Keep on Keepin’ On

I was alone in a bar on a Friday night. This was not the plan. My ski club was supposed to have a TGIF in my town, a rarity. I wouldn’t have to fight northbound traffic on 680.
Woohoo! Four hours off from being a caregiver. It had been a long week with the trip to Monterey and new home health aides who needed to learn the drill. But when I got to Faz, the bar was closed for a private party.
“No one called me,” the owner said.
Going home was not an option. The agency only sent people for four hour shifts. I had three and a half hours to go.
I texted everyone I knew. What were they doing tonight? Everyone had plans in their respective towns. Most stuff didn’t get started until 9, the time I had to be home.
A friend suggested in a group text that I go meet his friend Gloria at Forbes Mill, a local steakhouse. She chimed in that I could join her group of girlfriends.
What else am I going to do? I thought. The malls would be slammed, and I wasn’t up for that. I went to the drugstore and bought a heating pad, then headed over to the steak house.
I never went to bars alone, and as I walked in, I realized I didn’t know what Gloria looked like or even how old she was. Bob was older, so she might be, too. How is this going to work?
Forbes Mill was hopping, and the only table left was next to the server’s station at the bar. I pulled out my notebook and began to write. Waiters passed by me, blocking the beam of light to my table, A couple of older ladies came in and joined two more. Could they be Gloria and her friends? They barely fit at their tiny table. There was no room for a fifth person.
My ears were ringing, as they always do in a noisy enclosed space. Ten years ago I would not have come in by myself.
I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and a salad.
Ten years ago was the beginning of the end of my marriage, when I lived in a huge house, filled with six people’s possessions. It took two years to empty that house. My spouse left everything behind except his clothes, cars, and cd’s.
I found seven extra TV’s after he left, two in his man cave (a new flat screen and an old style big screen). Discarded ones had been stuffed into closet after closet, plus two in the garage. He left all his tools, his salt water aquarium, various pieces of furniture, and his mother’s belongings, too.
“Come get your aquarium,” I said.
“Give it away,” he said.
“Come over and drag it to the street,” I said. “I can’t do it.”
I listed the aquarium on Craigslist. I didn’t know how to take down the post after it was gone. 42 people wanted it.
“Can you hold it for me?” one guy asked. “I am in Half Moon Bay (ninety minutes away).”
“Does it still have fish in it?” another person asked.
The first guy who got there took the tank, and the second guy took the cabinet and all the equipment. It was all gone within the hour.
I repeated this system with everything my spouse left behind.
Why am I thinking about this? Oh yeah, it’s the holidays.
I left Forbes Mill and went to OSH to buy a live Christmas tree for my sis, a small one for a table top. The dog would bother a full-sized one.
Then I ran some chorus tickets over to a friend’s house and went home. The new caregiver had had trouble giving my sis a shower. She left, and the dog curled up on my lap while I watched the news.
It had been a good day with a different evening than I had anticipated.
It is what it is. I am going to sleep well tonight.

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