I cried this morning. I was thinking about Quantum Wave Function and the Indeterminacy Principle. I know where I am, but I have no idea where I’m going. Or I know where I’m going, but haven’t the foggiest idea of who I am. For now, just call me Ishmael.
I was thinking about a timeline where I live multiple lives. And, I was thinking about my father. Today is his birthday.
I wondered in which life we’re both alive. Imagined the talks we have. About movies and life. The conversations he’d have with Bill. About the ocean and boats. About how Bill can fix things. With tools. My dad, in most lives I imagine, cannot.
Maybe there’s a life where we are sitting by a pool. Somewhere tropical. Hawaii. My father loved Hawaii. I love Hawaii. Bill loves Hawaii too.
When I met Bill, I didn’t recognize the grains of sand between him and my dad. Only after we were deep in the nooks and crannies of our marriage did I see just how much they have in common.
“What’s with all the clutter,” Bill says. It’s Sunday. We’ve just come back from Whole Foods. He has knocked a stainless steel coffee cup off the counter. It crash-landed on the floor after taking out a glass which bumped the dish soap and both tumbled into the sink with a thud-clunk.
There are too many things on the counter. The coffee grinder. The coffee maker. The canister of coffee beans. The Grey Poupon jar filled with pens. Hand soap. Lotion. Paper towels. A lemon. A Magic Bullet. A Palm Springs pink lipgloss. A roll-on sage CBD stick. Not much room to unpack the groceries.
And then it’s 1978 and I’m 15. My mom and dad are putting the groceries away after a trip to Gelson’s. My dad is standing in front of the open freezer shaking his head. It’s summer and the sun is bright in the kitchen. He’s in his summer uniform (when he’s not by the pool), white shorts, and a blue Izod. He’s barefoot and brown. Even the tops of his feet are tan. A red Flair pen i
s on the counter next to 12 mini cans of Kern’s Strawberry Nectar juice. He’s trying to find room in the crammed freezer. He likes to freeze the juice, take the tops off, eat the frozen yumminess with a spoon. He called them scrapies because that’s the sound the spoon makes, scrape, scrape, scrape, along the ice when he eats them.
“Barbara,” he says. He pulls a frozen lump wrapped in white butcher paper from the freezer and holds it above his head. The word GIBLETS is written on it in black Sharpie. “What’s with all these giblets?”
Then they have the discussion about organization and the freezer and chicken necks and there’s no room for anything and really are five packages of frozen giblets necessary and is there any time soon that you’re making gravy for an army, Barbara?
My mom, to my knowledge, has never made gravy. Ever.
“We have to organize this kitchen,” Bill says and he picks up the coffee cup and puts it back on the counter. I laugh a little laugh.
“What?” Bill says.
“Nothing,” I say. “Let’s organize the kitchen.”
He takes the unbroken glass from the sink and puts it in the dishwasher. He’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Even the top of his feet are tan. And I smile at the grains of sand.