The room was dark when I opened my eyes; the clock on the table next to the bed read 3:24 AM. I looked up at the ceiling and could just make out the blades of the fan slowly turning. Motion; like my life, constant motion. ‘This is stupid Dave; it’s almost 3:30 and you’re supposed to be asleep, not philosophizing about fan blades.’ But, this is who I am. My mind cannot leave the fear of self-doubt alone. Had I really changed for the better as a person?
The reason for my self-doubt was Danielle. After years of no contact, lives traveling separate paths, we were dating anew. Strong feelings, yes; but mature hesitations to use the word love. I had worked hard to become a better person. Would she see this…feel comfortable in my arms…forever? She would be arriving in ten hours; arriving early for a barbeque I was throwing. This would be her first opportunity to see my house; to compare it to, in her words, the “drab apartment” she remembered from when we dated years before. We both knew it was more than that.
My best friend Donna had given me a positive pep talk, saying I had nothing to worry about. My ‘wingman’ Rich, “Just remember, toilet seats go down.”
Show time; the doorbell rang.
As planned, Danielle toured the house. Not to see the walls, the floors, for they do not make a home; we toured so Danielle could see who I was. She picked up a Blenko glass pitcher, “I like the deepness of the red,” and admired the oil paintings. She looked into an open cupboard, “nice collection of canned vegetables; no zucchini?” (“no way!”). In the bedroom she felt the fabric of the sheets and commented on the warmth of the inviting colors. And in the progression of the afternoon’s flow, she ran her fingers gently over the beating heart that accompanied her.
The barbeque was a preverbal ‘good time was had by all.’ Well, all except Rich, who disregarded my warning and had his plate of ribs, left unattended on the deck stairs, devoured by my dog.
When the evening drew to a close, Danielle and Donna stayed after the goodbyes to help clean up. Sure, I cleaned up alone, while they sat on the sofa discussing my friends and idiosyncrasies. Their laughter was reassuring.
With the house in some semblance of order, I joined them. Danielle tossed down the, now, near empty bag of Route 11 potato chips she had been rummaging through; picking out only those chips that met her satisfaction. On seeing my displeasure of her gluttony, she looked sheepishly at me and yawned.
“Danielle, at least try to make an excuse.”
“You eat your mint chocolate chip ice cream straight out of the carton and I’ll pig out on Route 11’s. Besides, SOMEONE cleaned up by combining the different flavors into one bag, and I am in the mood for the pickle flavored ones.”
Donna was amused, “The alternative Dave is to drive her to the Route 11 chip factory tonight and buy some more pickle flavored ones.”
Before I could respond, Danielle jumped in, “You can go on-line, and they list places all over the country that carry Route 11’s. We could do overnight FedEx from Route 11!”
I wanted to throw my hands up in defeat, but that would be ceding to both of them, “There’s no alternative involved in this…discussion. She just plowed through the bag as if there was no tomorrow. The world will most likely not come to an end before you get another bag!”
Danielle contemplated the bag and taped the Route 11 logo, “But what if the world came to an end…let’s say, next Saturday at 11:599 PM. Okay, it’s now the first second of Sunday morning,” smiling at Donna, “and you, Donna, and I are standing in front of the Heaven Information Booth, and what do you think St. Peter says? He says ‘sorry today’s Sunday and all the stores in Heaven are closed on Sundays!’”
“Yah,” piped in Donna, “all the stores are closed in Heaven on Sunday!”
I responded, “I am sure the stores will reopen on Monday.”
Danielle looked at Donna, the ‘play along’ look, “You missed the philosophical question Da-vid.”
“What’s philosophical about the stores being closed?”
Smug smile, “Simply, Heaven is an eternity and your realization of this eternity starts the second you are conscious that you are in Heaven. Thus, we enter an eternity of Sundays.” Danielle tossed me the bag of chips, “Eat up my love, I hate to hear you wine about the eternity of Heaven if the last NASCAR race of the season was a Saturday night race!” They high-fived.
We wound up talking until eleven. When Donna excused herself to use the facilities before heading home, Danielle walked over, sat on my lap and kissed me. “I’m also going home. My tour of your house…meeting your friends from work…I got to know you today far more than I expected, and I liked what I saw. I really did, but I’m not ready to stay the night.” I understood, yet I knew I did not hide my disappointment very well.
Donna walked back into the living room, “I decided the two of you deserve each other.” My response was, “Oh?” “The discourse on convenience stores in an eternal heaven would have swayed me without even considering the time and the fact we’re not drunk. I think you get the idea.” They left together, the two women in my life; so different, but so much alike, and each important in her own right.
After Danielle had driven off, I had walked through the house, stopping and remembering the looks, words, and expressed feelings each time Danielle had paused on the tour. Donna was right about Danielle seeing me as who I was; not by my words, but by that which was in my life and that which I no longer sought in my life.
(Philosophy at 3:24 AM is a work of fiction adapted from Through a Strangers Eyes, Copyright 2005 Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved.)