Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mourning Routine

Routines, generally, do not settle well with my system. Some routines are okay, say, for example, the morning routine of lying in bed half-comatose, wondering how long I can put off getting up, slowly warming up the synapses by trying to decide what to wear today.

It's a very good thing that my work wardrobe consists entirely of shorts and t-shirts.

Eating the same thing for breakfast every morning simply will not do. Meeting the same friend for breakfast every morning, however, is a lovely routine. I had a friend like that, once, back when we were both single and life was weird but, somehow, simpler. Every morning I pulled into her driveway and pounded on her bedroom window, hoping she'd be not quite startled or sleep-addled enough to grab the .38 she kept under her pillow, hoping the dog would nose her awake so I wouldn't have to. By the time I walked around to the back door and let myself in, she'd usually be up and in her robe, yawning and asking what a girl had to do to get a cup of coffee around here.

Some mornings we had fried-scrambled eggs, as we called them, a dish not really appreciated by anyone else we socialized with, eggs cracked into the skillet and fried until the whites were almost set, then scrambled a little with the spatula before being thunderously salted and peppered and draped with cheese and served over toast with salsa. Sometimes instead of eggs I baked biscuits at home and brought them over wrapped in a towel, or sometimes she baked a coffee cake or made pancakes. Sometimes we just had ice cream sundaes in waffle bowls. And coffee, always coffee we bought when the old Coffee Etc. on Campbell put their half-pound bags on sale, eyeballing the grounds into the metal filter basket of the Krups machine she'd bought as an indulgent whim.

We carried our plates out to the back and sat in the big porch swing I'd rescued from someone's brush-n-bulky pile, watched her dog snuffle in the yard, watched the flowers sway in the breeze, talked about the next great landscaping project or camping adventure we'd undertake. Talked about how we were sure we'd be eighty someday and still be meeting for breakfast every morning, having our eggs and toast and coffee out on the back porch. Then we'd carry the dishes back inside, simultaneously shrug and say, "Time to make the donuts," and after a quick hug I'd head off to work and she'd set about getting ready to go in to her office.

We'd talk on the phone later in the afternoon or evening, just to check in and say hi. I alwyas knew, somehow, when it was her on the other end when the phone rang, even without caller ID. And we'd know we'd see each other the next morning for breakfast. Everyone should have a friend like that at some time in their lives. I had a friend like that once. I miss her more than I can convey.

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