Sunday, November 2, 2014

Letting It Get to Empty - NaBloPoMo Day 2

The car was almost out of gas. I told my son we had to leave ten minutes earlier for school because I had just enough in the tank to get him there, but not me, back. We'd coast, I joked.

"Again? Why do you wait until the last minute? I don't get it, mom. Dad's right, you wait until you're on empty."

It's true, and his dad is right. I do wait until the last minute. The reason is so many reasons. Things they don't need to know and that my husband couldn't reference. I let the gas gauge read below the red 'E' and I keep driving through the dingding and the small flashing gas pump on the dashboard meant as a friendly reminder. I let it go for the same reason that I eat the ends of the bread loaf as toast when we could buy a loaf a day.

My husband and kids wonder why, about this and me and so many things. To them, I'm sure I seem ill prepared for all of life.

"It's OK, no big deal," I tell my son. "You know there's a gas station half way there. We'll leave early, you'll get to school at the same time you always do."

"It's just that I don't get how you are always out of gas, mom. I don't."

I want to tell him I'm sorry. To tell everyone in this house, I'm sorry. There's so much to the why, it was simpler when they just went along... but they're growing up after years with me and they don't go with the flow anymore. In the same way that I hear my husband's not so silent sigh when he needs my roomier car and I shout out to caution that it's on empty. I see how 20 years of me is a long time to see things go unchanged.

They think they want to hear the why -- they don't know that they'd just be stories of me growing up, one of six children, with one grandmother, one mother. A household living on the sole income of this one woman, who was new to this country and on her own. What kind of bed time story is that? A tale of me watching my mother in moments when she thought no one was there to see her at the dining room table, ripping up her bills in tight fisted anger. With just the sound of the tearing paper, I heard what she was saying. 

Make it last. All of it, the bread, the milk, the winter coat with the sleeves that stop right above your wrists so that's the part where you feel the prickly stab of icy rain the most. Wear it one more year. Make it last.

Make the gas last a full week. Wait until you can't anymore to get to the gas station. Make it one full week.

It's not for my children to know. Who likes to hear these stories, and more than anything, who likes to tell them.

My son and I pull into the gas station. It's early morning and the pumps are each available, something that always makes me feel like they're generously offering themselves. I choose the island to the left and I hear my son mumble about having to fill up before school again. I smile at the good life my children have. One where there can be no other reason for a mother who runs out of gas, than someone who is just neglectful in filling the tank.


*I'll be posting every day in November as part of National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo. Join in, sign in, for an entire month dedicated to writing. There are stories waiting to finally breathe... See BlogHer for all the information you need to get started
If you've written a NaBloPoMo post, feel free to share it in the comments.


  1. Hey there, I found you via the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    My Volkswagen Polo is extremely fuel efficient. I fill up on average once every 2 and a half months.

    Last time, I totally forgot the fuel light had come on about a week earlier, and I set off for lunch with the girls. I realised half way there - and there were no fuel stations, for at least the next 30kms. So I would have to make it there and back.. and I wasn't sure I had enough fuel to do this.

    As I neared the fuel station on the way home I knew, this time, I was really living on the edge.. The needle was the lowest I have ever seen it.. My car has a 45 litre tank, it took 45.67 litres. I very nearly did not make it. ;) The Other Half says it is bad for the car to always run it nearly dry, but those moments between when the fuel light comes on and I finally fill it up, those moments are special to me, for some wacky reason. :)

    As part of NaBloPoMo I challenge myself try to comment on as many participating blogs as I can, and I add all participating blogs to my feed reader.

    So I'm just dropping by to let you know I've added your blog to my feedreader, I'm reading you loud and clear, I have a link up going at my place so my readers can find participating blogs which you are more than welcome to add your blog link to.

    Looking forward to seeing your posts, and you'll likely see me drop by again during November.

    Happy NaBloPoMo to you!

  2. A lovely story.

    We are all products of our upbringing. Maybe some day your children will keep their gas tanks perpetually full. Not a bad outcome.

  3. ha. i am the one always pushing the limits ont he wife freaks out if she gets below 50 miles over empty....cause you never know if the guage is lying to you...and i have only ever ran out once...

  4. Beautifully written! I stretch, too, usually with groceries, trying to make due with three trips a month instead of once a week. And the kids sigh when I say, "Oh! Is water ok for dinner, and I'll get milk tomorrow?" even though they hardly ever choose milk on their own.

  5. Snoskred: I just visited you! Thanks for stopping by, and for your generous comment. This is one of my favorite parts of NaBloPoMo, the new friends we make!
    Diary: I will never tire of loving a full tank of gas.
    Melisa: Thank you, friend. See you Wens. (two for one NaBloPoMo that day)
    Brian: Why do we do it? It makes my husband go crazy...
    Angela: Such a kind compliment. Thank you, friend. xo

  6. Schmutzie: High praise. Thank you, friend.

  7. I'd argue these are exactly the stories your kids want and need to hear. To have a sense of our parents' parents is so significant (and trust me, I know you know this...I'm just blathering); I think often of my dad sighing with something like satisfaction when he would recall the day his mom, out on the Montana ranch, got a washing machine. And by "washing machine," I mean one the wringer types with a hand crank. He would always say, "It changed her life like nothing else." And now he's been dead for 11 years, yet I still think of my grandma, celebrating an easier kind of manual labor.

    Now, on to my usual, and I hope never boring, praise. You are such a hella good storyteller. I read your words and am inspired to open a new document and go at it. And you have my attention with the NaBloPoMo, which I've always ignored. While I don't know that I can post that frequently, it's something to consider here in the next day or two. Thank you.

  8. My husband is just like you with the gas, except for different reasons. He wants to see how far he can push the car on nearly empty. That scares paranoid me, I always fill up when the indicator is on the last bar near Empty.

  9. This brought tears to my eyes. Honestly, it did. Thank you for, as always, opening up and bringing the real. Being you and sharing you with us. xo

  10. For the record, I'm with Jocelyn. I think it is important for your kids to hear these stories!

    My mom was the same way. Everything needed to stretch as far as it could (and sometimes beyond). My psyche went the opposite way, though. I'm uncomfortable driving with less than a quarter tank of gas, I can't stop buying pasta sauce, and we have a closet packed with toilet paper.

  11. I love this. I feel the same way about food in the refrigerator.

  12. Jocelyn: I always want to say the same thing to you: I'm happy we met. Thank you.
    Alison: I'm sorry, I apologize for both of us. xo
    Andrea: And it's your comments that always bring tears to my eyes. Thank you,.
    Estelle: Thank you, dear friend . xo
    Nichole: The things that bring us comfort. xo
    MandyFish: The cabinets full of food, it brings me so much peace.



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