What goes through your mind when the telephone rings in the middle of the night?
We've had "those" calls in the middle of the night, bringing tragic or sad news, so when I was awakened from my sleep at 1:30 a.m. this morning by the sound of the telephone ringing, I froze. It was one of those nights when I was sleeping on the couch. The phone is in the family room, so I knew Walt would pick it up upstairs before I could get to it.
I listened carefully through the ceiling to see if I could tell whether he was talking or not (or if this was a wrong number). I couldn't tell. But then I heard the sound of his feet hitting the floor and the bedroom door opening.
My heart started pounding. Who was it? Was my mother dead? Had Kathy finally died? Did something happen to one of the kids--or one of the grandkids?
Walt came into the living room laughing. "It was XX," he said. "He is leaving his house right now and wants to now if he can stop by for a visit in about 8 hours." We had not spoken to or seen XX since about 2002. We've exchanged a few rare comments on Facebook, but that's it.
My heart was still pounding, but I laughed with Walt, shaking my head at the thought that XX felt it would be OK to wake us up in the middle of the night with a call he could have made when he was closer to Davis and when we would be more likely to be awake and not fearful that the phone was ringing to deliver bad news.
It took me about an hour to calm down and get back to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 2:45. I was glad, at least, that the living room was pristine since we have not started putting all the "stuff" back in (hoping for some muscle help from Ned to get the bigger pieces moved). I wouldn't be embarrassed to invite him into the living room...it didn't even smell of dog pee.
I was wide awake at 6, still thinking about how to do a day-long clean up of the family room in an hour. I also suspected that XX might be wanting breakfast. I need to do shopping to stock the larder, so my options were limited, but I was able to whip up some cranberry muffins in case he was hungry.
The kitchen table has been piled high with the usual "miscellaneous sundries" for
days weeks months, but I got everything packed into shopping bags, which I can then go through, hoping to get everything either thrown out or put in its proper place after XX left.
By 8:30, I was as ready as I would ever be for semi-unexpected guests. It helps that XX has seen this house at its worst--and even stayed here for a couple of days and survived. It also helps that his house, the last time I saw it, was about on a par, mess-wise, with this one. We are both stackers and pilers and "housekeeping" is low on our list of priorities.
At 9 he showed up and yes, he was ready for breakfast so I was glad I had planned ahead. Unfortunately, Walt had a meeting in Sacramento, and was not able to be here, though he was just leaving as XX arrived, so at least they got to say hello to each other.
Nothing ever really changes with XX, but...you know? ...it was really nice getting caught up after nearly 10 years. We laughed, we gossiped about people we used to know, we talked technology and television. He tried to make friends with Polly (who was having none of it), and when his muffin was gone, he said it was time to leave; he had an appointment and it was going to cut it close as it was. He had already traveled about an hour out of the way to come here as it was.
He had been here less than an hour, he had places to be and people to meet and, except for the mid-night panic about the phone call, I was genuinely happy to see him again. I hope it won't be another 7 years before we see each other.
And after he was gone, I went through all the grocery bags, to put all the stuff away, and maybe the kitchen table will stay relatively clean for another day or two.