Getting Lost in Living , “Ray” Days and 27 Years and counting …

Definition of “Walking into something”

 

If you walk into an unpleasant situation, you become involved in it without intending to…

 

He was fairly certain now that he was walking into a trap, and wished he’d come armed.

 

Definition of “ Imposter”

noun

a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others

 

 

 

When I think of my life to this point it’s framed in a collection of moments making a whole: not a full uninterrupted, seamless and smooth playing out of time and place. Partly, I suppose it’s because I am practically half a century old and my memory fails me more frequently than in my younger years. More than that I attribute it to the fact that the moments that make a life get lost in simply living. Normal every day pressures, busy schedules, sometimes hectic and sometimes joyful days, investments in people and place and things, these all steal our capacity to keep every moment truly remembered.

 

I have known my husband Angus for more than 30 years and soon will mark our 27th anniversary. That’s a long time to be together and one would assume there are few surprises left between us. Of ‘course that assumption would be wrong. To this day he says things or does things that leave me baffled and I am sure he is equally as confused by me on occasion. He’s the kind of guy who measures twice or three times first and I’m the one who painted murals on walls and windows with reckless abandon when our kids were small, heck I even painted on the walls of the Junior Kindergarten bathrooms in the school they went to. There was not a lot of planning, just an especially creative feeling kind of day, Disney characters for inspiration and too many 4 year olds afraid of the institutional gray walls. When we lift furniture through doorways (which is often because I’m always changing my mind about where things should sit) we always twist and turn in the opposite direction to which the other assumes is logical. We have muddled our way through most of our adult lives together and we have a level of understanding between us that actually does allow the finishing of one another’s sentences sometimes. We are very different personalities and sometimes that makes both of us (ok, mostly me) nuts. Angus just lets it roll. I once called him, in a fit of exasperated anticipation of actually getting a job started and finished, a squirrel, which I’ll explain in a moment. Not because he is even remotely unstable or mentally ill but because he is a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to some things. He’s the kind of guy who will research a purchase of something on-line extensively. Then he will insist we go to seven different stores to comparison shop, not just price but quality. Finally, when I’m lying on the showroom floor, threatening a full-blown tantrum unless he takes me out for lunch, buys me wine – lots of it or chooses something for Gods’ sake and takes me home, almost on cue, he’ll step over my almost cold corpse, look down absentmindedly at me with an expression of “ oh, there you are” and decide we’re going to return to the first store and buy it there. When he starts a home improvement project it usually requires several hours, or days or months of staring at the space where said project is supposed to happen. I would have a hammer in hand and knock things down first and plan later but not Angus.

 

Once he has figured out what he wants to do he has to figure out how he wants to do it. Essentially that means how he can do it with the least amount of purchased material possible (regardless of the fact that repurposing may in fact add triple the hours and effort required to get the job done). This proclivity for intensely long periods of decision-making agony has led me to liken him to a squirrel.

 

I have illustrated this for him by telling him the story of the unfortunate squirrel. “You know”, say’s I “the one who runs into the centre of the road, attempting to reach the other side and suddenly stops, frozen. A car is careening on towards him, closer and closer and he doesn’t react, just remains stuck in place, considering his options. His head turns one way, then the other, then back. His tail twitches, his whiskers wriggle but still he doesn’t move until, SMACK! Too late! Poor squirrel. “

 

Angus just looked at me aghast, shocked expression on his face, furrowed brows and shaking his head, as his father has been known to do and said “ wow, somebody didn’t have her second cup of coffee today”.

 

There is however, a really big however, moments when I think, “ what in the world has he walked into now? What was he thinking and what do we do about it now?” The story of Ray is one of those moments.

 

When we moved to our latest residence (there has been 12 I think at last count) we decided to give up landlines once and for all and use only cellphones. Angus uses his cell phone for almost nothing, seldom remembers to check messages and chooses to ignore any forms of social media except to occasionally connect with his daughters, who are on opposite sides of the earth. I am always near my phone, checking feeds and talking to my kids any chance I get. Most of our family and friends call me first now because they know he will likely not answer. So I was surprised when about six months ago his cellphone actually rang, with an unfamiliar number on display and he actually answered it. I should note that Angus is also, having passed the half century a few years ahead of his much younger wife (aka me), becoming a little hard of hearing. That means, when someone calls him, he puts the call on speaker so he can hear or at least ask me “ what did they say about?” after he hangs up.

 

“Hello, this is Angus “ he said when the cell rang that day.

 

“ Angus, how the hell are you buddy? It’s Ray!” said the caller on the other end. His voice sounded older, like maybe someone in his seventies but it was hard to tell. Somehow I imagined he was smiling, like he was genuinely happy to talk to his friend.

 

“ I’m great Ray, just great. What can I do for you?” said Angus.

 

“ Well you know I really enjoyed meeting you the other day and I was thinking you might want to work with me sometime. Like sometime I need help moving things for people, some heavy lifting you know. Think you might be up for that buddy?”

 

“Sure Ray”, said Angus with a smile on his face. He was holding the phone in his outstretched hand while standing, looking out at the lake and rocking back and forth on his heels while he talked, looking weirdly amused I realized. “ Give me a call sometime, no problem.” Then he looks at me and winked, like somehow I was in on the joke except I had no idea what is going on.

 

“Thanks Buddy, talk to you later” and Ray hung up.

 

“Who the heck is Ray? “ I asked. We have one car and are practically always together and I could not, for the life of me remember meeting anyone named Ray. We’re new to the Province so it’s not like we were acquainted with so many people that I couldn’t remember their names.

 

“I have no idea,” said Angus. “ But he sounded like a nice guy and you know, I’ve got time if he needs some help.”

 

“What the heck are you talking about?” I pounced. “ How the heck can you be his buddy and not know who he is? You can’t go moving stuff for someone you don’t even know. Why on earth would you not say so?”

 

Angus shrugged and looked, as always, unruffled and unfazed. “ The guy won’t really call, no worries and I didn’t want to be rude.” He smiled and resumed his perusal of the boaters on the lake. And that was that, at least for a week or so.

 

Since that call Ray has called at least 5 or 6 times. He’s always happy to talk to Angus and always asks if he’d like to help out with a move. Angus has never told Ray he has no idea who he is. He doesn’t want Ray to feel bad because Ray thinks they are buddies. Each time Angus comes up with some plausible reason about why he can’t come. One of those times he told Ray his daughter was sick and he needed to stay home. Of ‘course he neglected to mention his sick daughter was not really that sick and studying Medicine on another continent so there wasn’t much that dear old Daddy could do. But the next time Ray called he was quick to ask how his daughter was feeling. Now Angus has realized that he’s walked right into this conundrum and ought’ to fess up but every time Ray calls he caves and plays along. We even got a call from some lady named Rhonda one day who needed help moving out of her apartment and Ray had given her our number. Angus had to feign a herniated disc before she would take no for an answer.

I think the next time Ray calls I’ll have to tell him Angus died. It’ll be hard on him for a while to get over the loss of his buddy but maybe he’ll find a new mover who actually shows up.

 

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