It was a dark and stormy night.
Actually, it was a frigid January night, and all the homes in our old neighborhood were shut tight. As tight as the skin on Joan Rivers’ face.
I was in the bathroom bathing the kids, then ages 4 and 2. Roger was out of town and not due until the following night. His absences were particularly hard during those early years, and I would celebrate his return with a quick peck on the cheek (well, not consistently) as I headed out the door to go, well, anywhere alone for several hours.
Our home was, at the time, 115 years old, a majestic Victorian with “character” in Denver proper. The sole bathroom was on the second floor, a small postage stamp-size with limited cabinet and towel-hanging space. It had a row of windows that faced the south.
The kids played for a bit and once they were squeaky clean I pulled them out and bundled them up in their ducky towels. Reed, the 2 year-old, was the first to be ready to leave the steamy room. He pulled on the doorknob — original with the house — and it came off in his hand, to his delight.
“Look, Mommy!” He presented me with what he thought was a glorious unexpected windfall.
My eyes grew wide in horror as the implications washed over me, drowning me in dread.
- I was locked in a bathroom.
- With two small children.
- For 24 more hours.
- No food, blankets, pillows, clothes (for them), diapers (for Reed), and with only a few bath toys for entertainment.
This was in the time before ubiquitous cell phones.
Can you feel my horror?
Looking for a way out, I opened the creaky windows and a blast of arctic air rushed in. I yelled, “HELLO? CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?” several times, hoping against hope that someone was out and about in our neighborhood as evening bordered on night. What I thought they could do to help, I did not know. My call was greeted by calm silence that belied what was going on inside me.
I managed the panic the best I could and resigned myself to our fate. It would be HORRIBLE but not life-threatening. Hopefully. I mean I HOPED I would not threaten anyone’s life in the coming 24 hours, especially my own. I began to contemplate how we would all sleep in the bathtub with only two ducky towels, a hand towel and a washcloth to serve as mattress, blankets and pillows.
It was going to be a loooooooooooooooooong night. I was filled with hatred for the house.
Suddenly, with one stroke of genius, Tessa saved the day. “Mom! Look!”
She pointed at the phone (landline!) I’d had in my hand as their bath started, now sitting on the counter under an unused washcloth.
Hear the sounds of angels singing a four-part chord, bathed in a warm heavenly glow?
My adrenals unclenched as I dialed my parents. I found Mom and Dad at home, told them my plight and asked if they would let themselves in with our spare house key and release us from our prison.
Thirty minutes later we were sprung. We slept in our beds, our amazingly comfortable, warm and spacious beds. In the morning we ate a delicious breakfast — Cheerios never tasted so good.
I love my parents. Can’t say the same for that house. I’d been thinking of moving for awhile, trading in for a younger, roomier model in the ‘burbs. Did my house want to be the breakER rather than the breakEE? What-ev.
We sold it 4 months later. Doorknobs and all.
Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Her second book, Standing Room Only: How to Be THAT Yoga Teacher is now available in paperback, and her third book, Adoption Unfiltered, will be published in late 2023.
Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.