I spent the last few days away from work, an early October break. Here is how it went:
I confided in a friend that I was secretly going to seek a position with the U.S. Post Office and that way, I could A.) leave my current position B.) focus on my writing life C.) still manage to make the house payment D.) have benefits. That idea came burning down like a house of straw on fire as she confided in me that her boyfriend had read the works of a famous poet who had once been a part of the USPS. Apparently he had referred to it as a “life sucking, trauma inducing, soulless place” or something like that.
I rented a car to drive up two hours north of San Jose and visit my mom. After all the paperwork, I was ushered upstairs to get the car. I walked out of the elevator, handed over the papers from downstairs and was told, “you pick. Either the black one or silver one. Keys are inside. Someone will help you on your way out. The exit is that way.” Friendly. Real friendly. I gazed at the two cars and chose the black Ford Fusion. I got inside, grabbed the keys and…there was no key. I looked around the steering wheel and saw it: a black button that said Push to Start. I did, the car then told me to step on the brake, I did and all the lights came on. I didn’t hear an engine, but the blinking light indicated the car was ready. Great. I tried to turn on the radio. And could not figure it out. All those damn buttons and knobs. I turned up the volume loud, nothing, I adjusted the Tune knob, nothing. This car was too complicated for me. I finally figured out how get the spaceship into Drive and began exiting the parking garage. On the way out, I asked the attendant how to get the radio to work. She didn’t answer me and instead requested to see my driver’s license. Then just before sending me away, she mumbled, annoyed, “push the power button.”
I went to visit my very sick and elderly uncle with my mom. It was early in the morning and as we walked into his hospital room, his eyes looked me over. I saw it. He didn’t know who I was until my mom yelled out, “Look who came to visit you! Lorena!” Even then I am not sure that he fully understood I was the girl that he had teased so often. I hung back, watching the way my mom cut up his french toast in little pieces and prepared his coffee then fed him. I wondered if I would ever be able to do the same for my older brother. I watched my uncle take little sips of coffee from the mug held by my mom. I saw how little he ate. I decided to have a talk with my older brother just to make sure he was watching his health.
I saw Old Faithful for the first time. As we walked into the park, Pete, my mom and I saw the geyser blowing. Jets of water squirted into the October sky. Vapor came off it to show that this was HOT water. We stood watching it for a good two minutes before it just sputtered off and went silent. We fed the smelly goats, lounged in practically all the cabanas, swings and patio chairs there were and read everything in the geology museum. We gazed at the water when it came squirting out and I decided that I had let too much life pass me by.
I took a long afternoon nap on my mother’s couch. I hadn’t even realized how it had snuck up on me, but it happened. The TV was talking softly in the background, my older brother was playing with his dog and the air carried that perfect warmth that just murmurs, “close your eyes, close your eyes, close your eyes.” So I did.
I made my own breakfast and then checked the mail. Only four items in the mailbox. One I could already see was some invitation to refinance the house. I sighed and ripped it then tossed it into the recycle bin, refinance THAT. The next one was an update about my retirement funds. Woo-hoo, let’s see how that’s going! I couldn’t make sense of the summary. I tried turning the paper upside down, thinking it would help, but it looked the same. Anyway, I figured it probably was saying I did not have enough to retire. On to envelope number three: an offer for a credit line. I held it for a moment, then tossed it in the recycle bin too. The last item left was a postcard sized invitation. A workshop on Saturday from 9 – 11am and I would walk away with: knowledge about how to apply online, job descriptions to make sure this was the place for me, and job opportunities. I clipped it to my fridge magnets, it had to be a sign. The invitation came from the USPS.