Going Home, Part One
Which is why sometimes when someone like me starts to write a long story there's cause to worry that there may not be a point and that nothing really will tie together and that I'm a terrible writer who has tricked you, webbed you into reading in search of redeeming value, and that I will be exposed for what I am which will be the beginning of the end of . . . something.
Aw, who cares.
But I'm telling you right now that there may not be a psycho-educational moral to this particular personal story (I can hear my friends gasp when I say that word, personal) .
On the other hand, maybe you'll glean something good anyway.
Friday F.D. and I packed up to visit my parents. That was unusual since we haven't stayed overnight in their home, my house, for over 25 years. Sure, we've visited them in that condo near the beach in Florida, their winter migratory home, but who needs to stay overnight at their place in Chicago when I've got my own bed just 5 miles away?
But we had a Bar Mitzvah, and the services were going to be in a hotel that was about 5 miles too many to walk. Since F.D. and I don't drive on the Sabbath, and since my parents, 81 and 86 live only a few blocks from the hotel, staying there would give mom an opportunity to feed us, a good thing from my point of view, if not a little selfish.
See, it's not like she needs this, feeding people. Even when she was much younger my father's friends would just happen to "stop by" right about the time my parents were sitting down to dinner. If I happened to be there, mom would shoot me a look that read
I need this?!?#@. Do I need this? Why me?
No expletives, she's very elegant, but sometimes she'd even say those things under her breath.
But these days it's harder for them to do a lot of the things they used to do in their sleep. Still, mom was insulted when I suggested that I cook something and bring it over. She had it in mind that she and my father would shop and prepare the meal together. They were excited to entertaining us I think.
So I dropped F.D. at the synagogue for Friday night services and headed to the house. Dad met me at the door and in the process of handing him my suit, the jacket slipped off the hanger and the plastic got all tangled.
I bent down to pick up the jacket and F.D.'s phone fell out of my purse.
My hands were full, so even though I saw the phone on the porch, I had to bring things into the house before I could reach to pick it up. I dropped a bag at the door, set down the flowers on the kitchen table, and this is where my memory completely fails. I had shuffled between the bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen, and. . .
The next thing I remember is the two of them are hustling to finish everything before candle-lighting. The table is set, Dad's scrutinizing the fish under the broiler Think it's done? Whaddaya think?
Yeah, it's done, looks great, I say, and Mom's setting lights, turning off the stove.
"The food will be cold by the time F.D. gets here," Mom says, although she doesn't call him F.D. Hardly anyone does.
"It'll be fine. We like it cold. Better cold than dried out."
One of the rules of keeping the Sabbath day is that you don't cook. The "day" starts the night before at candle lighting, about an hour before sunset, so we turn off the appliances at that time. The food's already cooked and covered to keep it warm, and it's great, surely the best meal of the week.
There are those of us who start thinking about Friday night dinner on Wednesday morning, actually. About 2-3 million of us in the world, give or take a few of my tribe begin menu planning and shopping mid-week.
I head back to the bedroom to set things up so that I can find what I need at bedtime in the dark. (We don't turn on lights either). I paused a minute to see if Mom had made any new changes to my bedroom. She'd added a little tray of bottled perfumes on the dresser, so I tried one, Fendi. Fantastic. Then I noticed that F.D.'s phone wasn't in the pocket of my purse. I went through all of my things. No phone.
I panick. He had handed it to me before he left the car and said, Make sure you bring it into the house. I thought I remembered him saying something about E.R. call.
Then I remembered I'd seen it on the porch while fumbling for my jacket. I checked the front porch. No phone.
"Mom, Dad, have either of you seen a cell phone around?" Immediately I'm thinking my father picked up the phone and has put it somewhere and probably has no idea where it is by now. Hey, that can happen at any age.
"No," he says.
"No," she says.
"I haven't seen a phone."
"You didn't see it on the porch when I dropped it fumbling with my suit?" I ask Dad.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"But I said," I say back to him, "Oh, blank, I dropped the phone and you said, I'll get it."
"I did not say that."
I totally believed him. But I have this thing. It's called search your brain and it always works. Well, it USUALLY works. Only I'd done that and visualized the phone on the porch and it wasn't there, so search your brain was not working, which through me way off. I went back outside and again, it wasn't there. It wasn't anywhere near the porch, not in the bushes on the right, not in the flowers to the left. Not on the mat where in my mind, I'd seen it. I went back inside. I looked through everything again. Purse, overnight bag, even the plastic suit bag from the cleaners.
"Are you sure, Dad, you didn't pick up that phone?"
"I'm sure! Why don't you look in the car? Doesn't it make sense to look in the car? You haven't looked in the car!"
"But I saw it on the porch. How would it get from the porch back to the car?"
"I don't know."
"I'm going to call the phone," I said. "Problem is, of course, it's on vibrate."
I'm thinking, if it's in his pocket, he'll feel it. Or maybe there's a chance one of us will hear it vibrating someplace. A slim chance.
I dug out my keys and thinking, this is silly, went back outside to look in the car.
No phone. About to give up, I looked in the street. There it was.
Honest, I have no idea how it got there. I went back inside, cheerfully announced, "I've got it! I found the phone!"
Dad looked at me and said, "See, I told you it was in the car."
"But it wasn't in the car, it was on the street," I said.
"But it wasn't in the house, and you weren't even looking BY the car. I told you to go outside."
I shake my head, smile, "You're right, of course."
That was the beginning.
You can go home again.
You can go home again.
You can go home again, you know.
Copyright 2007, therapydoc