Dearest Rachel –
So, last night, the girls came over – probably for the last time for the next month. Since I had fixed a meal last time (well, sort of; I’d heated up a bunch of stuff that I’d gotten from Costco and whatever), I suggested that once we were assembled at the house, we could head out to eat. Erin even recommended a few places for which she had found gift cards from her parents – and for which she wanted to prove that she’d actually used some of before they came to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hey, at least she’s using somebody else’s money rather than her own.
The first crack in the plan happened when I inquired of Daniel for his input as to where he might prefer. Rather than responding with a preference, he mentioned that Logan was over. Well, this was a surprise. Understand, I don’t object to having him over in the slightest – indeed, it had been quite some time, relatively speaking, since he had been over. It would just mean that going out would put a crimp in their anime watching, and I didn’t want to do that necessarily.
But then, when I got home, the phone rang. And for once, it wasn’t a telemarketer on the other end. No, it was Ellen. Apparently, she’d gotten a memo from the HR department where she worked informing her that someone (they couldn’t say who, due to HIPAA restrictions, but she thought she had a good idea as to who, since he hadn’t been at work for several days already) had tested positive for Covid, thus suggesting that everyone there had potentially been exposed to the virus. Granted, she’s felt no symptoms, so she doesn’t believe she’s actually caught anything, but she spelled out that the close quarters of the restaurant table might be less than ideal for us. She would bring something to the house to eat on her own, and recommended I just go pick something up for the boys and myself to eat once everyone was assembled. She’d also inform Erin of the situation, and recommend she take similar precautions.
This is why I feel like it’s pointless to make plans; the least little thing upsets them. At least the girls are willing to still come over. And of course, for all their worries about possible transmission to Daniel, in particular, due to his lack of medical protection, he is utterly unconcerned. He insists that he has the best protection of all, but that doesn’t work from a bureaucratic standpoint, which is why I can’t take him with me.
And with that being said, I filled the girls in on the specifics of my plan for next week and thereafter. Ellen, in particular, found it amusing when I related about our family tradition on cruises, where everyone in the family was assigned to do a presentation on one of the ports of call at dinner the night before we arrived. The organization involved in setting up those assignments – “Okay, you study this city, and you take that city…” – she found it astonishing. Well, after all, there were nine of us, so as a general rule, each of us would get one port. No big deal. The real joke, however, is that I’m doing all the ports on my own this time around, and I think she thinks I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. And if it weren’t for the fact that I could crib so much information from Wikipedia, I might agree with her. I still think I can manage, as long as I prepare those essays beforehand – which, I suppose, I should apologize about for now, as it means I’m only sending a single letter to you each day for the time being while I work on all of those for the future.
Imagine, here I am apologizing for sending you only a letter every single day.
At some point, the girls were chatting with each other as I was distracted by something the boys were watching, an anime called ‘Komi-san Can’t Communicate’. I’ve read about this series, but not seen it before. The title character is a beautiful girl, but she’s painfully – almost pathologically – shy, to the point that being required to speak fills her with such anxiety that she is compelled to flee. Like with Sakaki-san from Azumanga (who she resembles in many ways), her shyness is mistaken for cool aloofness, and she instantly becomes the class princess. Meanwhile, we have our Everyman protagonist who, after several incredibly awkward encounters with Komi-san – and ultimately winding up seated next to her on their first day of high school – divines her situation, and how to ‘talk’ with her by writing to each other on the chalkboard in silence. Well, not entirely in silence, as there is the squeak of the chalk, and the lovely piano music in the background – which even manages to get Erin’s attention at one point.
I won’t say that I’m hooked after one episode, but I should probably look for the manga, and get a couple volumes for my Kindle to occupy me during the flight next week, as it won’t require an internet connection (and I can’t necessarily count on one in the air).
While the girls are amused by my detailing my travel plans to them, what really sets Erin off is when I tell her about the fact that I need to go to the local appliance center to determine the new equipment I’ll need to have installed in the kitchen and laundry room when Detail comes in to do the renovation. As it happens, I need to take care of this real soon, as prices are about to go up dramatically, and Lisa, my designer, has suggested I move on this quickly and get everything ordered before then. So at this point, I’ve set aside Monday morning for Dad and I to meet her and pick everything out; hope that’s soon enough. But apparently, said appliance showroom has a reputation for its fancy layout; Erin was almost excited enough about it to want to come with to visit the place again. Yes, I said ‘again’; she’s been there before (although she wasn’t the one looking for anything), and absolutely fell in love with the place and everything in it. She was bouncing up and down in her seat about it like she’d just seen Ellen.
Of course, her work schedule precludes it; hence, ‘almost.’ Guess I’ll have to take pictures when I go, if it’s as cool a place as she describes it.
And now that I’ve mentioned Erin’s work schedule (and come to that, Ellen’s is a little more busy than usual, too; she’s having to go in to work tomorrow – on a Saturday – at seven in the morning!), we have to bring the night to a relatively early close. The girls gather up their stuff, and I walk with them to the door to say goodbye.
Only the goodbye winds up with more conversation between us than most of the rest of the night. Certainly much deeper discussion. Every so often, Erin proves herself the master (mistress?) of the armor-piercing question, as she asks me what I want to do with the rest of my life; what goals I have, and where I want to go next. It’s not the sort of question one normally asks as one is about to walk out the door, unless she meant to leave me with that thought rather than standing there trying to answer.
And I do struggle to answer her question, particularly with regard to finding fulfillment in what I do. She seems to find it strange that I never found it in my work – even now, as I do it for church and camp, who are so much more appreciative than my old place of employment. I see it as no more than filling a need with a skill that I have, to be honest, but fulfillment? I’m not entirely sure what that looks or feels like. As for any dreams I might have about the future, well, you know better than most that I never had much in the way of dreams, and I’m never been much of a goal-oriented person. Even the idea of the YouTube channel has gone by the boards, now that I realize I have so many fewer answers now than I thought I did a year or so ago.
And as I said earlier, I’ve noticed that planning doesn’t always (or even often) work out the way I’d like, so I’ve kind of cut down on that. Got to learn to settle for less, sometimes.
Finally, she asks what I plan to do should it turn out that there is no ‘Megumi’ out there for me. And I really don’t know at this point; you would think there would be plenty of time to find her, or someone like her, during the course of however many years I’m likely to have going forward. Maybe this trip will prove to me I can walk the earth without any such companionship, and that I can just make you and the rest of the internet my companions in lieu of an actual physical person by my side. It sounds like a lot less to settle for at the moment, but I have to discover what it’s like before dismissing it out of hand, I suppose.
All these questions are too much to address at this point in time – and that applies whether I’m thinking about my current situation in life, or just concerned with the fact that both the girls need to get home and rest – and I probably spent way too much time actually trying to answer her, when I should have said “let me get back to you on that,” and shooed them out the door. But she did ask the questions, and I owed it to her to give her what answer I could while we were both thinking about it. I give her credit, she makes me think about these things – when I would probably rather not – because I need to. It makes me sad that she can’t always be a part of my life, keeping me accountable like this.
But if all she wants is to be friends, I can settle for that. She and Ellen are wonderful friends – it’s why you picked them out in the first place – and I don’t want to spoil that. Best to maintain what is, rather than chase some ideal that can’t be, and destroy what is.
Until next time, keep an eye out for them, honey.