Going to a conference in a famously warm climate was fun and all but let’s face it: You can’t avoid your fate and our fate as Americans is obviously to shiver for five months, because that’s sure enough what we’ve been doing. My man and I packed shorts and t-shirts, bathing suits and sunscreen and really, except for about 90 minutes at the end of one afternoon we never took of the twenty-five towels we tried wrapping ourselves in out by the pool.
Plus then you have to come home again… Where It’s raining and HAS been raining and PLANS on raining for the foreseeable future. Suffice to say we didn’t need these!
This was a conference about gaskets, which we all know and love. And in the end I was happy to be there in the company of people who know gaskets.
“You should come with me to the gasket convention in Orlando,” David had said to me months earlier.
“Gaskets! What are gaskets anyway?” I had said.
“O-rings,” he said. “Things used to make a joint water- or air- or particle-tight.”
“Come on, there aren’t any O-rings anymore, only microchips!” I said back, just to get him going. He’s in manufacturing, an industry which for a while appeared to be diminishing here in the good old US of A like a tray full of Shrinky-Dinks in an oven.
“How wrong you are,” he replied. “You couldn’t live without O-rings. Nobody could.”
And if that wasn’t the language of romance then I don’t know what the language of romance is. And so, to paraphrase Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, I said, yes I said yes, I said yes, I will go with you to Orlando.”
And go I did, to sunny central Florida, where I saw exactly no preening by the Gorgeous Young, nor anyone enviously eyeing anyone else’s contours. Instead I saw only myself reading a story in which the main character finds herself touring Ireland as a passenger in a car her mother has to rent because she herself can’t drive a standard shift. Every day the narrator sits on what should be the driver’s side but without any steering wheel until she begins to feel like a child again and thinks, “I’m back.”
That’s how I felt, despite the chill: Back.
A little kid again with all this solitude.
Watching the people go by.
Reading my book.
Times like this you almost don’t MIND the chill, and hey your fate is your fate. Plus one way or the other you gotta figure there’ll be tulips in a month. Right? Am I right there, please God?