I can’t stop thinking about a recent serendipity. At a red light I turned to the car on my left and made eye contact with a young boy in a car seat, maybe 6 years old. Without thought, I smiled and waved at him. He broke into a big grin and waved back. It was awesome. A few stop lights later it happened again, both of our faces lit up at the unexpected display of friendly acknowledgment.
Why does this memory endure?
Why was the event so pleasurable?
I want to live in a world where I feel safe and other people feel safe, where people feel welcomed and wanted, where cheerfulness flies from one face to the next, a gift received and returned as fast as a game of tennis. I want to contribute to that outcome. I am grateful this human was receptive to me and allowed his joy to show. Such a small moment and yet it has fed my spirit for days.
Reoccurring problem. My husband sees an empty space and fills it. For him, domestic space is like a supermarket parking lot. If you don’t see a car there, feel free to drive into the spot. To me, our domestic space is a like an apartment building with leased parking spaces. Only one item has legitimate claim to any given area. You cannot be where you don’t belong, or you will be towed away at your own expense.
At the end of our hallway is large desk size built in shelf. This space has been doing triple duty for more than two and half years. One third is where I store my two purses, next to that is overflow food storage, and next to that are hard drives. Don’t worry, the sugar does not comingle with the technology. They are separated by bins and baskets. As I write it out, this arrangement sounds strange. I wish it were differernt but who has the time and space to make things not weird.
So yesterday, both purses are lolling around in chairs making it hard to sit down. Tidying up, I gather them, walk them over to the purse basket and find a five-pound bag of whole wheat flour sitting in their spot! UGH! I am instantly annoyed. My kid wanders by, and I ask in a rather surly tone,
Did you put this here?!
Just as I suspected, it’s dad! I am going to teach him a lesson.
My kid looks at me skeptically. Maybe even disapprovingly. I probably should heed the message in their body language, but the rush of frustration is already in full gallop, and I march the big bag of flour to his desk and deposit it in his chair. Now he will know what it is like to find a place you intend to use blocked by a ridiculous culinary obstacle.
I bide my time, waiting for him to need his computer. I am waiting for some type of outburst. Disappointed, nothing happens.
I check his chair and the flour is gone. It’s back on the shelf next to the purses where it belongs. I retrieve it and march it back to him.
Did you notice this on your chair? I demand.
I was wondering how that got there, he says totally nonchalant. It’s like it doesn’t matter one way or another. What’s so mysterious about a five-pound bag of flour showing up in your office? It doesn’t faze him. In his world, bags of flour being accidently deposited on office chairs is just a thing that can happen that needs no explanation, that jumpstarts no line of questioning, it forces no interrogation of fellow family members. This man cannot be taught a lesson!
I attempt to explain the outlandish violation and he says he has no idea that my purses go in a purse basket. He says he thought the whole thing was grocery storage.
Well, here’s what. What I think of as our systems are really only my systems. He says now he knows and will not do it again.
That should make me happy, and it’s probably true as who wouldn’t want to avoid another run in with me in this state. But I am not satisfied. I wanted to make him be like me and he is not like me.
He is not like me.
This is a good thing. He doesn’t explode out of the blue. He doesn’t need organizational integrity to be ok. And it’s okay that I do create systems. I just need to understand that I am the person responsible for their maintenance. I am best suited for that, and he is best suited for not being a critical jerk.
I am the one who keeps not learning the lesson. I need to learn the lesson.
My husband has informed me that he never wants to hear a certain line of questioning ever again. He told me this as part of a post panic debriefing due to my misplacement of some important and expensive items. While I was manically looking in places I knew the items would never be, he stayed calm and assured me I would find them, they weren’t stolen and they were sure to turn up. He offered suggestions that proved useful. When I told him, I needed him to stop talking he stopped.
Now that the items have been found, partly due to his help, he is wondering if he has enough martial capital to request I stop saying the following aloud:
Why did you let that soapy glass slip from your fingers into the sink basin and shatter inconveniently all over the place? Were you unable to think of a better alternative? Do you need verbal harassment to stop this mundane and accidental outcome from occurring in the future?