Better Way

Dear J-

If we met tomorrow what would I say? Our lives intersected with regularity for six years and then intermittently for another six, finally ending, more or less, when I said I was engaged and I went on an inadvertent date with a man (I thought it was in the spirit of collegial freedom that he offered dinner somewhere, but when he showed up with wine and a smile I became … uncomfortable). I should tell you what happened next: I called theVet, or perhaps she called me — and as we spoke I mentioned with some amusement what you’d said after I’d tracked you down via 411 and spoken with you on the phone, for the first time since we left the Bay Area. She called back, did I tell you, during the “date” which was an opportunity for us to argue for hours, seemingly, and rendered the already semi-drunk man on my couch asleep within minutes.

So in a way you saved me from that date which I didn’t realize was a date until it was too late so thank you. The rest as they say is history, right? Not so much. I graduated left school in August ’98 with a master’s degree (as my academic father would have it, the master’s is something you get when you don’t or can’t get a PhD, although that’s being unfair to him) and have been living with her ever since; married in July 2000, with kids following in 2007 and 2010. All very cut-and-dried and we’re well on our way to the house with 2.2 kids and a white picket fence, a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway. I suppose next I’d tell you some more amusing stories about my life, like the time I called the dead animal removal service to try to get a job, or the number of white vans I shopped for, thinking I could open up shop as a plumber if nothing else.

I went as far as to shop for coveralls at thrift stores (work clothes tend to lead hard lives and what you’ll find has been thoroughly trashed, in general; you’re better off finding occasional wear, like sport coats and ties) after they advised me to try crawling under the house for a few hours to see if I could stomach it. But I fear the amusing stories might get in the way of the real, solid truth: the incremental pace of life hasn’t always been super-exciting or always amusing (although I find myself laughing at least once a night at some of the kids’ antics or what they say: I’ve turned into my aunt, forever amused at the cute of kids) but it’s been steady and we have had good, lucky lives to date.

And then I’d realize I’d been hogging the conversation and ask what’s new with your life, how have you been, it’s good to see you again, why don’t we talk any more: twelve years of contact and then twenty of silence, really? We can do better.

Mike

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