The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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"I'm in the closet. Chicken and dumplings are in the oven."

November 10, 2003

Listened to the show on Saturday and it was not bad. The plan was for Mr. Sundberg to take the kids to their violin lessons and out for ice cream which would give me a solid two hours of quiet. I was good and comfortable on the couch, belly-laughing, even, at the thought of Earl's Academy of Accents. I didn't think I had an accent until I went to New York with my husband. He was giving motivational speeches while I wandered around taking pictures and window-shopping. In Central Park, I met a corporate secretary named Wendy who works in Manhattan. We talked for a while and I was telling her the differences between lake fishing and river fishing when she laughed and said, "Say 'boat' again." I said, "Boat." And she said she knew I was from Minnesota from my accent and I thought, Oh, for God's sake.

Anyway, I was all relaxed on the couch feeling a bit sad while Robin and Linda Williams sang their "October Light" song. Mr. Keillor asked if it was a song about getting old and they didn't say for sure, but I know it was. Mainly because it got me thinking about how when I was a kid all I wanted to be was grown up, but then it seems all of a sudden I was grown up and wanting to be young again. It's kind of sad how we're never completely happy where we are.

I try to be, you know. The kids are healthy and don't scream in church anymore, and my husband often says, "Now this is what I had in mind." Sometimes, though, I just really want to be alone for a while. Which is how I was feeling Saturday, and when the phone rang and my husband told me the violin teacher was sick and they'd be home in ten minutes.

When the station wagon rolled into the garage, I was in the kitchen closet with the door pulled shut, sitting on the Coleman cooler next to the purple boom box I gave the kids last Christmas. With the headphones on, I could hear the show just fine. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the wall. The kids came up the basement steps and went straight to the living room to watch TV. I heard my husband pause at the top of the steps where I'd taped a note for him written on yellow paper: "Shh: I'm in the closet. Chicken and dumplings are in the oven. I'll be out when the show's over."

I listened in peace to the the story about the deer hunter who brought his own sheets and a bayberry candle and just wanted to be alone. Bayberry candles are my favorite, and I was smiling and nearly forgot where I was until the bluegrass music started up and so did my foot tapping and before I knew it I knocked over the baseball bats and the ironing board. The kids must have heard because the door opened and they were all right there looking at me as if I'd lost both my marbles and the bag they came in.

Closets are a good thing when you need a little space, and even better if you need a good cry. My husband says when we build our dream house we can have a stereo system wired into every room and the best oven money can buy. As long as there are closets, and a river nearby, that's all fine by me.

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