Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the egg

The heater just kicked on. It is so quiet in this room down here, how is that possible?
Today was supposed to be warmer, I wouldn't know, experiencing the day only from my bed, the room dark, the door open and light spilling through bright in the morning to paler in the late afternoon. Six hours of sleep after a long night of work and waking to a three page text message. That used to be me, texting, trying to hold on to a relationship that would not work out. But this one was from a friend of mine. A friend whose life has been rearranged or rather, it seems, blown apart in the past few years. Time and circumstance are sometimes not the best friends. A woman with her master's degree, she has been living in Paula's duplex, because Paula is not living there. But now Paula's daughter is coming back from Florida and needs a place to live and so, this friend will have to move.
We had talked about this before, or rather, she had asked me if I would have a room to rent. Oh. I hesitated. It is not good to rent to friends. Lending money to friends is another no-no. My motto: just give, don't expect back, and smile about it, you are blessed. Hmm. So this was "a thought" that I had been sleeping on, considering in the back of my mind for a time. Once a what if, now a need-to. There is a need, there is an answer. So I texted back and she called.

Janel is fifty three. A film-maker. She has a radio show. We had a falling out a few years back because I am sometimes a stupid idiot, but we are friends again. And for this I am grateful.
A few years ago she divorced a man that she had supported through medical school and residency. They have a daughter who lives with her, Janel that is. The ex-wives of doctors do not always get good child support and alimony. Sometimes they get very little. Sometimes they get nothing.
When she called tonight we talked about the room. I offered the downstairs space. The central stairway is just that, central to the house. At the bottom of the stairs there are two doors. The door on the left leads to Richa's room which is good sized and has its own bath and small walk-in closet. The door on the right leads into a family room which, at this time, has workout equipment, bookcases, sliding doors to the back patio, chairs, lamps and small tables for propping feet. The room where I sleep is directly off the "family room". It is windowless but "womb-like". This downstairs room is the space I offered her, well, the entire family room and storage space i.e. "bedroom". We will move the workout equipment, pingpong table and other paraphernalia out. It will give Janel and Mariah (her daughter) a dedicated space. A living area and "bedroom", a lockable door. It isn't fantastic, but it is something. And the price...

It was my tenth summer when my father had a company picnic. We all went and hung out with other company kids. There were games and prizes. The adults stood around drinking beer and smoking. It was in the days of beehive hairdos. There was an egg toss. I did not want to compete in the egg toss. My younger siblings were competing as a team as were two of my older siblings, I had no interest, or no partner. But there was a really young kid there who didn't have a partner, I was asked to be his partner. Okay. Bottom line was, I didn't want to, but said okay, story of my life. So there we were, a team.
We were given the egg and the first toss was made. I tossed the egg to him and he dropped it, it landed softly at his feet. Already the first group of kids were out, broken eggs. The next toss went cleanly over my head, oops, and the egg landed, unbroken. The third toss he caught it, but dropped it. And on it went, every once in awhile one or the other of us would catch the egg but usually it was dropped or thrown entirely over the other person's head or thrown short, landing with a thud in the dirt or on the grass. One by one, the other groups were eliminated, they broke their eggs. We just kept tossing. Back and forth and back and forth. The adults were really getting into this and there was alot of cheering. Finally, it was down to two teams. The other team was older, maybe twelve, more experienced in egg tossing, obviously athletic, the money was on them. We were clearly the underdogs. A gangly uncomfortable girl and a little boy. One, two, three toss. One two three toss. Back and forth and back and forth. They caught their egg, we consistently dropped ours or threw it so badly that it landed nowhere near the other person. Finally, the toss was made where the egg broke, their egg. That last toss of ours was a doozy, over my head, once again it landed near the pavement, not even a soft spot. The adults were amazed. A man picked up the egg and just looked at it. Who could believe that an egg could withstand so much abuse? For us to win the trophies all the adults wanted to make sure the egg was real, so, in front of everyone that man broke the egg. He threw it on the pavement, the shell cracked and a fresh yellow yolk spilled out into the clear white of the egg. We were announced the winners. The little boy was happy, I was happy for him, and for me. The adults talked and talked about that egg and drank more beer.
Later, my dad took a picture of me with that trophy in our dining room.

What is the point of this story? It was the first time I remembered consciously doing something for someone else, a total stranger, where I expected nothing back, where, in fact, it was an "inconvenience" for me, where really, I didn't want to, but it was the right thing. And in the end, it benefited me. And so, into this adult life I have carried the lesson of the egg and I consciously try to do the right thing. Oh, sometimes I've forgotten the egg. There have been times when I have been selfish, self-centered, stupid and have done the selfish thing, the horrid thing, the awful thing. And that is what has come back to me, the selfish, awful, horrid, etc. What goes around, comes around as I tell my kids, and it does. To me, it is an egg shaped world.

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