Melissa and I had dinner with our friends Alberto and Bryna the weekend before everything happened. It was our last night out with friends, with no idea of what was coming our way.. As we sat together, catching up, Alberto asked what we had been up to. The only thing I could think of was that I had put a new garbage disposal in earlier that afternoon. As the conversation went along, he asked if it was a Insinkerator or a Waste King, maybe a Kitchen-Aid?. It was an Insinkerator Badger. What horsepower rating did I get? It was a 3/4 HP with three grind settings... and so on. I asked what they were up to. They had just bought a new diswasher, a Bosch. They had picked it up, but needed to special order a power cord... And on and on we went. None of us bored with the topic, all of us comfortable in our lives.
After a few minutes of this we looked up and realized that our young, millennial, hipster, waiter had been listening to us for a while. We were caught, red-handed, being adults. Being grown-ups. He was there to take our orders, but he didn't want to interrupt. We were immediately embarrassed that we weren't talking about something cooler. We then spent a minute or two making fun ourselves. Our waiter, no doubt, has relayed the story about the old people talking about garbage disposals on crowded Saturday night.
I bring this up now because it feels like it was so long ago. I am nostalgic for that time when our biggest concern was what small appliance we should buy. In the roughly five months since that night the world has changed irreversibly. There may be a time when I can get back to that place, but I don't know if can enjoy it in the same comfortable and entitled way. The gravity of her passing has tilted the axis of my orbit, moving me further way from the sun so that things aren't quite as bright, quite as carefree. There are still seasons, but I am now metaphorically living at a higher latitude.
The other reason I was thinking about that night is because I spent the afternoon replacing our old dishwasher. I've needed to do it since the spring, and it was something that Melissa had hoped for. It's part of why Alberto's opinions on dishwashers were so engaging. I've resisted doing it until now because I wanted to take advantage of the black Friday deals. Mission accomplished.
As you can tell, changing out the dishwasher has brought up some mixed feelings. It's something she wanted, but never got. I get to enjoy it, but it will never clean up a mess she's made. It shouldn't be something to worry about, but, as you quickly learn, you can overthink everything if you let yourself.
I am catching myself thinking about these subtle diversions from her world more and more these days. On Tuesday afternoon I was talking to a friend when I suddenly realized that I was wearing a complete outfit that I had bought after July. I had purchased my Levi's, my t-shirt, even my shoes, in October. They were clothes that she had never seen, that she was unfamiliar with. It threw me so hard that I had to excuse myself to the restroom to catch my emotions. Was this a sign that I was becoming someone else?
The answer to that question is mixed at best. No, I am the same person that loves her, and in turn is loved by her. But I am also someone different than the person I was in June. I am going through something that was completely unexpected and is 180 degrees from where I expected to be back then. I am enduring a pain no person should ever have to feel. The correct question, then, becomes, can I blend these two people? Can I hang on to who I was, with the fulfillment and comfort of love, while accepting who I am, with the perspective and introspection brought on by loss? The answer doesn't really matter.
What does matter is the belief that there will be life again. That some night, sometime in the future, I can sit with friends again and brag about all the different water jet settings that my new dishwasher has to offer. It won't quite be the same, but then again, none of us are ever quite the same with time and life; and that is ok.