I am taking it easy today. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Might meet a friend later, might go to a movie. It is cooler and overcast today, and I’m running the air conditioner less and less as I adjust to NYC temperatures.
I have been musing about settling into the mundane. The little things that you need to adjust to when you make a move. The irritants, idiosyncrasies, all of it. I spoke earlier on a larger scale of needing to plot your routes and plan time to take the subway or walk somewhere to get milk, or coffee. Something that in Michigan life would simply mean a hop in the car and a quick trip to Meijer, now requires an hour’s planning with adjustments to trains that don’t run and walking in the wrong direction when exiting the station (which I ALWAYS do).
In my apartment – I hesitate on the “my” because I’m subletting, but – the kitchen sink is very finicky. I am an ice eater, I have learned when I travel, or move to bring my own ice trays and I have a little system in place from day one: fill the trays, put the ice in a contain as reservoir, keep filling and freezing so container is always full. In Michigan one great bourgeois joy in our most recent house was a brand-new refrigerator with ice maker. The joy of having ice ever ready to match the competition in consumption between myself and my oldest child. The beloved ice maker stopped working last summer for some unknown reason and resists all efforts to repair it by husby. Since it is considered a luxury item in our household we also don’t want to pay an expert to come fix it. So, we resort to the old ice trays, which is fine except above-mentioned oldest child refuses to fill them. He is the sort that puts the milk jug back in the fridge with a tablespoon of milk in it, same with cola. He will empty an ice tray for his drink and then put it back with one or two cubes or even completely empty. I have asked him to be considerate, but he is going through the phase in which consideration of others is some sort of affront on his own independence and being asked to do so is nigh to bullying. Sigh.
So, here I am in the new apartment filling the ice trays on the first night and the sink is finicky. I gently turn the knob clockwise a full 180 degrees before water starts to pour. If I do it too fast the water shoots out, hits the well of the tray and fountains into the air and onto the floor. It did this quite a bit the first time as I struggled to learn the faucet’s intricacies. The first installment of ice in the freezer resulted in me mopping the floor with the dishtowel I had just bought. Since then I practice turning the faucet ever so slowly, at just the right force to fill the tray without splashing. It is always a near thing.
But each time I do it I think of my sons and how this difficulty might stop them in their tracks. The frustration of such a simple thing could result in a tantrum, or outburst. And I think of the practice of patience, or the patience of practice to achieve goals. To master difficulties. Even small insubstantial ones.
We are hoping to have the family together next year, meaning Vincent and Galileo. Galileo has trouble with rule-breaking. He needs to understand the rules that are in place and they have to make sense. If they don’t he can perseverate on them. And how do you explain to someone that they are right, the rule is stupid, but you still can’t break it? Case in point, we travel to Montreal often, always driving. A few years ago the boys were at the age where they always want to make smart ass remarks to people. No surprise that crossing into Canada is easy but crossing back to the US can be tricky. When we arrive at the border we would admonish the kids to not make any jokes or talk back to the guard, simply answer any questions directed at them. One such crossing about five years ago, Gali got so wrapped up in the “why?” of not saying anything to the guard. How do you explain to a 13-year-old Asperger genius that there are no written rules for border guards? If they want to stop you or search you they can without any provocation. Once we crossed without proper ID for the boys and they held us for two hours. I had a family picture of the four of us, but they didn’t care, they just wanted to stretch their muscles. Now we always cross with ID and passports. And I recognize in today’s world that I am speaking of a place of great privilege.
On that occasion Gali got so upset that he was yelling because at some point you just have to say “never mind, let it go” since no answer will suffice. That’s what perseveration is – getting stuck on a concept or idea and you can’t let it go, but there’s no right answer or satisfying conclusion.
Anyway, that’s what I think on when filling the ice trays. Gali in New York in the subway seeing the graffiti on posters “why did they mark this one up and not that one?” I could tell he was nervous and tense when we passed people talking loudly, almost angrily in the street, or if we’re on the train and I got up to check the map, he’d get very nervous about me leaving my seat. I’m sure he will settle in with time, but that’s part of the reason I’m looking for an apartment in Riverdale, or somewhere near a park, or a little more suburb-y, so he has a sense of normalcy.
In the meantime I work on mastering the mundane.