The echoes pinged-ponged around my head for days without any sort of outside acknowledgment from me. I heard them stir in the depths and felt them rise to the surface but kept about my business.
“All I want to do is spend time with you. No one can take better care of you. You can make aliyah later, stay here now. There will be another time. Brother, I just got back from Jerusalem, I’m going to take a rain check on dinner today, let’s talk to tomorrow. The kids are tired, let’s skip seeing grandpa tonight and head over there the next day. You should have found me years ago…”
It is a longer list than I like to admit but when I stop and look around it makes sense for a 50 year-old man to have lived a little bit and to have a list that is longer than a few hash marks on a page.
Perhaps it is better to go elsewhere and dig into the meat while stirring the flames because this particular stew is potent. Sometimes privacy is the best response and sometimes it is unclear.
Should I Drink Whiskey & Sing A Lullaby?
The boys and I are comparing notes on turning 30, 40 and 50 with lots of laughter intermixed among the stories and memories.
In some ways we are all on the same page and place of our respective journeys through life and in others we are so very different. Kids are young, kids are middle school, kids are in college or about to go.
First marriage with hints of endings wander past those who are on second or third and conversations about how becoming widowers changed everything.
Some say they are set and all they intend to do is get old and go along the roads they have chosen and others smile and wish them luck.
“She left me or I left her” provide the introduction but the conclusion is the same, “she died and I was forced to change.”
Drinks are raised and men say whatever it is they say in such moments but I mostly remain silent not because there is nothing to say but because it has been said.
“What will you do with your time?”
“I choose to live.”
“What does that mean?”
“Why won’t you be more specific?”
“Because I can’t control the sea and there are no sails for me to raise now. Just oars that can be used to row and I choose to save my strength for when I need it.
This is what happens when you discuss the echoes instead of focusing upon the broken water heater.
The young kid at the gym tries to rattle my nerves by calling me an old fat man. I smile and tell him he is watching the wrong part of me.
“What is that mean old man?”
“It means I know how to play your game better than you do.”
“That is what old dried up men say when they can’t get women.”
I smile and tell him again he is watching the wrong part of me.
“I don’t need to worry about getting a woman but if I did I’d use my head. I know how to talk to women. I know how to make them laugh and how to make them aware I have an intellect and the ability to think without sounding like an arrogant buffoon.”
“You sound pretty arrogant now.”
“Not arrogant, confident because I have done what I said. Got nothing to prove but you need help and if you were smart you’d ask.”
“Not a fucking chance, you little pisher. You can’t afford me. But here is free advice. If there is someone you are interested in, spend a little time getting to know her. Talk to her, if you can get her to really talk and believe you are interested in listening you 87.3% of the way there.”
There is a brand new water heater standing in a box in the corner of the garage. Five feet north of it there is a closet with the broken one and just the other side of the wall a house full of angry people who don’t want to take cold showers.
I don’t blame them, I don’t particularly enjoy them, especially when the weather hasn’t hit 190 in the shade.
The plumber won’t arrive until Monday morning and that assumes he shows.
“Dad, do you know how to replace a water heater?”
“Sort of, I have seen it done and with a couple of YouTube videos I could probably figure it out.”
“I’ll help you. I really don’t want to take another cold shower.”
A couple of head nods and a deep breath precede my response.
“Some challenges are best left for others. We have options here and I would rather let the plumber do it. He has done it before and knows the tricks. I can probably get it done, but I don’t want to do a half ass job because I am figuring it out as I go.”
That is the funny part of the conversation, I have told the kids a million times that a sizable part of life is figuring it out as you. But figuring this part of out really means knowing when to not go for it.
So I choose to wait for the professional on this one thing while promising myself to go for it on another.
A broken water heater and echoes sum up my weekend, but not my life.