A look back, this is from Birdie’s journal, 3/30/11
When Birdie hit those menopausal years, the cardinal effect, even more than the hot flashes, was her feeling of the need to breathe better. It wasn’t a physical weakness. Nothing was wrong with her lungs. It was just a growing perception that things were closing in, mounting up, crowding closer, becoming jumbled and disorganized, collecting unending dust, complicating her life, and using up her air.
Gerald and Birdie were chronic remodelers, which is an unfortunate circumstance for someone sensing a lack of air. This present remodel had been motivated by the fact that Gerald wanted to take a bath. It’s not like Gerald hadn’t been bathing up until now, but he’d been taking showers, and he much preferred baths.
Birdie was looking forward to the new bathroom, but first she had to live through the remodel without filing for divorce, getting sent to prison for murder, or being taken into custody at the mental ward.
Birdie had no doubt the finished product would be magazine worthy. But when Gerald did a remodel at his own house, he didn’t proceed in the same manner as he did for his clients. There was no masking of the work space to prevent demolition grit and dust from invading the rest of the house. Their en suite master bath had been gutted with only the door closed between it and the bedroom that Birdie and Gerald were still sleeping in. What’s more, all the bathroom equipage was dumped, stacked, and waiting on the bedroom floor along with the new fixtures. The $500 bidet that Gerald had gotten for $15 (because it was a display model–they certainly never would have gotten a bidet otherwise) was parked in front of the picture window. Birdie hadn’t decided how she felt about the bidet. She was a little embarrassed just saying the word bidet.
All the stuff that had been in the old bathroom cabinets was in a pile next to Birdie’s vanity. There were three electric razors–none of which were ever used–, a teeth whitening kit, lots of partially used bottles of shampoo, a package of panty liners that Birdie had bought once when she thought she was going to have to run or bounce, or jump, or participate in some incontinence triggering activity. She couldn’t remember. And all those toothbrushes and floss from the dentist’s office… She had kept them because she thought they would come in handy to pack when she and Gerald went on trips. Apparently, they’d gone to the dentist more often than they had traveled.
Well, she needed a space on the floor to walk, and she needed to vacuum the grit off the carpet so that walking barefoot didn’t repulse her, and she needed to weed out all the things that she and Gerald had lived without because it had all been under the bathroom sinks undisturbed for all these years. Somehow, she knew if she did this, the air would be sweeter.