The Next Thing

I messed up at work today.

Not a big deal, but yes a big deal because all the deals are big when you care about doing a good job at your job. I suspect a lot of us do care, despite our viciously pretending otherwise.

Maybe the worst part was that it snuck up on me, like a bad Dean Koontz metaphor. I had rolled our Smart TV into the room–to be used for projection at the workshop that was due to start in about twenty minutes–and was arranging tables and chairs when the presenter asked where The Cord was, capital T capital C. These capitals were not the result of her way of asking, but of the immediate suspicion on my part that something was very wrong. And I wasn’t wrong; the TV was sans not one but two crucial elements that until now had been its faithful companions – remote and cord-thingy-that-connects-laptop-to-TV.*

*While I am the token “tech-savvy millennial” at work, this is a good indication of the extent of my IT legit-ness.

Cue cold rush of blood from the fingers and toes directly to the guts.

I found neither cord nor remote, despite searching with thinly veiled franticism every drawer and windowsill and potted plant I could think of in the next quarter of an hour, the regret simultaneously stretching and condensing these fifteen minutes into an agonizing wasteland that had me wishing I would have ______(done literally anything with a shred of foresight).

God knows where the lost parts are; the chaos that often engulfs the arts nonprofit world must have deigned to confiscate them for reasons I will forever fail to understand. The presenter went on to deliver her piece without adequate technology, and the entire hour I felt the weight of guilt and fought to herd those childish excuses that are wont to surface in the throes of failure. These thoughts are not pretty. You know them. We’ll skip them.

In the quiet that followed, I rearranged the furniture with a vengeance. I wrote my column. I prepared for tomorrow, which will come and which will happen whether I or you or anyone likes it or not.

You know what? Sometimes the remote just doesn’t want to be found. And sometimes you screw up. And sometimes you don’t. Either way, there’s still furniture to rearrange. And there’s still tomorrow. And there’s still love for you here.


When There Was Bill

When I was small and it was the weekend, my folks would put records on, and Olivia would dance with me in the living room. I remember Stevie Ray Vaughan and Van Morrison and the Beatles. Mostly I remember The White Album. I thought “Bungalow Bill” was “Buffalo Bill,” and O and I would argue about what was right. I imagine Louise, the youngest, propped up on the couch and watching us in bewilderment, too brand new to know who the hell Buffalo/Bungalow Bill was, or the Beatles. We’d keep at it until Dad called for one of us to ride with him and help pick up the pizza–George’s, probably–and now I wonder how much we actually helped with this particular errand. What I remember, and miss, is how his truck reeked of steel and iron and copper, of tools well-used.

Sitting alone in the office on a Tuesday night, not having done enough at my comfortable desk that does not reek of anything, I think to get up and close the window, but don’t; the George’s supper rush drifts through, suddenly redolent in the waning light, and Main is quiet after a day full up with the din of construction. They’re building a new SPAM Museum, which will fill the gap left by a January fire that burned in the middle of a subzero night several years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to know where there is less mercy, I guess. It’s cool with the sun setting behind the brick of the high school, where there was a fight not long enough ago over nothing, or something, or not enough or too much.

The cops light out again and again from the station across the street, bound for someplace, their sirens going and going and somehow not ever gone. I dig up The White Album on Youtube and hit play, seeking nothing more than a moment of what’s gone, just one split second from those forever Friday nights.

Tonight I am the victim of my own nostalgia, which is probably another one of those awful millennial traits you’ve all been warned about. But when you grow up dancing to Blackbird and Rocky Raccoon and you spend Friday nights driving home with a George’s Pizza warm in your lap and your dad driving the truck back home where there will be music and dancing until bedtime and where the only fights you will have are over what to call this Bill, whoever the hell he is, that’s something to be nostalgic over. And I’m not sorry.