note to world #1100

She could lock the car but she couldn’t see the use on a day like today.

Not only was it bitterly cold, but the driver door had suddenly ceased to function altogether.  To get out, she had crawled into the backseat – in the full regalia of her business clothes – and stumbled out onto the salt encrusted parking lot, giggling and feeling a bit like a circus clown.  Her newly salty white knees and red face did not help dispel the feeling.  Neither did the looks on the faces of her work colleagues.

If someone else wanted the pleasure of the traveling carnival that was her car, they would be welcome to it.

Note to world #936

In a flash of pure illogic, she packed the kids in the car and drove to the nearest liquor store. 

At 9 pm. 

On a school night. 

In the freezing cold. 

In their pajamas. 

She parked the car and left the girls waiting for her inside the idling vehicle. This wouldn’t take long. 

She knew exactly what she wanted. 

She burst into the liquor store.  She eyed the clerk. He nodded. 

He knew what she wanted too. 

He handed over a Powerball lottery sheet and she filled it out and paid. She scurried out of the store and back to the car. 

The girls were waiting, confused and annoyed. But she was practically giddy from the high of her irrational exuberance.  

Is this what they meant when they said ‘ignorance is bliss’?

She even sent an email saying she wouldn’t be at work the next day if she won the lottery. And then she went to bed, worn out completely from her small bit of fun. 

Note to world #612

She woke up to rain – heavy rain – and wondered how long it was going to last. Cold rain was her least favorite weather and today, all her ‘must do’ tasks were outside: walk the dog a few times and take the garbage cans to the curb. 

She could check the forecast and maybe plan her day accordingly but she also didn’t want to ruin the surprise that nature could bring to her otherwise dull existence. 

Note to world #803

So far, basketball season has been quite a hoot. 

The younger daughter’s team hasn’t won a single game. But much to my delight : their coaches – two of the high school girl basketball players – get so excited about the game that I think the team hasn’t noticed their streak of losses.  Every score is a major cause for celebration, even when the ball goes into the wrong basket (a frequent occurrence!). 

And it’s a town league so the girls know each other well and almost all the team’s fouls seem to be followed by profuse apologies.  

They’ve also developed a funny team chant that they yell after every defeat – er, game: it goes like this: “L-Y-N-X, Lynx, Lynx, ’cause you don’t know what’s coming next !”  

Except at this point, I kind of do know what is coming next. It’s fun anyway and I love their zeal.  I wish they could feel this way about everything. 

My older daughter is the manager for her team and injured herself with the pencil keeping stats.  I’m discouraged from watching those games because I’m currently the “soooo embarrassing“mom.  I have heard that, based on the ages and gender of my children, this awkward phase of my development will last for about a decade. 

Sigh.  It’s just another day of parental paradise in suburbia. 

Note to world #515

When I studied my writings for the past several months, one trend really emerged: I mostly speak about myself and my life either in images or in the third person. 

The funny thing is that I have also heard the beginnings of psychosis described this way….

It’s just so damn fine, that line between crazy and lonely. 

Note to world #405

She was too busy to even make regular friends anymore – let alone meet potential boyfriends.  Her hectic schedule did not discourage her from trying anyway – though she cut out her personal grooming efforts to make time for socializing.  But upon reflection perhaps this reordering of priorities had negatively impacted her friend-making attempts.  

The veteran

When she came along, he was already quite old – and he had been away in the service when her older siblings were growing up. When he retired from the military, she was the last one left of the chaotic mess of girls they had.  But now he was just an older veteran struggling to patch together a living for his family.  For quite some time after his retirement, he lived in his head, numbly sitting in his white undershirt at the kitchen table drinking cup after cup of coffee. Even in the night, she would sometimes wake up to find him sitting at the kitchen table, the dark small space illuminated by his white shirt and the burning red ember of a cigarette.  

Her mother got a job to make ends meet – as a dishwasher at a restaurant – and worked long tiring hours.  She was basically left somewhere between alone and sitting silently with him at the kitchen table.  

When he found work, she asked to come and he took her.  And soon, he crafted a stream of work for himself.  He gathered himself together again incrementally, and turned into a man who had strong discipline and humble habits. She later felt this was his effort to structure his loosely configured days and to save himself from drowning in bad coffee at the kitchen table. Even then, though, fathering was not his central focus and he treated her more like a curious companion than his child.  He took her everywhere he went when he could – even places that might have made other parents pause.  She became a part of his work routine, his sidekick during the day – and she joined in his other rituals, too.  She was simply grateful not to be left alone in the cramped kitchen. She kept quiet and out of his way and tried to be helpful when she could.  He came to rely heavily on her silent presence to keep him steady. 

***

She went to the post office with him nearly every Saturday to check the small glass-faced mailbox he kept for business. He had asked for a low box so she could peek in herself without having to be held and when she got older, she could turn the key herself too.

***

When she stopped coming along, he had to bend his tall frame quite low to reach the tiny box and sometimes the postmaster – seeing the man’s painful effort – would simply have the mail waiting for him in a bundle when he came in each Saturday.

***

In the summer, she would come with him on the nights he sat at the local diner drinking rounds of coffee with the other “regulars” at the counter – other men who were also looking for a place to belong in this post-military existence. The men would sit around and talk about their war days, car repairs and other minor personal misadventures and family troubles.  They would stir endless packets of sugar and plastic thimbles of lukewarm creamer into murky cups of burnt coffee and sometimes get this far away look in their eyes. She would sit and listen to their stories.  If it were late enough, she might even order a second dinner – a bacon cheeseburger with french fries – a secret they both kept from her mother : her because she thought her mother would not want her to eat so much and him because he thought her mother would want him to save that money.

***

She eventually lost interest in bacon cheeseburgers and old stories. Around the same time, all of her father’s diner friends seemed to die or move away, and then because he had no one with whom to trade tales over bad coffee, he sank into a silent remembrance of his own at the kitchen table.

***

In the winter as a child, she and he would sit elbow to elbow in pajamas in their tiny kitchen and have a bowl of cold cereal before bedtime. They would not exchange any words, just share the sounds of crunching up of bowls brimming with corn flakes or shredded wheat against the loud steady tock of the wind-up cuckoo clock mounted on the wall.

***

When she was an adult, he switched to bowls of salty soft vanilla ice cream.  He said he could no longer taste food, plus he had lost a good number of teeth.  And as his work dried up, sometimes he forgot to wind up the clock too, and those nights he ate alone at the table in a white undershirt in pure silence, no pendulum or companion against whom to mark his cadence.

***

She was not at all surprised when they called her in the middle of the night to say he had died alone in a field.  She was not even alarmed when they suggested he might have killed himself.  It was almost what she had expected.  She had not sat at the kitchen table in a very long time.