OPINION: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Caspian Hoehne, Unsplash

I’m scared of storms.

Ever since I was a kid and the great tornado of 89′ tore through our tiny town, (think Dorothy Gale, Connecticut style), taking most of our trees with it, storms (or the threat of anything cyclonic) has left me circling my tail, dry mouthed and like a large domesticated animal, hiding in the shower (not recently) but I have braved the basement and its resident undead (that moment you realize you’re not alone and those Cheetos didn’t eat themselves).

So when Ida‘s remains decided to scatter her ashes across the East Coast, I was (selfishly) a little relieved to wake up with no interior flooding — but also no interior electricity. On balance, it seemed too good to be true. The howling wind, the great apocalyptic lightning show, the multiple sleep aids I employed in my effort to not become one with the shower and stop Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” a repeat offender from officially pushing me to the brink of more Benadryl.

We make our own prisons and dirty dishes, I thought to myself. I’m not sure what your house looks like in the morning but I think it’s fair to say a midsize fraternity might be living in our cabinets … like Pi Kappa Crunch all over the counter, all over the floor, all over … seriously, who poured cereal in my shoes? Delta, who? Delta New load of dishes to do if only and (minor detail here) the storm hadn’t put the kibosh on our wash because, um, thank you, local forecast, there was no running water in the kitchen or rest of the house for the foreseeable future.

Can I just say, I was fine (mostly) and honestly because (and not sure what this says) I’ve come to expect a fair amount of broken shit in my life — dishwashers, missing microwaves (story for another time), washing machines that actually succeed in making the clothes dirtier.

But breaking the news to two teenagers that not only were we without water but there also was no internet (gasp! sigh! Cry like the world is ending and win an Emmy for it!) made the storm seem about as scary as a fluffy bunny in springtime. Nevermind that there was nothing to drink or brush their teeth with or flush with. (God, we accumulate a lot of TP in a small window of time.)

There were no bars. No bars.

“Do you want cereal?” I asked my younger daughter, who sat at the table, looking forlorn, phone in hand, just waiting for something to magically ding or chime or pop up with Charli D’Amilio’s face on it.

“I don’t think I can even eat at a time like this,” she said, before thanking the Academy.

Probably better, considering most of the breakfast options were covering the floor like confetti. “It’s not the end of the world,” I said. “We’ll get the water fixed.”

“You think I care about the water? Seriously? I literally can’t get on TikTok. Do you have any idea what I’m going through right now?

I didn’t but I couldn’t help thinking about an article I read recently on teaching kids resilience. I realized I am pretty much terrible at this in the sense that I “weather the storm” so to speak but still do a fair amount of complaining in the process. I guess I’m just one of those people who has a hard time being like, “Hey kids, there’s a natural disaster about to hit our house … let’s play some Parcheesi to pass the time!” Or “Mommy cut her head open and is bleeding all over the floor … let’s make Mommy into a mummy and find those bandages! Silly Mommy!”

I am not fine. I am driving in the car with a laundry basket full of dirty dishes that smell vaguely of Velveeta, three industrial size loads of laundry and a screaming toddler who oddly enough does not share my affinity for Radiohead, staring at the “maintenance required” warning lit up on my dashboard and basically wishing in that moment my life was something other than what it was even though I love my kids, even though I’d take no running water and no bars to be the cleaner of combustible cereal, the maven of missing microwaves, the wonderful counselor of those going through a whole lotta social media withdrawal.

And I get it. Have you seen the filters on that thing? Who doesn’t love a good set of enhanced lashes and, can I just say, my eyes look really stunning in this mossy shade of green. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything except maybe that split second when a very nice livery car pulls into our driveway around 5:30 a.m. the next morning and I think, “Finally … Milo. You’ve sent for me!”

But the car vanishes as quickly as my never-ending need for escapism and yes, the water is back on and yes, we have bars, lots and lots of bars, and yes, there may or may not be roughly 40 pounds of filthy laundry sitting in the trunk of my car and the smell of Velveeta may or may not have permanently permeated the interior lining of my vehicle. Say, ‘Parcheesi!’ And yes, yes, yes, “Karma Police” may likely still be stuck in my head while I attempt to triage my kids’ very specific, very long list of demands on this lovely morning, here in Wilton all with an air of recovering quickly from these, albeit (in the grand scheme of things) minor, setbacks.

After all, it’s my job to teach these three about resilience. (You should definitely sigh here). God, help them.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.