ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Blow Dryers, Mobile Homes + When to Shut Your Fucking Macbook, Already

In: Life,

I was pissed.

It was 1998. I was 14. I had just put the finishing touches on my 90’s style bangs, sculpting and spraying them into the perfect 360 degree fan – you remember the kind where the top half curls backward, and the bottom half forward, right? (If you say no, that means you’re younger than me. First of all, fuck you, and second of all, stop driving behind me while looking at your crotch while texting the guy that’s just not that into you on your rhinestone pink “bling bling” iPhone.)

I’m a nice girl. Really. (Says she with the blog titled, The Middle Finger Project.)

Anyway. My bangs. And the work of art that they were.

Enter: My mother.

I see her out of the corner of my eye, as she props her elbow up in the door frame of my bedroom, and hits me with the news–the same bad news she had delivered two other mornings earlier that month.

“Ash,” she would start, hesitantly and with a softness to her voice, as if she were whispering, almost scared to say it.

“Mmmmhmmm?”

“The pipes. They’re frozen again.”

I drop my brush.  Shit.

Really mother nature? Are you purposely trying to screw up my life? You must be, because if you weren’t, you’d keep the temps in a semi-normal range suitable for those silly little creatures called HUMAN BEINGS, and while we’re on the topic, you wouldn’t have been so kind as to “bless” me with these “big bones” of mine, either. Yeah, thanks for that.

So there I am. All dressed up and with someplace to go–school–but alas, the pipes are frozen again. And when the pipes froze, it only meant one thing: The blow dryer.

I take a deep breath, sigh, and immediately take off all the clothes I had just put on – the new purple jeans I bought over the weekend at JC Penney (shut up), and my creme-colored tee shirt, replacing them with yellow-gold sweatpants and a sweatshirt that bore the record of my middle school track team in red. I know the drill. I march into the bathroom to retrieve the blow dryer, grab the flashlight, and proceed outside, sinking into a foot and a half of snow with each carefully calculated step I take.

I loop around to the hydrangea tree out front, and drop to my hands and knees in front of it. I know the path well, and slowly but surely, me and my big ass bones manage to crawl through the snow, underneath the hydrangea tree, using my elbows to propel me forward.

I reach the underskirting of our 1977 mobile home – the white piece of vinyl that lines the bottom of most trailers you see. (If you’ve never seen a trailer, fuck you, too.)

I find the seam in the vinyl, and pry it open enough to wedge my body through the gap, and hoist myself underneath the trailer onto the cold, hard dirt floor. I turn the flashlight on, and freak out a little bit about all of the spider webs I see, and the fact that there could be a daddy long leg weaseling its way onto my perfectly primped 360 degree hair pouf without me even knowing it. But hey, the pipes are frozen, and someone’s got to handle it.

I drag my body a little further with my elbows, trying not to drop the flashlight or the blow dryer, which I had managed to plug in outside. Finally, I spot the pipes I’m looking for – the ones directly underneath our bathroom. I painstakingly make my way over to them, still deathly afraid that a spider will find its way up my pant leg, and then crank the blow dryer on full blast.

And I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait some more.

I suddenly hear a group of classmates giggling to themselves as they walk past my front yard, on their way to the bus stop. On their way to my bus stop–the same one I normally would have been at by now.

I tell myself that they aren’t giggling at me; that they can’t possibly know that I’m wedged underneath our trailer, lying on my stomach, blowing hot air onto our frozen pipes so my mom could cook and flush the toilet that day.

But I equally have to wonder if maybe they did see me–a flush of embarrassment and anger rushes to my face at the mere thought of it.

I suppose their pipes were insulated; they lived in two-story houses with basements and attics and staircases. For years, I marveled at the staircases in my friends’ homes–some wood, some carpeted, some with a little bit of both. Most 14 year old girls wanted CD players, or their first tube of lipstick, or a subscription to Teen Magazine. I secretly longed for a staircase.

After about 10 minutes had passed, my mom would yell back at me that the water was flowing again, meaning that my job there was done. I’d sigh with relief, trudge my way back out to daylight, make my way through the snow, get inside and hurriedly change back into my school clothes. My bangs were no longer perfect, but I didn’t have time to fix them, so I’d throw my hot pink and teal pick into my schoolbag, and hope I’d have time before first period.

Ah, those were the days.

At the time, I cursed my mother for making me be the adult; for making me handle such responsibilities, for making me do things that my dad would have done, if he hadn’t gotten cancer and passed away the month prior.  Yet, fast forward thirteen years later, and here I sit, snuggled warmly in my bed in my fancy apartment here in Santiago, Chile, having accomplished so much and likely to never have to crawl underneath a trailer ever again.

But I can assure you this: If I could bring either one of them back, for just one hour, to be able to sit and talk with them, and tell them how much I loved them, and have the chance to hug them one last time, you bet your ass I’d crawl underneath every goddamn trailer in all of The United States of America, heating every single goddamn pipe that there is to be heated, with so much as a lighter if I had to.

Tomorrow, Friday, April 29th, my mom would have turned 67 years old. Happy birthday, Momla. I’ll be buying a gift card for Lowe’s in your honor, since I know how much you loved it there. (Even though I’d always curse you for putting 10 bags of mulch in the car, and then making me clean it afterward. Ha.)

In addition, for all of you that may have forgotten, Mother’s Day is fast approaching.

With both of those things in mind, today’s post has nothing to do with your business, but rather, is dedicated to helping you remember when it’s time to be without it.

There are people in your life–your friends, your family, your significant other–who YOU ARE PAINFULLY, PAINFULLY TAKING FOR GRANTED.

You assume they’ll always be there, and you can make it up to them once you’re done writing yet another blog post, or done working another 16 hour day at the office.

But motherfuckinggoddammit….one day that’s not going to be the case. And that’s not an assumption–that’s a guarantee.

So the next time they ask you to get out the blow dryer and crawl underneath the trailer, or help them with something, or answer a question, or listen to a story they want to tell, or ask to hear one of yours…I suggest you shut your fucking Macbook, turn around, look them in the eyes, and tell them you’d be absolutely delighted to.

Because you should be.

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115 thoughts on "Blow Dryers, Mobile Homes + When to Shut Your Fucking Macbook, Already"

  1. Ah, I call my daughter Ash, too. That is a really sweet post. And am loving your way with words. Live on, Mom. Live on. 😉

    1. Anonymous says:

      Live on! His to your Ash. 🙂

  2. Ashley, I swear.  You make me laugh.  You make me want to help people.  And you make me want to cry.

    I haven’t quite experienced some of the same things you have, I am lucky, both of my parents are still with me and a part of my life.  But as I wrote about in the blog post I shared with your yesterday, I have known my share of loss — including the love of my life.

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the hell you are going through (ahem, this is The Middle Finger Project, so I’m adjusting language accordingly), there are things and people that matter.  I have been staring death in the face these last few years.  Been scared out of my mind.  In all of that, I lost sight of why I loved life — the companionship of my lovely wife, of our adorable puppy, of the other people in my life.  I became afraid of life, even though that life of love and children and hairdryers is exactly what I wanted.  It didn’t matter that I could barely get out of bed.  It didn’t matter that every day I take a cocktail of medication that probably is enough to make a horse crazy just to stay alive.  But, I lost sight of that and I lost what was most important to me.

    I’m still in shock over my divorce.  It’s harder than even the struggles I have every day just to stay alive and to stay healthy.  And each day it is hard, but I want to reach out and help others.  I want to figure out how to be a better person so, if I do get a chance for love again, I won’t lose it this time.  I want to make sure I spend time with and cherish those people I still have — cause I don’t know how much longer I will be around, or they’ll be around.  Or how long I’ll be able to see them (I am slowly going blind, too).

    Thanks for the beautiful story, told only the way that Ash can tell it.  If we ever meet, I’m giving you a big hug.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Holy smokes, Travis. Somehow this comment slipped through my email notifications and I am not seeing it until now….six months later.

      I just had to comment here, regardless of how much time has passed, because it sounds like you’re going through an incredibly rough time…and I hope that this community really is helping you, in some small way, to get your spark back.

      Sending YOU a big ass hug….thinking of you.

      Ash

    2. Anonymous says:

      Holy smokes, Travis. Somehow this comment slipped through my email notifications and I am not seeing it until now….six months later.

      I just had to comment here, regardless of how much time has passed, because it sounds like you’re going through an incredibly rough time…and I hope that this community really is helping you, in some small way, to get your spark back.

      Sending YOU a big ass hug….thinking of you.

      Ash

  3. This made me fucking cry. It hit a chord and thought of the many times my husband has asked me to turn to him, away from the computer, when he was trying to tell me a story and I reply with things that don’t make sense since I wasn’t totally focused on what he was saying. And my mom and dad in the Philippines whom I haven’t called for a little too long. Just wanted to say a quick thanks for this post before I turn off this stupid laptop and cuddle with my Johnny.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m so glad.

      I’ve had those moments, too.

      I try now–really hard–to remember that humans are my priority.

      Glad you took a second to comment, Marge. 🙂 

  4. Sally Hope says:

    Girl, this is really beautiful and puts things into perspective.  Thank you and I’m glad I was clicking around today.  You rock my world.  

    MWAH!
    Xo,
    S