Life in Escrow

“Do you have any brothers and sisters?”
“Well, I have a big sister, a little brother, and we have a baby in escrow.”
“In escrow?”
“That’s how daddy describes it when it seems like it’s never going to come out.”

Art Linkletter and a candid guest, as taken from Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Dearest Rachel –

Sometimes, things seem like they’re going to take forever, even when you know, intellectually, that they have an end point. It’s just that, the period of time that you have to endure while waiting just seems inordinately long. I suppose that, to a little kid, the time taken for a pregnancy probably would seem like forever; when you’re five years old, nine months amounts to 15% of your life, after all. But we have comparison, fifteen percent of my life would be more than eight years.

Yeah, that’s a long time to be waiting for something – for anything. For one thing, I certainly hope that ‘Megumi’ shows up sooner than that.

To be sure, the events of yesterday afternoon didn’t take nearly that long – after all, it was only an afternoon’s events – but it did seem to take inordinately long compared to what I had been expecting.

Indeed, I’d deliberately taken the afternoon off in order to show up at the convention center before people really started to gather. You remember the ridiculous lines that we had to wait through back in the days before the badges were mailed to us on a regular basis – and wasn’t it a great improvement when they started that? – but those were in the days when I would get home from work, and we’d drive over there, park some distance away (because everywhere in Rosemont cost something in terms of double digits to park – even now, when that kind of money hardly matters, it still sticks in my craw), and walk half a mile there in order to line up to buy our badges. Of course, by then, the sun at all but gone down, and everyone and their panda companion had showed up. By the time we finally got what we came for and drove home, it would be pitch dark outside if it weren’t for all the city lights flooding the area 24/7.

To be sure, I couldn’t leave quite as soon as I’d wanted to, as by the time I got home, Logan still hadn’t shown up. I had come to the conclusion that the boys would need to come with me in order to exchange the badges for some in their names. To pass the time, I grabbed one of my Jerry cans, and walked down to the gas station on the corner; there are some things that you can only wait so long for, and our lawn has gotten thick enough that I can’t wait for the landscapers anymore. I worry that one of those inspectors, when they came by, noticed the fact that most of the grass out front is showing heads of grain, and considered talking to one of his buddies at village hall about citing us for that violation, despite all the traffic in and around the lawn.

Even when I got back to the house, Daniel was still on his own – I won’t say alone, because the entire construction team was milling about, doing their thing. Mostly hanging insulation, in preparation for today’s inspection. So, I offered him something to eat, and he readily accepted – which I took as a good sign that he’s recovering. I was halfway through the air fryer cycle when Logan showed up. And now, we couldn’t go, since I was still waiting for the taquitos to bake, and Daniel to eat them.

I don’t think we got out of the house until at least 2:30. The drive took longer than I remembered, as well – to say nothing of the search for parking, which eventually I gave up on and used the municipal garage. Turns out, that was a good thing; when we arrived at the exhibit hall, and wended our way through rows of aluminum fence set up for later crowd control to get to an occupied booth (almost none of them were manned, which probably should have been a tip-off), we were told that registration didn’t open until 4:00. When I observed that I thought they were open at 10:00, one of the folks behind the booth seemed to smile (I can’t tell with these masks on), and acknowledged that this would be the case throughout the convention, but since it hadn’t started yet, today had a different schedule. Fair enough.

At least the weight would theoretically only be half an hour from then. So, we sat around in the foyer of the convention center for half an hour until a staffer came out of the exhibit hall, and in as loud a voice as they could muster, told that the lines for registration were supposed to be outside – at least, for cash and credit purchases. At this point, I was grateful for having barged through inadvertently – we had been told at the booth that, given our situation, we would need to show up at the service desk instead. So I asked the staff for about that situation, and she allowed us to stay inside, along with those who would also received badges in the mail (and those who had gotten confirmation in the mail but no badges yet, poor kids) who were just here to get their lanyards and other convention guide related swag.

With all that separation being made between cash purchases, credit purchases, and special cases like ours, we still weren’t allowed into the exhibit hall until after 4:30. I don’t know what the holdup was. Even once we got in, the two fellows in front of us (and I don’t know where they came from; we were literally at the front of the service desk line) were discussing their situation for the better part of ten minutes without resolution. Ultimately, it turned out that they were trying to obtain a Saturday pass, at which point they were told that those passes wouldn’t be available until Friday evening, so they would need to come back then.

Our situation wasn’t resolved particularly quickly either. To be sure, the circumstances are rather unusual. The girl at the booth pointed out that the badges were non-transferable, and the duplicate for mine could be rolled over to next year, if I should so choose. Then it clicked with her about yours: “did you say your late wife?” Yeah, I played that card, honey. Sorry about that. But, it got results. She spoke with her manager, and in a one-time exception (well, of course this is only going to happen one time), I was allowed to hand over the badges that had effectively been carried over from 2020, along with Daniel’s and Logan’s IDs, and they would change the names.

It had taken the better part of three hours from the time we left the house to the time we left with the badges. It’s probably the hectic pace of modern life, but I really hadn’t expected to be standing around waiting for this so long; I really had hoped it would be zip-zap, and we would be done.

After all, we still had some shopping to do at Mitsuwa in preparation for today’s get-together. And while the freezer case in front of the store was well-stocked with goods (including heat-and-eat okonomiyaki and takoyaki – you would have been pleased to see it), such stuff is useless for a weekend stay at a hotel. And the drier goods – cracker snacks, candies and the like – were, not surprisingly picked over. We assembled what little we could, grabbed a soft drink from the fridge as we used to do, and headed to the food court.

And once again, we found ourselves waiting in an interminable line. Daniel’s favorite place was already closed, much to his disappointment – they always did tend to underestimate how much food they would need, or the number of customers they would get in a given day – so he settled on the curry place we tended to favor. He gave me his order, and left me to stand in line to place them both (Logan was still shopping, and would get his own meal, it would seem).

But for whatever reason, the guy at the counter was talking with the clerk for an extended length of time, without appearing to place an order. Couldn’t he just do that, and stand aside for the rest of us in line to do likewise? A foursome of schoolgirls ahead of me even left the line, having grown tired of waiting. Eventually, though, he was handed his order in a bag, whereupon he paid for it, tipped his cap and left. It was then that I realized that the place was an Uber Eats participant; this was probably a driver arriving too soon for the order to be ready, and he had to stand around and wait every bit as much as we did.

That’s just the way life is: things just take longer than you’d like them to, and when you can’t get them when you expect them to be ready, it feels like it takes forever.

Like it’s in escrow.

I know I’m not the only one dealing with these sorts of things – I got a call from Andrea last night before I could go out to mow at least the front lawn before the inspector arrives. It seems that her mom going back to the U.K. to be with her sister for their final years; apparently she wants her daughter to be free and independent to pursue her own career and love life. But first, she has to make sure that her mother is secure in her new home in England, as well as having to sort something out with regard to a family legacy on her father’s side in Poland. They’re going with a family friend who happens to be a retired lawyer, who might be of assistance in sorting out the situation, but anything involving the legal system is going to take forever in its own right; escrow is a legal term, after all.

But Logan has arrived this morning, and we need to head out, so I don’t have the time to go into all of those details right now. Maybe at some point, when things are moving more slowly, I can catch you up on all the things that are going on and taking up so much more time than expected.

Until then, I’ll be trying to fill you in on this, a very different convention experience. Keep an eye out for us, honey, and remember that I love you.

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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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