Bay Reflections

Vol. 8, No. 7
February 17-23, 2000
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Bearing the Lightness of Being
by Aloysia C. Hamalainen

I wrestled with the insolent computer all day, begging it to accept my hardware, pleading with it to run the software. The arrogant monitor sneered “Fatal error,” “File not found” and “unable to configure …”

At the end of the work day, it was all I could do to weakly pound the mouse pad three times in submission. As I slunk down the hallway to go home, I could hear the cyber Jabba the Hut mock me, “I’ll see you tomorrow, heh, heh, heh.”

Gritting my teeth against the sleeting wind, I remembered with dread the promises to deliver a package for a colleague and to make hot mashes for my out-of-town friends’ horses. By the time I had been engorged and disgorged from train and bus, I was feeling as high as an ant’s knee, if one could be found in this miserable weather.

To be numbed by the television wrapped up in my down comforter beckoned to me. Why can’t I just say I did it — and not? But the package glared at me like a squatting toad and my two daughters waited.

I crab-walked to the van, carrying carrots, the package and a thermos. It was the lead cannonballs lumped on my shoulders, though, that made it so hard to climb in. That, and my eyebrows were so tightly clenched I could barely see over the steering wheel.

“No fighting, no screaming, and no arched-place food,” I growled over the bubbly chatter.

I vaguely knew the person I was delivering the package to, a well-known government type. Pulling into the driveway, I knew he would be mad because I was late and did not call first. An elderly woman met me at the door and reached for the package. “You are so kind to come out on this nasty night. Thank you so much!” Her smile was a golden beam that warmed my stunned face. At that second, one of the clanking cannon balls burst like a soap bubble and evaporated in the moonlight.

It really wasn’t so bad going down the long road to the barn. Still, I glumly bet my daughters that we would have to go out in the dark field to gather the horses, and that they would stomp on my feet going through the gates. But there were three expectant equines waiting under the floodlight, and the soft nickers and snorting made a lovely harmony. Ping, and another cannonball burst into nothingness.

I found myself smiling as I mixed the fragrant mash. Each gelding danced through the gates like a gentleman doing a minuet, never pulling the rope in my hands. When I released them, they blissfully buried their noses into the feedpans. I chuckled out loud.

It was only when I lugged my horse’s turnout blanket to the paddock that I realized I was still in my office shoes. Patent leather pumps are no defense against four-inch deep muck. “Arrrgghhh,” I mumbled, and started to open the gate.

“Wait, I’ll do that, Mom,” I heard my daughter say behind me.

“You can’t even reach his back,” I said, turning around to look down at my daughter. Instead, I looked straight into identical eyes. “When’d you get so big?”

“When’d you get so short?” she said, laughing, as she scooped the blanket out of my arms, threw it over the horse’s back and buckled all the belts. The last of the cannonballs floated away.

Of course, we went to that arched place for dinner. We clinked paper cups in celebration of the warmth of genuine gratitude and the simple pleasure of unexpected help. “That lady was so nice, Mom. I’m glad we made it out there. They were waiting for us!”

As I drove home, queen of the road, I rolled my shoulders deliciously. I would have been warmer if I stayed home. But I never would have had this feeling of lightness.

Reflecting for New Bay Times in 1997, Hamalainen took a second place in the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association Editorial Awards competition.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly