08 February 2007

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 15

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11-14)

31/viii/04: Richfield, OH and thereabouts
15 miles/24 km

Day 15 (Tuesday):

"Look!" she exclaimed, wiggling her left hand at me.

It was now officially the most chaotic time possible for me to be visiting. L and her boyfriend had spent the weekend moving in to a house they'd bought together, their first mutual digs. I'd spoken to her just the evening before, so this large diamond ring on her finger had materialized in the interim.

"Congratulations! It's beautiful." That's what you're supposed to say, right? I continued consulting my mental catalogue of engagement announcement scenes' dialogue- they were all pretty much the same. I was still not prepared for what she was about to ask.

"So...," she grinned, "Will you be my maid of honor?"

We were still standing in the strip mall parking lot where we'd agreed to meet. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather have one of your friends from here do it?"

"I'm sure. You're my best friend."

Though we did probably still know each other better than anyone else, I hadn't felt like an integral part of her life for a long time. I didn't consider her my best friend anymore. "I think that'd be a bit much even for me. Besides, what does Ed think?"

"I don't care what he thinks," she laughed, "You're my eeknaif." It was a holdover from our back-slang days, a word in reverse whose meaning had been shifted of necessity into something else nearly a decade before because she still wanted to use it.

"No, I'm not," I said flatly. "Not anymore. Ed is."

"Oh, he's not, that's just too weird."

"See?" I smiled, "That's what I'm saying."

"Ok," she conceded. "I get it."

"Are we ok?"

"You're still going to come, right?"

"Yes. Of course."

"As long as you still come, we're ok."

After lunch, I made hotel arrangements and L went home to do some unpacking. I found a local library so I could check my email and see if there was any news from Boo, one of my favorite people. Just the day before, I discovered via her LJ that she was going to be in Pittsburgh for a few days. I had a feeling she was going to be there a week too late for me, but I left her a note just in case. There was no reply.

As I headed out to my car, my cell rang. Boo had helped me pick out this phone almost two years earlier when I knew next to nothing about cell phones. She showed me the basics over my last lunch in Tallahassee, and when I stepped away for a few minutes, she programmed her number into my phone with a special ring. It was her calling now.

In my first bit of good luck with timing, she was going to be in Pittsburgh at the end of the week. Thursday or Friday sounded most promising to us, but since she had an appointment on Thursday, I opted for Friday just to keep it simple.

I drove over to L's new house so she could give me the grand tour. The house was pretty big, but the layout made several of the rooms small. L pointed out things she wanted to remove: carpeting on the stairs and from one of the bathrooms; and things she wanted to change: first and foremost, the Dorito-orange paint, complete with texture, covering the living room walls. Boxes were piled everywhere, sometimes with walking paths between them and sometimes not. We ended back in the kitchen to get something to drink.

Ed walked in through the back door.

"Hey Ed, how's it going?" I called out.

"Hey," he said, looking around, still getting used to the place. He wasn't surprised to see me but hadn't expected to see me there just then.

"I hear congratulations are in order," I ventured.

"Yeah, thanks."

I reminded myself that Ed was a very quiet guy, a little bit strange. We'd met once before and it'd taken him a couple hours to warm up.

"Your back right tire looked low, so I put some air in it," he said.

I didn't know about portable air compressors at the time, so this was a very baffling statement to me. "Oh. Thanks." I looked out the window: my car was where I'd left it, and my keys were in my pocket. Knowing how into cars he is, I figured he'd know better than to use TireJack on it because I'd heard that renders your tire un-pluggable. It would've been a simple matter to ask, but I just didn't feel like it. Instead, I said, "Would you guys like help moving that desk upstairs while I'm here?"

"Are you sure?" L asked.

"Yeah. Let me just grab my steel-toed boots and some gloves from the car." While I was outside getting my gear, I looked at the back tire. It seemed fine, so I decided to just keep an eye on it in case it was leaking.

Back inside, I surveyed the desk, the right turn in the stairs, and the narrow doors at the top. "Have you measured to make sure it'll fit?" I asked, sitting down to put on my boots. "I've got a tape measure on my keychain if you need it," I added, handing my keys to L.

"Do you really like steel-toed boots?" Ed asked.

"Yeah. They're great for keeping your toes from getting smashed."

"We're supposed to wear them at work, but I hate 'em. They're so stiff."

"I've had pairs like that, but these are really flexible. They're pretty comfy actually." I stood up and squatted down on my toes to demonstrate.

The desk was a monster to move even with three of us and got stuck in the final doorway because the door wouldn't open wide enough. Taking the door off its hinges while not letting the desk fall down the stairs required balance, contortions, and brute strength: a mini circus side show. Once the desk was in, we agreed it was time for dinner and went out.

Pulling into their driveway afterwards, L and Ed looked for deer in their new backyard. L and I didn't see anything, but Ed thought he saw something and then decided it was just a flicker of light. When I opened my door, a snout appeared totally freaking me out. I yelled, "Oh my god," and gently closed the door, forcing the snout to withdraw.

"What?" L demanded with alarm.

Since L and Ed didn't own a dog, it took a moment for my brain to register that it was only a golden retriever who'd poked its head in my doorway. Considering my history with dogs, I was thankful he didn't bark; he just wanted to check us out.

"There was a snout in my doorway," I explained. L and I started laughing as we watched the dog jog away. "I guess you did see something, Ed."


One year ago at TTaT: One call I'm happy to take during dinner, Oh yeah, Tax filing tip
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  1. It's such a compelling read, Claire! First the whole engagement concept, and now you have me wondering what will happen to that tyre (yes, British spelling, I'm as attached to it as to celsius...) before Pittsburgh..

  2. Scholiast: Thanks. Perhaps I spent a little too much time on the tyre... I regret to say it has no more payoff in the trip. After I was home for a few weeks, I had to get one of them plugged, but I don't even recall if it was the same one.

    Thanks, Elisabeth.