I broke into a nunnery. Before fingers start pointing and the police are called, I should state that it was an accident. Also it wasn’t my fault, unlike the time that my Grandma got arrested which was a little bit my fault. If we’re going to get technical about it, the whole break-in situation was my son’s fault. An explanation which sounds improbable but is true. I don’t know about you, but I’ve known some devious ten month olds in my day.
We had just moved to town, and Tex had a concert. Prior to heading out the door, he wrote down directions to the place and quickly told me the name of the building. It sounded like it could have been a place of worship, or a school. One of the two.
So there I was, running late, of course, because there is no other way to run with a ten month old baby. Also it was snowing. Not the nice, “Oh look, the yard is a snow globe” kind of snow, no it was the “You thought the world was going to end in flames? Wrong, it’ll be encased in ice” type of snow.
Popping Mini-Tex into the carrier and ducking my head to shield my face from the barrage of ice pellets, I ran from the car towards the building, which was a school, or a large church. Definitely one of the two. The snow obliterated sight, so unless the building was called “blank white space”, I have no idea what it said. Sitting here, reflecting on this blustery, winter moment, I realize that the whole debacle was actually the weather’s fault. If I am ever tried in court, I plan to pin the crime on Mother Nature. That woman is an unpredictable capital B sometimes.
Sprinting my late self and son up the steps, I pulled open the door, hoping to figure out where in the heck I was. Directly in front of me were two unassuming pieces of printer paper, one with the word “school” on it, directing to the right, and the other with “sisters”, concisely directing people up the other stairwell. This didn’t help me to figure out where I was, but I was fairly certain that any concert would be held in a school auditorium so I veered right.
The thing about small towns is that the school is the church, is also the curling rink, is the funeral home, is the dance hall, is the farmer’s market but the last one is only held there every other Saturday in the winter months. So I was just as likely to walk into a musical performance as to be yelled at to “hurry hard”, or have to pay my respects to a person I never knew, or quickly learn the steps to the electric slide with a baby on my back, as to find my husband.
Luckily I won the town lottery that day and found the right spot, which was just as well because any directions I would have received, had I been lost, would have included turning right at McPherson’s old farm even though McPherson hasn’t owned the land in years and no one can remember when the sign on the corner disappeared. Seeing my husband, I breathed a sigh of relief.
A quick sigh though, because I had to nurse Mini-Tex before my husband took the stage. Mini-Tex had just reached that challenging stage where he was still dependent on breastmilk but everything in the world was more exciting than boobs. The fact that in about twelve years, the only thought on Mini-Tex’s mind would be boobs, didn’t help me in the moment. Hence, I went off in search of a quiet, secluded place to feed him.
The band was occupying what looked like a teacher’s lounge, so I headed across the corridor to a darkened room. It was large and furnished with furniture which would have been trendy in your grandmother’s living room in 1940. Perhaps this was another teacher’s lounge? A super plush but dated one that the staff could mark tests in? But I wasn’t in search of a comfortable wing backed chair, I was looking for silence. The din from across the hall made Mini-Tex’s head whip around, he was desperate to figure out how to get in on the action.
On the other side of the room, beyond the floral-printed settees was a door. I still had yet to figure out the building’s purpose, but I was 100% sure it was a school with old furniture. Or a church with a lot of upholstered seating. Regardless, having grown up in a church, not like Quasimodo style obviously with my parents locking me in the bell tower until I bathed ( I would still be there), but more like, spent an average of two nights and a morning there, I was comfortable in God’s various homes. Like everyone but the moon children who learn math and history from their mothers, I had also spent the majority of my childhood in schools, making the other option a familiar stomping ground. Either way, I felt confident about the odds of locating an out of the way office or classroom to quietly nurse in.
I crossed the room and tried the door handle, it turned easily. On the other side of the door was the plushest, most luxurious carpet I had ever seen in any church or school. Not wanting to wet it with my boots, I slipped them off, and stepped inside a spartanly decorated room. It contained two wingback chairs, clearly the interior designer loved firm but cushy back support, and a desk with a wooden chair. There were only two items on the desk; half a pear and a knife.
At this point in the story when I was relaying it to my mother, she stopped and shrieked “Unwashed, tell me you didn’t eat the pear.” I didn’t. However I was getting a super weird vibe from the place. This was the weirdest school/church/curling rink that I had ever visited, however, Mini-Tex was finally eating with gusto, so I wasn’t about to return to the noisy room. Instead, I tiptoed towards what looked like an open entrance to a closet or another office.
Peering around the corner I saw a double bed, covered with a hand-tatted, lace quilt. Even if this was the most swanky sick room where students laid down before being picked up by their parents, the whole place was feeling way too strange for me, so I quickly hightailed it out of the room back to the band’s meeting spot. The musicians were just packing up their instruments to go onstage, so Mini-Tex and I made our way into the auditorium and found a seat near the back.
Mini-Tex bounced on my lap for three numbers, but wiggled his way loose during a march. Chasing my son as he crawled for freedom towards the exit, I spotted them, the two sisters sitting together in the last row. No doubt the third one was standing eating her pair, looking at the imprints my feet made on her carpet wondering “Who’s been looking at my bed?”
When I finished sharing the story with my mother, she gave me some sage advice; “Unwashed, when you feel the need to remove your shoes, that’s when you need to turn back.” I thought I’d share this wise nugget with you dear readers, so none of you make the same mistake, although clearly it wasn’t my mistake, it was entirely a combination Mini-Tex’s need to nurse, Mother Nature and small towns’ odd habit of multi-purposing buildings. I think of this story sometimes though, when I hear moms comment that they don’t have anything to tell their husbands at the end of the day- these ladies just aren’t committing enough break and enters.