On Saturday I headed uptown on the subway, and back down again through New Jersey on one of those double-decker train beauties that the public transportation board started implementing a few years back. I sat alone looking out of a sunny window, avoiding a small plastic trash wrapper that had been tucked away between the seat and the wall. It would have been much easier to move the trash wrapper rather than keep lifting my jacket, which was shielding me from the air conditioner, but I fear the germs that could be on the wrapper more than I do getting a cramp in my overworked left arm.
When I got to a place that was neither North Jersey nor South, aptly named Netherwood, I disembarked and looked for Ms. Andrews. She pulled her white car into the parking lot at precisely the moment my foot touched the last stair, and then drove us to her house nearby. We didn’t talk on the way there because she was on the phone yelling into the speakerphone with a friend. From there I waited in her house until she had awakened, bathed, and fed her young nephew. Either it was the lack of caffeine in iced coffee that I had let become watery while I stared at normal looking towns and people from out of the train window, or a lack of sleep, but it left me feeling like I was sleep-walking. I heard her say that she didn’t have anyone to watch her nephew and that he’d be coming with us, but it didn’t click until we were in the car again. I sat on the couch and watched her do everything that I just named for Bryant. Finally I snapped out of it, and offered him a lesson on tying his shoes. For a five year old, he was exceptionally patient and polite while I stumbled through each step. Eventually I gave up, and just tied them for him. I sucked down half of the coffee that was left in a single sip, and then followed them both back outside and to the car.
This time Ms. Andrews jumped right into a conversation with me, one that revolved around a mutual friend and some gossip she’d heard. “Go on!” I encouraged, and she did. When she got to the height of the story, the part where the person in question was being confronted by a family member, I cried, “No she didn’t! Oh my gosh! Shut up!”
From the back seat her nephew, who had been completely and utterly silent the entire time, cried out, “THAT’S A BAD WORD!”
We didn’t make that mistake again.
After getting unenthusiastic responses from me on what to do for a bachelorette party, she said, “It doesn’t have to be S-T-R-I-P-P-E-R-S you know, it could just be you and some girls having a nice dinner and some D-R-I-N-K-S”.
“We’ll see,” I said and left it at that.
And ever since then, I’ve been spelling things out. For myself and for others. Making things crystal clear.
I’m not going to be overworked to the point that I don’t want to work O-U-T. I’m leaving at a normal time.
And I’m not going to keep eating B-R-O-W-N-I-E-S every day.
And I’m not going to be concerned with what other P-E-O-P-L-E think of me either. At least not so much that it changes my plans.
It’s my business, and I’ll mind it the way I want to.