The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Due to the sudden onset of bronchitis in the super lungs of SuperWife (I suspect one of her arch enemies snuck some Kryptonite into a pile of shop drawings on her desk early this week, or something), this week’s Flashback Friday is brought to you by the letter H (for Highlander). That’s me. Now, let’s set the Wayback Machine for several years agone:

I was in Florida, working at a call center some few of you may remember me describing in hellish detail on previous incarnations of my blog. I was living in a tiny cinderblock shack divided down the middle into two tinier duplexes; I’d weathered the Autumn of Four Hurricanes, barely dodging when God threw the entire roof a nearby bar at me while I was sitting on my couch watching the storm reports on TV. (The duplex, my neighbor and I all survived; our power lines did not. But that’s another story.)

Life had been tolerable since moving out of my younger brother’s very small apartment as a concatenation of stressful developments there had made it necessary for me to get the fuck out or, y’know, just go insane. I’d gotten off the floor at the call center and onto the email team, a much coveted assignment, and gotten a schedule worked out where I went in for 10 hour shifts 1 pm to midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays, and had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off every week. Things were as good as they were going to get in that place and time. I had absolutely no real friends living within 800 miles of me and rarely saw any of the family members who lived much closer, and nearly the entirety of my human contact outside work came through fiber optic cables, either online or over the phone. You cannot truly be happy without sharing your existence in real time with people who give a fuck about you, but you can be content (if you like yourself, and I did and mostly do) and I was indeed content.

Mostly because my primary human contact at that time was a wonderful woman in River City I’d met on the Internet. We’d started out emailing and that had evolved into nightly phone calls by that time; I’d call her every night when I got home from my shift, waking her up, but she was always happy to hear my voice. She’d seen me through losing a job in Tampa and moving in with my brother, and successive emotional stresses and traumas there, and I’d seen her through the deterioration and eventual dissolution of her marriage. At a time when she felt pretty much no appreciation for all the many, many wonderful contributions she made to everyone else in her life from any of them, she turned the high pressure fire hose of her innate generosity on me, deluging me [editor’s note: ‘deluge’ is most certainly an exaggeration] in enormously thoughtful gift packages, which, along with boxes of HeroClix from good buddy Mike Norton, were nearly all that got me through that extremely trying time in my life.

My life in Florida had pretty much exploded on me at the point I’m about to describe; things had been going south at work for several months by then, and when various crises at work finally collided in a cataclysmic blow up and I realized I simply could not continue working in that call center, having exhausted every other recourse I had, I called my wonderful woman friend on the phone and asked if she could help me.

We had, at that point, been talking about me visiting her in River City with an eye towards maybe moving up there if I liked the place, and seemed to get along well with her three daughters. Suddenly that plan was set aside; I needed to get out of that call center ASAP, and that meant I needed to get out of the rotten little small town I was living in, because the call center was by far the most tolerable place to work there, and if I was getting out of that rotten small town, well, I might as well (if I could swing it) get out of the hell on Earth that is Florida at the same time.

My wonderful woman friend, whom we now all know as SuperWife, said yes, of course she could help me. And she did. I quit my job and packed my stuff, and a few weeks later, as the last of my funds were trickling out of the severed arteries of my decapitated checking account, she showed up with a rented truck to rescue me.

And this isn’t about that, it’s about something that happened that night, the last night I would spend in Florida. SuperT, your Oral Reporter, showed up fairly early in the afternoon, we spent several hours getting all my crap (and it’s an impressive amount of crap, much of which is to this day still packed downstairs in the storage room) shoved into the back of the truck, and then, after a little rest in the cool of the AC watching and listening to absolutely nothing (because everything was packed), once the sun went down, I asked my friend to come on a walk with me so I could show her around the neighborhood I was hopefully never coming back to.

We crossed Main Street and headed up a block and a half to one of that small town’s ubiquitous alleys, a labyrinth of which comprised one of its only charming features. I took her up that alley, running behind the back yards of houses on either side that faced the alley’s bordering, parallel paved streets, pointing out various things of interest (assuming you’re interested in dumb little small town features that can be seen just after dusk from a back alley, anyway) and we finally wound up coming out in the parking lot of a buffet restaurant several blocks up Main Street. I led SuperT over to it, still gabbing a mile a minute to distract her from what I was doing, then held the door open for her.

“What are we doing?” she asked, looking somewhat befuddled (SuperT looks adorable when befuddled, but, then, she looks adorable the rest of the time, too).

“This is that buffet restaurant I told you about a few times,” I said. I’d mentioned it to her in emails and our nightly phone calls; it was one of the places I enjoyed eating at most during my time in that wretched, miserable small town. “I thought I’d take you to dinner.” I smiled. “I really wanted you to see it before we left forever.”

And she cried. Not sad tears, but happy ones, which was my first real experience with that. I’d read about people crying from happiness, but had never seen it before. SuperT, as it turned out, did it whenever she was really happy.

I’ve always remembered that night; it was the first time I’d ever made SuperT so happy she cried.

The second time I can remember doing so was months later. I’d moved to River City. I was living in a tiny studio apartment SuperT had secured for me in a wonderful section of the city, although that’s really not quite true; my stuff was over there, and I did spend many nights over there, but I probably spent more time in the small, cramped apartment SuperT shared half the time with her three daughters. This was during one of the two week periods when the girls were over at their bio-dad’s. I imagine it must have been a weekend, as SuperT and I were both there in the day. It was around lunch time, and SuperT was out in the kitchen making sandwiches for us while I leaned against the wall and kept her company. Her phone rang and she went into the living room to get on the cordless, where she sat down to chat with whomever it was… her mother, I think.

She’d finished making my sandwich but hadn’t started in with hers yet. I wanted to eat, but both instinct and upbringing do not allow me to eat in front of other people without at least offering them something as well, so without giving it much thought, I slapped together a turkey sandwich for her, put it on a plate with some chips and a pickle, and carried it in to where she was sitting in a chair, bringing mine along.

She gave me an utterly astonished look, as if she just couldn’t believe what she was seeing, then got off the phone with her mother. She put her hand on my shoulder and drew me down and kissed me very tenderly, and I realized when she finished that she had tears running down her cheeks.

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.

“No,” she said, looking down at the sandwich, then back up at me with that same wondering look. “But nobody has ever made me a sandwich before. Nobody has ever… ever… been that… thoughtf…”

She had to stop there as she choked on a little sob, and then took a bite out of her sandwich.

Now it was my turn to be astonished. I had no doubt, and have none at this point, either, that SuperT had created thousands of sandwiches in her time for other people – parents, friends, her kids, her ex husband. Certainly she’d made a few for me by that time, and has made hundreds more since then. And in all that time, nobody had ever made her a sandwich?

I couldn’t doubt it. The evidence was trickling down her face.

So I’ve always remembered those two occasions, when I made my future wife cry tears of joy, by doing nothing much that seemed particularly out of the ordinary to me. But those minor, trivial little gestures on my part meant an enormous amount to her, so the memories of them mean an enormous amount to me.

As it turns out, I didn’t put enough salt on her sandwich. But I’ve gotten better at it since then. ;)

[Special thanks to Highlander for filling in for me. And to all of you who have sent along well wishes. I hope to be better very soon!]



Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

H: This was a really sweet flashback. I'm glad you posted it....and I hope SuperW is on the mend from the dreaded bug (I have a suspicion it's partly post-wedding crash)

Yeah, sometimes the smallest gestures mean so much. Husband said that the day I picked him up from the airport when he first visited Boston was the day he knew that his life would never be the same. I was wearing a green Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and jeans under my trenchcoat, and before going back to my apartment, we stopped for pizza, then bought comic books and beer.

He was hooked.

5/04/2007 1:21 PM  
Blogger AaA said...

SW: Are you breathing?

5/07/2007 2:23 PM  

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