Saturday, March 29, 2014

While waiting for the freezer repairman...

I'm spending Saturday morning in sort of a suspended animation, not feeling like starting a project I'll just be taken away from. My mother woke with nausea and a headache, so while waiting for the doorbell, I'm also tuned into her. She's up now, the effects of the pain pill and the anti-nausea meds allowing her to be up and puttering in her room. She's talking to herself under her breath. Desk drawers are opening and closing, the stash of pencils rolling around, plastic bags crinkling while I sit here at the end of the kitchen island satisfied with the New York Times and brief bits of contact with distant colleagues on Facebook.

Somewhere in the back of my head, in that space I imagine something like a drawer, I'm re-thinking the last lines of a story. And there's that in-progress cover letter to an agent and the corresponding   pop-up reminder in the top right hand corner of my screen snoozing and waking to remind me again that I must work on that while two voices in my head argue about whether or not just to open the file while I'm waiting for the repairman. The voice that says, no not now is winning.

My body is speaking, too. Get up. Get up and do some t'ai chi chih. Have another latte'. Carry those filthy rugs out to the garage.

In another brain drawer, I'm walking through a trip to the Emergency Room. Put some snacks and a water bottle and the last two New Yorkers in the go bag. 

The iceman cometh, I say when the doorbell rings. Pressed shirt. A beautiful silver earring. Eastern European accent. Or maybe Russian. He touches the top and the bottom of the freezer door like a doctor. Shines a flashlight into the icemaker's throat. Pats his tool belt. Puts on his glasses and consults his smart phone.

I sit and think about the New York times test I took just before he arrived. A test to assess how well I read other people's emotions. I sneak a peak at his face. How is he feeling about my freezer? Is that exasperation? I scored high on the test--31 out of 36. The average score is between 22 and 30. Two of my mistakes were misinterpreting desire for something else--annoyance and boredom. What the hell?If you're in a bad marriage, get out. The repairman scratches notes on that metal box/clipboard that seems to be the de rigueur accessory for repairmen, and then he tells me the price. I don't flinch. Let him guess how I'm feeling.

After I close the door behind him, I think more about my desire-blindness. I think about the man who loves me, sixty miles away. I imagine his irradiated body glowing, the cancer that might still be inside him shriveling out of boredom. I try to imagine his eyes, what they would look like filled with desire, wonder if he'll be annoyed that I emailed his family last night to say he's not doing well. The broken ice maker chucks another deposit of ice into the bottom of the freezer while my mother mutters and moans.


Ms. Moon said...

This is just fantastic writing. You are taking all of these difficult, almost impossible situations and you are making art of them.
I wish it didn't have to be so, though. I wish your fertile ground was sweeter, and less filled with all these rocks.
May things get better soon.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Denise. This makes me sad.