It’s Never ‘Just Lunch’

Dearest Rachel –

I really kind of expected it to be a shorter day, in terms of being out of the house, than most, since all I had planned for the day was to meet Lars for lunch in his neighborhood. Granted, the trip to his neighborhood required budgeting the better part of an hour to get there (yes, Google said it would take only 37 minutes, but I knew better – and I was more right than I knew; between construction and uncooperative red lights, I was actually late despite my best plans), but still… it turned out to be a day of what the guys working on the house might refer to as ‘feature creep.’

Let’s start with the amusing fact that, when I actually did arrive, Lars was standing outside the restaurant, with an apologetic look. It so happened that the place was currently only open for carry out business as opposed to dine in. He admitted that there were times that, when he and his brother would eat there, ordering additional plates felt somewhat like they were interrupting the restauranteurs’ ‘flow,’ as they busily completed carry out order after carry out order. He suggested a nearby Vietnamese place – and I was a little nervous about it, not being familiar with the cuisine – but when he described it as being ‘ten minutes away,’ I knew I was likely to get lost. Not to mention, finding parking in his area is rather a nightmare in comparison to home. Not sure why that is; it’s not like our village hasn’t existed since before cars were a thing any more than his neighborhood.

Fortunately, there was a Greek place across the street, one that we’d been to as an entire family back in the day (and I’ve been to with him maybe about a year ago), so he was willing to accede to that option. If nothing else, he’s a regular enough customer of the place to know the owner, and a few secret menu items on offer. Pity you never got to try the garlic sautéed octopus (and no, I never did catch the name of the dish, and even if I had, I wouldn’t be able to remember it, let alone spell it correctly). On the other hand, Daniel at least would not feel like he missed out on anything.

Talking with Lars is always quite the experience; he has this vast and curious intellect that can be sometimes difficult to keep up with. Part of that, no doubt, comes from being in the medical profession – although that may be a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, insofar as he may well have gotten into the profession by dint of intellectual curiosity as much as being of the profession spurs it. Or maybe it’s a case of a positive feedback loop between the two. Not that everything has to do with medicine, either; he went into some great detail about the similarities between Hebrew, Arabic, and the Aramaic language that was the lingua franca (if you will) of the Levant during the Roman era.

There was some discussion of politics, but we aren’t on the same level. Not that we disagree, necessarily, but that we focus on different things. What news Lars tends to read and listen to comes from international sources, meaning that national political issues aren’t touched on as deeply; they’re a bit more local and parochial for his sources to give more that superficial attention to. And that’s fine – the news cycle is so deep and vast these days that it’s like trying to drink out of a firehose. You have to pick and choose what to pay attention to. And no matter what happens, you wind up with a limited perspective as to what’s going on. He wound up filling me in on the diplomatic geopolitics of the situation in Ukraine, while I gave a briefing to him on the leaks in the Dobbs case that just came down last night which has mobs in an uproar on the steps of the Supreme Court.

As a result, there is no such thing as a ‘lunch hour’ with Lars. We were eating and conversing for well over two hours – and not a drink in sight, apart from iced tea. Both of us agree that we need to do this more often, but can’t decide where or win just yet. As we said on our separate ways out, we’ll need to play it by ear.

But since I was so far afield from my typical stomping grounds, I had decided that I would need to make a few more stops to make the trip worthwhile. So really, it’s never ‘just lunch’ when I meet with Lars – although he’s not aware of this (nor does he have to be) – it’s the start of a series of errands, with the occasional misadventure thrown in to make it interesting.

I mention misadventures because as I began to wend my way back, an idiot light flashed on the dashboard; one or more of my tires needed attention regarding air pressure. Well, there’s a place to go to for that, but it would require passing home, and I had a few stops to make beforehand. It would have to wait, and I would have to hope that it wasn’t something serious that needed attention right away.

After all, things need to be done in geographic order, more or less. I mean, somethings need to be done before others (and you’ll see what I mean in a moment), but for the most part, it’s best to stop at each place along the drive, rather than going back and forth past a certain point multiple times, wasting both time and gas.

The first stop add to do with getting some thing for Mother’s Day. You’ll recall how we used to just get a gift card from a certain floral and garden shop More recently, we’d been tasked to just pick out specific flowers for Mom to plant rather than making her do the shopping; you’d even come with me on the last few years before the accident to help both pick things out and load them in the car. I probably could’ve used your help this time around; this year I haven’t been given nearly as detailed a suggestion as before, only to look for something (or several something’s) in a ‘large planter.’ Once I got them outside, the wind kept blowing over the plants I’d picked out, and I could barely wedge them into the trunk; this was made that much more complicated by the fact that I had yet to get the soccer balls out from last Tuesday. Believe it or not, I did manage to get everything in without causing too much damage, but it was a struggle.

That accomplished, I wasn’t going to leave them in my trunk any longer than they had to be. So I delivered them straight to Mom from there; it’s not as if I could’ve handed them over at the restaurant on Sunday, anyway. While this was geographically in line with my route, this is what I meant earlier about a stop that would have to come after my visit to the floral place, since I couldn’t have stopped at their place beforehand – can’t deliver what I don’t have, right?

But it’s at this point that I went past our house, to the quick repair place, to get my tires topped off. Honestly, I would’ve wanted to get that taken care of sooner, because I hate having an idiot light on, but hey… distance and all that.

From there, I looped back and picked up some groceries, and (after consultation with Daniel), a sandwich and a smoothie for him. What, did you think I’d be getting dinner for myself after a two-and-a-half-hour lunch?

Still, after half a dozen additional stops after leaving the restaurant, I actually didn’t get home until half-past five. That’s later by far than most days I’m at the ‘office.’ And this is what I came home to:

They’d not only ripped out the old floor from the kitchen in the front hall, but had lined it with new wood.

It might be hard to see from the picture, but you might notice that the pantry (to the left) and the sunroom (to the right) are about an inch higher than this new floor. It’s a bit disconcerting to walk from one room to the other and either stumble from forgetting to go up, or fall that extra inch, depending on the direction you’re going. You might think that a drop of an inch doesn’t sound like much, but consider that the difference is less than that between, say, the toilet seat being up or down – and you remember (hopefully not as often as some wives) what a shock that drop could be.

That’s what we’re dealing with at this point. Now, I’m told that they’ll add a layer or two to even everything out, but for the moment, it takes some getting used to.

So, that was the day for me, and a busy one it was, even if it didn’t involve the kind of work I’d normally put in of a day. Hopefully, thing will be calmer when I get back to the ‘office.’

Until then, honey, take care, and keep an eye out for me. Talk to you later.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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