Friday, August 14, 2015

What Happened To You?

“What a great trip,” I said tossing the dirty laundry into the hamper with a bandage on my finger.
“Yes,” Mr. Wonderful said stowing the empty suitcases in the closet.
“I loved seeing the sights.”
“Yes.”
“Eating great meals.”
“Yes.”
“And laughing with my awesome family and friends.”
“Yes,” he nodded. “…So, let’s get working on the house again.”


When we bought our fixer-upper House I was thrilled. Finally we had a place to call our own; a place to live in; a place to love in; a place to lounge around in our pajamas ’til noon in. I was so happy with The House that I didn’t want to travel overseas, go away for the weekend, even go out for coffee. I just wanted to encase myself in The House forever like a caterpillar in its sticky, sweet cocoon.

That was until the DIY work dragged on and the DIY monster within Mr. Wonderful awakened. For months he had led the attack as we redid the living room, the bedrooms, the hallways, the kitchen (twice), the pool, the front garden and the back garden. We would have redone the roof garden but (thankfully) we didn’t have one. A “roof garden” that is, we did have a “roof”. Although Mr. Wonderful keeps repeating: “We’ll have to redo the roof sometime,” while shaking his head, which makes me shake in my boots.

So finally after working nonstop on The House, Mr. Wonderful and I broke out of its cocoon coziness like two young butterflies off to explore the wider world. I felt refreshed and recharged because like my spouse, the travel was wonderful.

But now we were back home.

“Mail,” the postal carrier said walking up the driveway.
“Thanks,” I said receiving a bundle of advertisements with my bandaged finger.
“You still live here?”
“Ha-ha! We were just gone for a while taking a fabulous vacation to Wine Country, San Francisco and the National Park—”
“What happened to your finger?”
I raised the bandaged digit and shrugged. “I sliced into it while cooking.”
“Wow,” he said with eyes growing large. “Did you cut it off?” 
Here I was visibly blooming with beautiful vacation stories and all he wanted to do was talk about my bloody finger. 
“I still have it,” I said waving him off with my unbandaged hand.

But as I wandered my front garden I wondered about his question in particular and people in general. When confronted with good news and bad, do people prefer discussing the bad? I shook my head. To be fair, I didn’t know this postal carrier well. I rarely saw him so maybe it's just strangers who focus on the bad as a form of chit-chat. I mean, how many times have I been in an elevator when a complete stranger revealed dark family secrets that never should have seen the light of day? Too. Many. Times. 
No, I thought, not all people wanted to hear bad news, just the strangers in our life.

“Where have you been?” said our neighbor with the bright blue eyes. 
“Thanks for asking, Norma,” I said with a wave. “Actually, where haven’t we been? We went to delicious Napa and Sonoma Counties, beautiful Sequoia National Park and fun San Francisco where we saw my—
“What happened to you?” she said shielding her baby blues from the bright sun.
“This?” I raised my hand revealing the bandage on my ring finger. She nodded. “I cut myself while cooking.”
“It looks serious.”
“Well—”
“Did you hit the bone? Did you lose the tip?” she said peering at my digit with a laser-like gaze as if her vision alone could heal it—or cut it off. “Was there a lot of blood?” 
Why did this 85 year-old woman get excited by bloody, chopped body parts? I’m friendly with Norma, so why didn’t she want to know about my very happy trip rather that the shock value of did I decapitate my finger? 

Answer: She was just like the postal carrier who didn’t know me at all. Didn’t anybody I knew want to know how my trip was?

“So you're not dead,” my 86 year-old neighbor said exiting the garage with a broom. 
“I’m alive and kicking, Harold!” I beamed at the neighbor I saw the most. If anyone cared about my trip, it would be him. How many hours of conversation had we shared from our respective driveways, over the fence and in his wood-paneled family room? You could count them in weeks. No, months! Years, I say! “So Harold, we drove up to San Francisco and went on a boat docked in the bay—”
“Did you sail around?”
Harold was asking me questions about the content of my trip! How thrilling! He cared more about me than my chopped finger! Hooray!
“No, we had drinks and then slept on the boat. The next morning we woke up to the sound of lapping water and barking sea lions. It was magnificent!”
“You didn’t sail the bay?”
“No but—”
“I guess you couldn’t sail anything with a chopped-off finger.” He peered at me through his eyeglasses, which magnified his eyes ten fold. “So how did you cut it off? Was there a lot of blood? Did you hit the bone? Go to the hospital? Call 911—”

When I entered The House I still heard him asking questions. For the record: I had a great time in Wine Country, San Francisco and Sequoia National Park. It was FABULOUS, I say! 

P.S. And my finger is healing well, too.