Oh, and I just want to note: scavenging abandoned furniture is pretty common in Korea, especially when you’re broke. People actually abandon some pretty incredible furniture here. There’s even a place for doing it in most apartment complexes. Just saying.
(That said, stress-driven furniture scavenging is… not so good.)
When I snap back into time, I already know where I’m going to land: life in the months just before that moment was so utterly routine that it melds into a blur of drab colors, walls I spent so much time seeing from the corner of my eye.
When I land, silently, in the living room, and I recognize it even in the darkness. Dawn is just breaking outside, and I can hear myself snoring in the bedroom, maybe twenty paces away. I sneak over in the other direction, into the tiny room where I used to use as a home office—it seems so small, so crowded by the massive wardrobe I scavenged down in the parking lot furniture dumping area. The chair, the desk: funny how we lived with these things, when we were broke, and still bruised from what happened on Nguyen Cong Tru, and in Jakarta too. It’s a little crazy to me that we lived like this, a room so small that all that fit in it was a desk and a wardrobe.
I flip open my laptop and open my Dropbox folder, navigating to the same familiar place and opening the Journal.scriv file, wondering why it is we’re not at home.
The date of my last entry, and the contents, surprise me: there’s nothing there about our son, about worrying how much the delivery will cost, or the recovery center, or how we’re going to give a child everything they need and deserve…
Do I not know yet? Then it hits me: of course. This is the day I find out, isn’t it? As quietly as I can, I tiptoe over to the bathroom and find what I never saw the first time around: a pregnancy test in the trash bin, covered up by some toilet paper. She wasn’t quite ready to tell me, yet. Wasn’t ready to imagine it yet. And she knew how turned-around I’d be, I guess? The panic… even now, I can remember it.
Pausing outside our door to listen to our snoring—she’s started now, too—I make my way back to my laptop and, adding a new sub-page to the Journal file I add an entry with the softest keystrokes I can manage:
Stop worrying about money so much!
Be stronger. Brace for *real* worry. Develop your patience and serenity. Appreciate your time.
Stress is weird. Stop scavenging abandoned furniture!
Kids need love. Wives do too. Not the feeling: it’s time, and attention, and kindness.
You’ve got this. (Mostly. Usually.)
I pause before finishing that obvious bit of fatherly advice to an expectant parent, “Sleep while you can!”
God, I think, I can’t believe I wrote that. I select the entire line, and I’m about to hit delete when suddenly I feel a wave ripple through me: the beginnings of time tearing me out of this now again. My fingers fumble, my mind flinching to stay in this moment just a little longer—why? Why am I trying to… just leave it, I think, but by that point, I must have hit the wrong keys, because the entire text is selected and deleted—I’d swear, I just barely see the text disappear, lost to the ether—when I’m vaulted out of time again.
Always editing yourself, I chide myself.
Unsurprisingly, I don’t remember anything new: certainly not finding the laptop open, or the new, empty document added to my Journal file. Things went as I remember them, a rough year for both of us, worry and desperation and stress… and then the weird slurry of exhaustion and love and terror and joy and fear and gratitude. I remember it all, and console myself: nothing I could have written in that journal would have prepared me for all that was to come.
And it worked out, anyway, I reflect, as the days and weeks passing by blur into an opaque worldline of moments compressed into themselves.
Yeah, it worked out anyway, I think, vaguely wondering about whether I’m seeing some clue to the structure of space time in the compression of these moments. Didn’t take long for me to figure out most of what I needed to know.