Random Thoughts: Decompression Chambers

I go to an alumni event, with lots of people my high school – older men mostly, as the school was for much of its history an all-boys school. One of the men is divorced, and another – happily married – is talking to him about it … and suggests that he and I might make a nice pair.

I recoil, rather awkwardly, at the suggestion. Nothing personal, I say.

I have the same feeling when I see the match.com emails – I no longer subscribe, but the emails still show up daily, with the same guys in them that I winked at a year ago. I try to visualize myself meeting someone – someone who actually manages to show up and is employed all at the same time – and even if I pretend this is possible, which I know isn’t likely, I have trouble mentally fitting that someone into my life.

It’s not that there’s no room.

No, that’s exactly it.

There should be enough room, but whenever I open the door for someone and say, hey, come on in and let’s share our space, somehow it’s only my space that ends up being shared, and shared, and shared, until there’s no room left for me at all.

I become very small, and compress myself to fit whatever space is left.

My life is some finite quantity. I want to fill the rest of it myself.

I’m just not sure what I want to fill it with.

As long as I can remember, my life has been filled with wanting. I wanted to be married. I wanted a family. I wanted a child. My life has never been filled with me.

What We See Around Us

I walk through IKEA with The Child. We follow the arrows through the store, and pass through the baby nursery department. I walk a bit faster and focus my eyes forward, at the arrows on the floor, and then it’s over, quickly enough, and I forget about it, mostly.

I still knit, and my knitting is improving, and when I look for project ideas, I run across patterns for baby things. I turn the pages quickly, and remind myself it’s better for a beginner to work with thicker yarn, and bigger needles.

There are other moments like those – the TV show with the new baby storyline  – but I can change the channel. Scroll past the pictures on Facebook.

Once in a while, though, I walk past a couple: He is tender with her – gentle, affectionate. Or perhaps it is a couple with a young child, and they are both tending the child, the father visibly as in love with the youngster as the mother.

Those are the moments I shut my eyes, and wish I could be anywhere but where I am.

Metaphor For A Marriage: Kitchen Knives

When The Departed left, my father was visiting, so he extended his visit for a bit to help deal with things – lock-changing and lawyer-finding, but also making sure The Child and I ate properly.

He cooked a lot.

He started grumbling. Your knives are all dull, he said. How do you do anything with dull knives?

I realized he was right, and in fact I had complained about this from time to time.

The Departed got me a chef’s knife for my birthday one year, and an identical knife in a slightly smaller size for Christmas.

Problem solved.

Except all the other knives taking up room on the magnetic strip were no sharper, and the new chef’s knives rapidly grew dull from near-constant use.

You need to sharpen your knives, said my father.

Oh, I said. I think they do that at the hardware store. I saw a sign there.

You can do it yourself, he told me. Didn’t The Departed ever sharpen your knives for you?

That’s a husband’s job, he said.

I’ve had two husbands and never saw either sharpen a knife, I told him.

He got a little annoyed and searched the kitchen. Finding no sharpening block, he bought one the next day and showed me how to use it.

Seems simple enough, I said.

A few days later, my father was boxing up what The Departed’s called his “shop,” a stall of the garage that largely unusable for anything other than what it was used for: A garbage collection area on top of a tool graveyard. Among the debris, he found a sharpening stone.

He brought it inside, furious. Of course he had one. Of course he never used it. Of course it could not even have been found if you actually went to look for it. It was buried in among piles of screws and drills that don’t work.

He vented a bit more, then returned to the task in the garage.

I mention all of this, because I was reminded of it when I recently made my Candied Orange Peel. My paring knife had become a bit dull, so I went looking for a sharpening stone.

In the back of a recently-purged kitchen drawer, I found a red gadget marked with the name of a knife company. I inspected it closely, and it would appear to be – yes, a knife sharpener. It worked great.

The problem: A house full of dull knives, yet containing two sharpeners.

The solution? Buy more knives.