five minute Friday, improvising

Five-Minute Friday: What Mama did

Before you say anything, I do know it’s Saturday. Although I sometimes feel like I live under a rock, I can still tell the difference (mostly) between a weekend and a weekday. Since I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, though, I’m sharing my five-minute Friday with you all today.

For those who don’t know, Five-Minute Friday is a writing challenge: write for five minutes in response to a prompt without over-editing, backtracking, or thinking about it too much. The idea is to see what happens if we just let the words flow freely for a few minutes and let go of the need to be perfect. You should try it sometime…once you get over the initial hump of “oh-there’s-no-WAY-I-could-do-that,” it’s a freeing experience…and it’s always a treat to see what the other writers come up with.

Five Minute Friday

Enough introduction…here’s my contribution this week.

The first dress she showed me how to make was for Barbie…an old crew sock, cut just so and belted with a scrap of grosgrain ribbon. She was always good at making something out of nothing, improvising with what she had, creating something worth looking at without troubling too much about the particulars. When people were coming over, she’d fly around the kitchen and pick it all up- the piles of papers, the receipts, a stray plastic bag, a Bic pen without a top and a twisty tie from the bag of bread and my sister’s hairbrush and part of a deck of cards. She swept the counters clean of all the mess and clutter and stuff no one is allowed to see, dropped it all into a brown paper bag and banished it to the laundry room. It joined the others on top of the dryer, safely shut away behind louvered doors in the dark (where no one goes unless she is missing a sock or wants to soften up the stiffened drip-dried blue jeans before pulling them on and escaping out the door with a Pop-tart, late for school again).

She hid all of it- all the piles, the anxiety created by their unsorted chaos, stuffed it away to deal with it later. Her mother had done it before her, piling dirty dishes into the oven to get them out of sight when unexpected visitors came around. You do what you have to do when you’re in a pinch. Make it look pretty good on the front, and no one will turn it over to see the extra stitches you put in the back to hold it together.

And so, as my children’s godmother is coming up the front walk, I am closing my own laundry room door securely on my piles of papers and unwashed towels, my mother’s voice in my head:

“It’s all about the overall effect.”

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