I’m sitting at the epicenter of chaos and hormones at a sushi bar. Waiting. Snatching stares at the chiming door unashamedly every time it jingles bringing in gusts of cold winter air and forcing out of the chefs an annoying unison of “KANGEI!” The tables are bound in an imitation of maroon satin with half-used candlesticks dead center in an effort to perhaps make the air feel intimate. It failed.
Twiddling my thumbs in no particular motion. The same repetitive movements; back and forth, to and fro, hither and tither, clockwise and counter, wondering where my date could be, if she’d ever show, if she already had and slipped out before I could even notice, out of sheer disappointment in what she saw.
My sister Paige wrote my description on eHarmony. Granted, I didn’t check to verify the information she provided, but I assumed she knew what she was talking about and said honest things that I was perchance, too modest to say. She was the reason I was here now. She had been going on for months about how I needed to get out and smell the pheromones instead of chasing after my son Brian like a widowed-father chicken. But that’s exactly what I was in an array of rearranged words, a widowed rooster too weak to face daylight and squawk at sun-up.
It was quarter to eight, and there was no sight of her, her being Delilah, my blind date with the predilection for koalas and the need to tell me that her voice was nasally, out of fear it would be a make or break factor. I didn’t mind. My mother developed that type of voice when she hit her 50s that stuck to her nasal passages till the winter she put a noose to her neck, taking my father’s sanity with her.
7:50 P.M. The snow is starting to descend like a veil of mini-marshmallows over the city of New York. Granted, she still had ten minutes, but the possibility of me walking out of the restaurant alone was becoming more apparent by each step someone took out the door and every candle a waitress blew out, making me desperate to leave but didn’t, for fear I’d miss someone beautiful, something new, someone I needed.
7:51. A couple sitting adjacent to my table clank their glasses in a toast with what looks like an expensive red wine by the way they whirl and barely dampen their mouths. I had read in a Hemingway novel once, that good wine should never be mixed with toasts. The emotions sour the taste. 7:53. Love is coating the room in a thick musk that never seems to touch the air I’m breathing. 7:55. I sight an old coworker, Frank on the other side of the room with a woman in pink pearls.
Months after my wife Susan became part of a growing suicide statistic, a widowed coworker recommended some self-help books to ease my pain. It was Frank. He also told me that I had to move on not just for Brian, but for myself as well. He also insisted that it wasn’t my fault. My subconscious told me otherwise. Restless nights of sleep were replaced by nights of calming seaside wave YouTube videos, Cranberry Wood candles, dozens of deep breathing exercises, and attempts at sending my fears and regrets off in a pink bubble, before I realized that it wasn’t for me. Not in this lifetime.
7:57. Counting the seconds go by with closed eyes. One tick for every time my eyeball moves from side to side, corner to corner, edge to edge. 7:58. Finding Susan in her wedding dress in the bathtub, to the brim with water. My heart lodging in my throat. Wrists jagged with blood. My knees hitting the ground reaching for her face. Droplets falling from her charm bracelet to the tiled floor. Ribbons of red flooding her gown, like food-coloring dispersing in a sea of crystals.
7:59. Sitting with my three-year-old son on my lap. Holding him tightly with cloaked pain. Explaining why mommy isn’t ever there on his birthday as I point up at the stars, reminding him that though it may seem dark at times, the sun also rises.
I open my eyes to find a lovely woman, short with glasses and the sweetest smile.
“I’m sorry if I’ve kept you waiting. I wanted to be fashionably late,” she explains.
I look at my watch. We burst into laughter.