what about the baby doll?
It’s only when you grow up that you realize this, I guess.
That the not-so-important things aren’t just stand-ins: that they’re important too, and that they deserve care in their own right.
And so it goes: we must care for the supposedly not-so-important in order to practice caring for the important, only to learn that the not-so-important is what we could, and probably will, find important someday.
I’ve always been “the artist” in our family.
It’s never been a title that I’ve had to defend.
So, tonight, when my sister contacted me and mentioned that she was “trying in vain to draw a picture of Frankie,” I didn’t think much of it.
Until she showed me what she’d drawn.
And let me tell you:
It’s absolutely beautiful.