The universe conspires in mysterious ways 2016.06.15


My daughter Rosie and her family moved this past weekend. 

“It’s 15 minutes closer to you!” she said brightly when announcing they were buying a house in Lexington.

Moving from one house in Lexington to another didn’t really do anything for me. I keep hoping all my kids will move closer to home, but it’s not looking very likely. Maddie’s boyfriend just moved out to California to be with her, and Ben and Sarah both have great jobs in Miami. So I have to settle for short snatches of time when they visit or we travel to them—like I did this weekend in a hastily arranged trip to Lexington.

With Summer Reading season upon us I didn’t think I’d be able to get away to help Rosie with the move—mostly by taking care of the grandgirls, including a very sick Caroline. But I spent a marathon night taking care of business at the library and left town only an hour and 45 minutes later than anticipated on Friday morning.

It’s such an agonizingly long trip from Morenci to Lori Lane. Something always seems to go wrong, like the universe is conspiring against me: erratic driver ahead of me, crazy driver pulling out in front of me, heavy traffic, rain, accidents, construction. As Rosie would say, “I think your only answer is leave earlier.” That’s what she said when I texted asking for advice on the best lane to be in while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Cincinnati. 

I always pick the wrong lane—whether it’s at a store or on the road, you don’t want to be behind me. I should do research on lane picking. I read somewhere that when you approach a toll booth you should pick a lane with trucks because even though they take up more space, there are fewer transactions. But if everyone applies the same rules of thumb about lane choosing, it seems like the “right” lane will get crowded with everyone who knows the “rule.”

Luckily, the grandkids keep me from investing too much thought in such mundane matters. Keeping five-year-old sick Caroline comfortable and keeping two-and-a-half-year-old Ellie from undoing the packing process is a tall enough order. 

I hate to say this out loud, because who would wish sickness on a kid, but it actually came in handy that Caroline was down for the count during moving day. She has a hard time letting go of books and toys and such so it was a painless process for Rosie to hand off items to me that were destined for Goodwill. I loaded those in my car and, to avoid additional clutter on moving day, I put most of my stuff back in my car.

No, this isn’t going to be a story about mixing up bags destined for Goodwill and the dry cleaner’s like my brother did when he gave Goodwill a bag of his wife’s clothing meant for the dry cleaner’s and the bag of clothes meant for the dry cleaner’s to Goodwill. 

This is a story about a car sitting in the blazing sun in front of the house on a 90+ degree day with a suitcase of clothes containing a small jar of coconut oil and a backpack containing a small bottle of hand sanitizer. The evening before I had put a Goodwill bag of clothes in my car and periodically I added other giveaway items to the car. 

Later in the afternoon I opened the car door to add another item and to rearrange and cover up any items that Caroline might see. She was getting better and would be up and about soon. I could tell. She had heard her sister playing with a musical toy microphone and yelled, “Ellie!!!!! That’s mine!” after barely uttering anything since I had arrived.

I was struck by the smell of lavender as I shifted the bag of clothes and thought Rosie must be using a whole lot of a new kind of detergent. Then I had an idle thought and checked my backpack. Yup, my bottle of Dr. Bronner’s lavender hand sanitizer had melted and some of the liquid had leaked out.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered the coconut oil leak. What a tragedy. My very favorite Blue Canoe purple organic cotton t-shirt had borne the brunt of the leak. Tragedy upon tragedy when I discovered another Blue Canoe shirt had also succumbed to the coconut oil. And on it went.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived home to discover the Blue Canoe 70% off sale. The universe conspires in strange ways.