Because I want to tell you a story, I must be shamelessly honest. When he first walked through the door, I thought he was your average bro-dude who made poor decisions in college, who maybe drank all the sodas from the dispenser mixed together, on a regular basis, and not for a dare. At my work, he brings new sheets to the office every Tuesday, and changes the entry rug. And maybe it was the surly way he walks, or the way he says “nahw” instead of no. Maybe it was the time I saw his finger a little too far up his nose, and moments later, surreptitiously wiped across his chest. Whatever it was, initially, I formed an impression of him that I did not think was wrong.
(Spoiler alert: I end up very wrong).
It’s one of my favorite things — being surprised. Up there with stationary and Willa Cather. The first time it happened, I was sipping a Pu-erh from home while fidgeting with the schedule. A crash sounded outside the door. The hero of our story – we’ll call him Jim – sauntered in, a saran-wrapped pile of pillow cases hoisted on his shoulders, a disinterested expression settled low on his brows.
We exchanged the usual pleasantries. I offered him water, fortune cookies. He said, “Nahw, nahw.” But somehow, that day, there was a little give. That day, when I asked him if he was off afterwards, if he had plans, he randomly told me he had been having trouble sleeping at nights. Oh. After a pause. I mentioned a study I had read, about turning electronics off at least an hour before bed? He shook his head. “I like to end my nights watching t.v.” he said, uncompromisingly. I nodded, thinking Jersey Shore would keep me up too, even if I watched it weeks before bedtime. After a moment, he spoke up again. “I like ending my nights chillin’ to the Discovery Channel.”
Jim has been gold ever since. Part of the joy is that I persist in assuming what he’ll say, and he always surprises me. But this week, Jim epically topped the cake.
This week, speculating on summer finally being here, Jim told me how much he likes summer and dislikes winter. “Yes, vitamin D deficiency is no joke,” I agreed, “but I do like hot drinks in the winter.” Jim became serious. Lifting the last of the dirty laundry bags into his basket, he wavered at the desk pensively.
“Nahw, I like the hot drinks too.”
“Right! Hot chocolate? Cider? Eggnog from the carton!”
“Actually, I really like tea.”
I balked. And maybe the world stopped turning for a quarter-billionth of a second (I don’t know how science works). Stuttering, I asked him if he would like any of our assortment of teas before he left. He grimaced, in an effort of politeness, before turning me down quickly. “Oh, I actually prefer, like, loose leaf.” When he started to describe all the “straight up oolongs” he likes, I began rummaging through the drawers to see if there was a script he was reading from. Is this a joke? I squinted at the ceiling, to see if I could make out some semblance of a laughing Jesus. Lowering my head, I was struck with the realization that I’d be more upset with myself, if I wasn’t so delighted about the tea revelation.
Anyway, obviously as a moral tale, this is a story about book covers, and not judging them. Though, this illustrated translation of Henry James does solicit a little ridicule:
But apart from the mortification of falling into this classic trap, I share this story with you because Jim made me happy. Highlight of my day happy. He reminded me that, for all the mundane motions we go through, depth and unpredictability do exist in every living thing. He reminded me that, for all the movies, books, and the wealth of information I’ve gathered along with everyone else, there’s still something within everyone’s nature that no literary genius could ever put a finger on. And, isn’t that wonderful?
In other news of appreciation, happy 4th weekend! So many things to celebrate. Independence. Primary colors. Lucky number 4.
Magically, an old friend came to visit yesterday, to help me celebrate this weekend of fours. I haven’t seen her since college, and I was in heaven for every present second. I made us all summery things to eat, with herbs from the garden:
Mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, and laughter. Oh my!
—————————————————————————————————————-Last week, I promised to return to my weekly blogging on Thursdays and Fridays. As it turns out, yesterday was Friday and the day before it — yes. Do I dare set you up for disappointment next week? It’s a surprise.
In the meantime, hope this weekend is full of discovery and intrigue, without having to step five feet beyond your usual surroundings. Because, this is a holiday, friend. O say can you see?