Monday, February 6, 2012
I found myself back in the rental duplex I spent two days cleaning out last week. You guys, clean up your stuff. Just do it. It has been very interesting though, because I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the tenants. I’ve been putting together the bits and pieces of who they are. I think I have enough to create a character profile.
Rhonda had hoped for better for her life. Now 34, she worked as a nurse’s aide, which really just means doing the dirty work the nurses don’t want to do. Wiping, scrubbing and cleaning various elderly body parts are not uncommon for her in a given day. It’s not that Rhonda isn’t smart, or motivated, it’s just that obstacles crept into her life, and just when she conquered one, two more would pop up. Rhonda is plenty smart and plenty motivated, those qualities are just directed toward survival now.
Brian was as charming as he was unpredictable, and who can blame her for falling for him. She was 19. Sometimes, Rhonda wishes she could go back there, but, ultimately, she wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, Brian left, but she gained Alexis, the love of her life. Alexis is now 4 and requires all of Rhonda’s attention when she’s not working, but, honestly, Rhonda wouldn’t change it for anything.
Daycare puts Rhonda in a bind. A couple days a week, her sister takes Alexis, and a couple of days her mom does. The last day of the week, is always an adventure in arm twisting and calling in favors. The weekends are what she lives for. By Saturday afternoon Rhonda feels mildly rested and she is able to share the afternoon with Alexis, joining her fantasy world where hopeful things work out and disappointment doesn’t exist. Rhonda hopes to keep it that way for as long as she can. She can still remember when she was just a couple years older than Alexis is now and declare to her mother that she was going to be a doctor. Rhonda smiles when she remembers it. Since then, life has felt like a series of lowering standards. She’s determined it will be different for Alexis.
Sure, Rhonda is not on top of cleaning the house as she should be, when Alexis defiantly and triumphantly threw her SpaghettiO’s across the kitchen wall, Rhonda cleaned it, but more quickly than thoroughly. Priorities. She can only handle so much cleaning in a day. And, when Alexis insisted she wanted a dog, and Rhonda found out their neighbor’s dog had a litter, she couldn’t resist. The last thing Rhonda needed was something else to take care of, but the look on Alexis’s face made up for it when she brought the brown and black puppy in the door.
Now, the dog is relegated to the garage, with the rest of the toys that Alexis has discarded and Rhonda doesn’t know how to deal with. Maybe when Alexis is older, Rhonda will have the chance to become, if not a doctor, a real nurse. If Rhonda’s life has taught her disappointment, Alexis’s life has taught Rhonda hope, and that’s good enough for now. It has to be.