Sunday, August 31, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I decided to buy a home entertainment center for my apartment. I am trying to become a man and this seems like an important step in doing so. I’ve actually had a television for the last month but I have been too lazy to go get the cord to get reception. And since the Olympics were coming up I figured it would be cool to watch the Olympics in surround sound.
I needed assistance in my purchase. I selected a store called PC Richard. I figured since my name is Richard, surely a store called Richard would mean great things. Actually what it means is the people in that store know about as much about electronics as I do. Which is to say they know nothing about electronics.
I flag down a gentleman who seems only too eager to be of assistance as he pushes past another man eating a chocolate ice cream cone to help me. This should have been my first sign that this guy was clueless. Guy (whose name I didn’t catch because I couldn’t take my eyes off the baffled look on his face) really does not know how to help me.
We are staring at a wall of multiple entertainment systems, none of which are in my price range. None of them look new. In fact, a few of them look broken. After some back and forth, it is obvious Guy couldn’t tell the difference between a subwoofer and a Subaru.
Guy goes over to talk to another employee who is standing behind some HD TV blasting Shrek II. I can’t hear what he is saying but I imagine he is repeating all of the questions I just asked him. He is speaking for a minute before the other employee responds and says a bunch of stuff to him. Guy, then turns to me and says, “Oh… get it?”
Do I get what? I’m standing in front of a 94 inch TV with a giant green ogre screaming a Scottish accent through my brain. What the hell could I possibly get except that? So I nudge past Guy to the wizard behind the TV so he can tell me what I need to know. He knows things, and tells Guy to bring me back to the wall of broken toys. So we go there, stare at stuff, and I tell him it’s all too expensive. (I don’t tell him the truth which is that I wouldn’t trust this guy to sell me a jelly donut)
He asks me if there is anything else I need. Reluctantly, I decide to tell him that I need a cable to plug into the wall so I can get reception in my TV. Again, he’s baffled. I thought that sentence was pretty clear. Not so much. I have to explain it to him 3 more times, each time using a different combination of hand motions and nouns that I don’t know the meaning of because I know nothing about electronics. And apparently, this guy only speaks English, he doesn’t comprehend it.
He finally brings me to the area where the cables are and shows me a black 50 foot cable for 19 dollars and a white 50 foot cable for 16 dollars. I ask him what the difference is. He tells me it’s just probably mislabeled. Yea right. I really trust you. For all I know I’ll buy the cheaper one and bring it home only to find out it’s a dynamite fuse and I’ll blow my apartment all the way to wherever the hell Shrek lives.
So I tell Guy, there must be some differentiating factor as there is a 3 dollar difference. It’s in black and white… literally. So Guy stares at the packages for a minute and then says to me, “Umm, you can ask Ron… do you know Ron?”
Do I know Ron? Oh yea Ron, of course, we go way back. We actually go bowling on Tuesday nights. NO I don’t frigging know Ron. Do you know why? Because this isn’t god damn Cheers!
If it was, your name would be Woody, I’d have a beer in my hand, and Dr Frasier Crane would pipe up and answer all of my questions.
So I point to a man on the floor plugging cables into a TV. I think since he hasn’t electrocuted himself yet, maybe he is intelligent. So I ask Guy, “Is this Ron?” Guy responds, “Oh…uh… sure you can ask him.”
What? Oh I don’t care. I talk to floor employee. Floor employee tells me the cables are exactly the same. I ask why the price difference. He ponders that for a second and says it must be a mistake. I don’t trust him either.
I go back to the first non-idiot employee who helped me. He reads both packages and tells me it’s probably just a pricing difference. Him I believe. Third times a charm.
So I take my package to the counter and the nice lady rings me up. She tells me the price is $18.50. I count my dollars, “Ah hell I don’t have enough I have to use my card” I said. She asks me how much I have, I tell her 16 dollars, she scrunches her face, looks at her register and asks me if I have a quarter. I give her one. She lets me have my cable for $16.25. SCORE!
I take the cable home, unroll it, go to plug it in and realize… I don’t have the correct adapter. So I just threw it on the floor and stared out the window instead. I think I’ll just pretend to have TV instead. And that way I don’t even have to pay for cable. Brilliant.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
I said goodbye to the home I grew up in last week. It was the first and only home my family ever knew. The place where a girl became a woman, a boy became a man, and a couple became a family — it was more than a childhood home. It was my family's home. And despite the fact that we no longer have keys to 24 Redwood Road, it will always be my family's home.
It took so long for my parents to sell the house that I honestly came to wonder if it was ever going to happen. I remember them putting the sign out on the lawn just as I was starting to look for my own apartment. It seemed scary and kind of unnerving that strangers would soon be walking through my house trying to decide if it lived up to their standards. I would sit on the couch avoiding eye contact as they walked through and made comments. But all I really wanted to do was scream "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE, YOU DON'T DESERVE IT!"
Our house had no flaws, only wonderments. It all seems kind of ironic considering I spent so much effort trying to leave it. Going across the country for college, and moving out just a couple of months ago. I try to put every aspect of my house into the context of my daily life. I think, whether or not realize it, I seek to recreate the type of feelings I got from experiencing my life through the different rooms in my house.
Saying goodbye to your childhood home feels a lot like saying goodbye to a vault. There are so many things that are locked up within the walls of that house, more than anybody could ever imagine.
It was the only constant that made it through family photos, sadness, cancer, Little League, puberty, Easter, remembered birthdays, forgotten birthdays, fires, floods, break-ins, sneak-outs, surprise parties, 3 a.m. phone calls, records, tapes, and DVDs. It saw blackouts, proms, and emotional breakdowns. It saw it all, absorbed it all. It never asked a single question and never refused a single request. It was a second skin, a blanket of love that I was constantly wrapped in. We all were.
Even now as I feel the heat behind my eyes, I didn't expect to feel the sense of loss that I did when I walked out of that house for the last time. I knew the day was coming when I would have to say goodbye.
It was like watching a dark cloud approaching from off in the distance. I knew it would arrive, but it was just a matter of when. But it didn't feel real. Kind of the way you know your mom is going to tell you that playtime is over and it’s time to get inside before it starts to rain. But as those weeks turned into days and the days turned into hours, I could feel the change. The ending came quick and startling, like those thunderstorms in the summer that flooded our lawns.
I tried to say goodbye to my home. As I did my last lap around the house, not knowing exactly what I was doing, I would point to spots around the house and try to recall a memory. I could have done it for weeks. But reliving a thousand memories there would not have made it easier to leave. Dare I say it would have made it infinitely more difficult?
I have this thing I do with cards people send me. After I’ve held on to them for a certain period of time, and before I throw them out, I kiss them. I’m not sure why I started doing it, but it felt wrong to throw something away without giving it some sort of affection, some sort of a thank-you.
So that’s what I did with my house. I walked around the house and kissed a wall in every room. Even as I write this I know it sounds ridiculous. It was just a thing, a pile of wood and stone and glass and paint. But I didn’t know how else to say goodbye.
I wanted that house to know that I loved it. That I was so grateful for every tear it had absorbed, for every scream it had ignored or acknowledged. That for as many things that I broke, scratched, scraped, or dented, whenever I felt broken, scratched, scraped or dented I could always find refuge in that house. I could always find sleep in that house. And I would never feel as loved, as absolutely cosmically loved as I did in that house.
And I suppose that is all any of us can ever hope for in our lives — to come from a place so absolutely saturated with love that anything less than that seems completely unsatisfactory. I know that I am lucky that two such wonderful people chose to create a beautiful family in a big white house on a quiet street in Suburbia. And as I do not get to play a part in the future of 24 Redwood Road, its past is forever locked up inside my heart, constantly reminding me of all that I have and all that I am lucky to be.