I wasn’t late.
I never really intend to be late anyway, but normally I am, despite my best efforts to plan ahead of time, for traffic, for getting ready. Despite the understandable outrage of those who are forever punctual, lateness doesn’t represent a lack of respect on my part, nor does it mean I think my time is more important than theirs.
It’s a function of a brain that works in kaleidoscope, rather than lines, the latter of which has starting points and focused destinations. Didn’t find that out until the diagnosis I received a few years ago.
But I digress. This was a rare victory, and I was relieved.
I even had time to relax for a bit. Sit down and watch the automatic doors as they briefly opened, and burped out a few people before closing again.
I could feel my heart starting to race, and found that I could no longer sit. So I stood up and watched the doors, until my little girl sauntered out, smiling.
She rolled her suitcases to the end of the ramp where I stood waiting. Both of us dropped our stuff and we grabbed each other for a huge and tearful hug.
I honestly forgot how long it had been since we last saw each other in person. We keep in contact all the time via phone (and occasionally by Skype) but hadn’t spent time together since, I’m guessing perhaps two years ago, when we went on a camping/canoeing trip together. And where I learned the importance of only camping with a trailer that features a Craftmatic adjustable bed. She on the other hand could camp out on the floor and not be affected. The brat.
After the hug, she stood back and mapped out my face, checking for imperfections. To her delight (and to my tolerant amusement) she found one. There was a single hair growing on my cheek, which it had no business doing. Mind you, there was like, a million of them growing on my chin and beneath my nose. But I guess those were okay, as they were only following instructions. So she plucked that one hair, saying “hold still, Dad. Take a deep breath”
I didn’t. I pluck hairs all the time from errant locations. I’m used to it, and the performance no longer brings tears or even flinching. I smiled. She plucked and missed.
Horrified, she said “oh I’m sorry. Let me try again. Are you okay?”
I nodded, still smiling. She plucked again and this time she got it.
Grooming all done, we turned and began walking. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Are you hungry? Did you get a bite to eat on the plane?”
She thought for a moment. “Well I could use a tea, Dad. Is there a coffee shop nearby?”
There was, and so we went, chattering as if we hadn’t spoken in a year. (Well, she chattered. I added an observation here and there).
Our relationship has always been like that though. We can not talk on the phone for weeks at a time, and when we connect, it’s as if we just spoke yesterday. I never realized how rare that was until encountering some folk who feel rejected if you don’t check in with them in scheduled intervals.
Afterward, and after dumping her suitcases into a limo-SUV (I really don’t know what to call those things: it’s a limo service, but our ride took the form of an SUV), I warned her about my place.
“You’re going to hate it” I said. She looked at me, grinning. We both knew she would be making some changes, even though she would only be there for a few days.
And change it she did. Prior to her arrival, I had the perfect bachelor setup: big-ass plasma TV, front and center, Lazy-boy chair right in front of it. Dolby surround-sound speakers placed in such a way as to make the chair the “sweet spot” for….well, for pretty much everything.
The sofa was to my right, along the wall.
As soon as we walked in the door, I braced myself. This wouldn’t do. Not at all. And she confirmed it fairly quickly.
She also didn’t like my office setup, which was situated in the dining room. It was too closed off for her liking, and “no one can see the beautiful screensavers – all they can see is the back of the monitors and all of the wiring”.
“No problem” I thought. “It’s just me looking at the stuff, and I really don’t care.”
“Trust me, dad”, she said. “If you don’t like what I do with it, you can put it all back.”
We spent most of her second day there, going to town. I was assigned the task of sorting out the bookcase. I have no idea why I still have a bookcase, actually, since I buy all of my books in e-book format, and have no need of physical books anymore. Right now the bookcase serves as a drop-off point for stuff that lacks a home. Receipts that I haven’t shredded, the odd flyer, pennies and pens that I pick up off of the floor.
My apartment isn’t nearly as bric-a-brac as I’m making it sound. It’s just that when I have something in my hand, and no time to figure out where it goes, the bookcase is my instant repository. I put stuff there, knowing that I’ll get around to sorting it someday.
“Someday” is right. When I started sorting, I found a lot of outdated stuff that belonged in the trash. Stuff I hadn’t seen in a couple of years actually. It was a little embarrassing, particularly since I’ve made it my life’s goal to de-clutter. The protocol is: if you don’t see or use it within a year, you don’t need it.
I had a lot of stuff there that qualified for the green bin. Still do, actually, since I didn’t make that much of a dent in it.
Daughter however did just fine with her tasks – which was pretty much everything else. She shoved everything around, made it all tidy, grabbed whatever twist ties she could to make the entertainment center and desk wiring all serene, if not beautiful. When she ran out of twist ties, I became the scotch tape caddy, doling it out as she needed.
When she was done, my place looked presentable again. The big chair was kitty-corned to the TV set, with the couch forming the other part of the scene. The TV itself was in a corner. And my office space was transformed such that any visitors could clearly see everything I was working on. I don’t plan to have many visitors.
“What do you think, Dad?”
I stood in front of my office desk, looked up at her and gave her a small wave and a smile.
She laughed out loud and went to grab her camera. So I had to hold that pose for a while. Such jocularity loses its pizzazz when you have to pose for it. I think we both knew that.
Our time together ended way too soon. I saw her off the next day, when she left me to go visit her mother for the other two days she would spend in Ontario. And now she’s off to western Canada, there to provide massage treatments for tired skiers.
I miss her already.