Thursday, June 28, 2007

I guess I'll go it alone

Circling around the block for the 4th time looking for a parking spot, I notice the low fuel light calling my attention. I've been looking for a spot for 20 minutes for a quick drop-in at a friends engagement party, and things just aren't going my way. After waiting for an 18-wheeler to complete his wide turn down a residential block, I pull forward in time to see the light turn red in front of me. I finally pull around another corner, when I recognize a faint smell wafting down the block. Rustic and natural on one hand, but completely urban on the other. It takes a moment to place it - it was definitely horse manure. And that is where I caught a car withdrawing from its parking spot. I had finally found a resting spot for my car outside a stable.

Almost an hour late at this point to the party, I dashed from the car down the three short blocks to the hall. I knew nobody there but the band, and the groom was already flooded with well-wishers. After accidentally taking a swig of seltzer - which was kept in bottles identical to the uncarbonated spring water, I retreated back to a post by the band. Clearing a plate of hor d'eurves, I finally pushed my way to the groom, gave him a hug and wished him mazel tov and good night. I was already a minute late to evening services, so I took the opportunity to bolt. I open the door, and am greeted by a torrential downpour. In my haste to finally arrive at the simcha, I had left my umbrella in the car, despite an overcast day. It was coming down too hard to make a break for it, especially since the "break" would have been for 7 blocks. I paced a few minutes, picturing the services beginning without me, as I impatiently awaited a lull in the rain. Finally a chance came, and I bolted in my suit, off towards the synagogue. I made great time, and felt as if I was drifting between the raindrops. A block away and only 4 minutes late, I was still relatively dry. But two stores before I was to pass under a scaffolding that would carry me to the shul's front steps, the heavens opened, and my jacket soaked through. I ran the last hundred feet, too late to turn back as I faced an open sky in all directions.

I finally ran down the stairs, nearly sliding into the wall in my haste to descend the spiral steps. I made my way in only 6 minutes late - to see no minyan taking place. It was summer hours, and they had prayed forty minutes prior. I was safe under the steepled roof, but had now completed a 7 block journey that took me the opposite direction from my car, and had a musty jacket and no Maariv to show for my efforts.

Despite being halfway home, I knew there was another service about 15 minutes away in the opposite direction in 20 minutes. I could make it if all went well. I don't know why I thought that was possible for me. Already soaked, I resigned myself to a full encounter with the downpour, not waiting for any let up. There was no walking between drops on the open streets of the route I took, though, and soon my pants were soaked through as well.

I finally relented and flattened myself against a building wall, hoping the eaves 10 floors up would have some mercy. Emboldened by the seeming protection I was receiving and the ticking clock, I was motivated to hop across the street, where the close protection of a scaffolding beckoned. Gd saw his chance, and loosened the rest of the heavenly faucet as I crossed the street. Finally making it to the covered scaffolding, I noticed that my refuge was actually a direct conduit for the wind to blow the rain through, and between the blowing wet and the leaky tin roof, I was receiving no respite. So without hesitation I made the final push to my car. With my head down to avoid the rain falling into my eyes and to pick out any obstacles, I crossed the last intersection, as I felt the wet sensation around my ankle of my foot descending into some secret puddle buried amongst the squares of the sidewalk. I reached my car, pulled off my sopping sport coat, and sat down for a breath that was interupted by the rain blowing into my covered car door. I quickly closed up, pulled out, and waited for passing traffic to let me join.

Finally, I started to move, when I noticed my window fogging up. I'm not an enemy of the defogger, but I had no budget in my empty gas tank for any further sharing. With no choice, I hoped that I'd make it the 30 miles until I could fill up next. Turning up the cool air, I looked up to see my windshield begin to clear and the last stoplight before the highway turn red. I'd have to lose another 2 minutes on my dash to actually make a minyan. I pull out at the green, and follow the turn up to the onramp, and find myself greeted by a sea of brake lights. With 10 minutes and 5 miles to go, I'm sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.

Somehow, I manage to make it in 11 minutes, and am only 1 minute tardy as I poll off the highway exit. If I can only find a parking spot, I can actually make the crux of this prayer. This time, though, I only circle once before finding a new opening, and I take my umbrella out with me as I run to the shul only 5 minutes late. I dash inside, and find them half-way through. Following the service, I give up my parking spot and head for home, one hour later and 15 minutes farther from my bed than planned. This was the end of a day where nothing went my way. Driving home alone, I couldn't wait for it all to end.

I couldn't have imagined a better script as a metaphor for how I feel now.

I woke up at 5 AM the next day, and found my tire flat.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Growing Up

So now I'm a landowner. And rather then maintain an empty box, I've furnished it. OK, with other people's garbage, but it's my treasure. It's got everything a guy could need. Well, not really, unless you don't need toilet paper. But it wasn't easy decorating the place, and not just because I have very limited design sense. Emotionally, it was an exhausting committment, and not just because I hate shopping.

At first, I thought I was just upset about the prospect of spending money. I do have an innate thrifty side, so I originally suspected that I was just unwilling to part with my hard earned cash. But seeing as I had hundreds of dollars in gift certificates from previous birthdays and Chanukah's that I had never spent (I never needed anything), I really didn't have much of an excuse.

But it was a different investment that I realized I was avoiding. Until this point, pretty much everything I've ever bought was purchased with the same mindset - that I should get tons of use out of this item, until it wears out. That is a great investment.

But the new items I was buying for my apartment were different. I only stood to lose on this investment. See, partially based on my own poor taste as well as based on differences between guys and girls, anything I would buy when I'm single would have little chance of surviving through to married life. That would make this quite the disposable investment.

But on the other hand, marriage isn't imminent. Maybe I'll own these items in my bachelor pad for years to come. Maybe I'll even wear them out. Good investment? Maybe I'm more troubled by the thought that I've just made a safe investment in a prolonged bachelorhood.

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