She was quickly getting frustrated with her paper crane attempt when he walked in from the kitchen.
“Hey,” he said digging into her pint of Ben and Jerry’s Boston Creme Pie ice cream.
“Hey,” she replied distracted.
“What are you working on?”
“Blasted origami,” she replied as she threw it down on the floor next to her. “I’ve been working on this stupid paper crane since this afternoon!”
“Here, let me see it.”
“Because the minute you pick up that piece of paper, I’m gonna be lookin’ at a paper crane in less than five minutes…I can’t handle that right now.”
“But I’ve never done origami before.”
“It doesn’t matter. That’s just the way you are. You’re so blasted good at everything, this is just another thing you’ll be able to add to your list of accomplishments. Gimme that,” she said when she noticed the pint of dessert in his hands. She grabbed it and began scooping the bits of pound cake, cream filling and chocolate bits into her mouth.
With her attention focused on the ice cream, he took the unnoticed time to grab the paper crane and instruction manual. Each held a strong concentration on their tasks, not taking notice of the other. She began to hum to herself and he, knowing the song, joined in with the harmony part. Still, neither took notice. By the time she had finished what was left of the dessert, he had completed the paper crane. They both looked up in time to take in each other’s accomplishments.
“Blast,” she said.
“Sorry,” he replied.
“Oh well. You can teach me how to make one on our road trip.”
“Speaking of…are we going to plan this thing tonight?”
“Yes. Give me a few minutes. I’ll order the take-out. You go grab the planner, map and calculator from my work room.”
“What do we need a calculator for?”
“She says as she goes to order the take-out,” he mumbled as he walked away laughing to himself.
“It’s just necessary to have take-out when planning something like this,” she called from the kitchen. He could never understand how she was able to hear him when he mumbled. She was so hard of hearing with other people, but every time a word was muttered under his breath, she picked up on it. And sometimes she’d say something, and sometimes she wouldn’t. He recalled a wedding they had gone to a couple years ago. At the reception they were both speaking with the bride’s brother. The brother had made a comment that gave him good reason to mumble. As the brother walked away, all she could do was nod in agreement to what he had supposedly only said to himself.
He entered the work room, a tidy room but filled with piles of papers neatly organized. Somehow she was able to keep everything and make it look like she barely had anything at all. Well, at least in this room. The rest of the house was filled with mismatching furniture, piles and piles of books, CDs, movies, antique figurines and paintings. And yet it all looked perfect. He loved spending time in this house because he was able to be himself here. At work he had to be professional, at the gym he was Mr. Buff, at dinners with friends he was the guy who pleased everyone else. Here, he was just himself. Which he figured he didn’t really know what it meant to be himself because he didn’t know who that was. But it was something in this house. He just had to figure out what.
He quickly found the planner and the map and took a few extra minutes searching for the Ti calculator she had had since high school. He finally found it buried deep in one of the Ikea organizational boxes on the shelf.
Back in the living room, he found her holding the paper crane, turning it over and over while looking puzzled and frustrated.
“No, you cannot take it apart.”
“Awe, why not?”
“Because I worked hard on that.”
“Yeah, well you weren’t even supposed to make it.”
“I’m ending this particular conversation now and changing the subject. I have the map, planner and calculator, which I had to dig for and finally found it, but don’t worry, I made sure everything was put back as it was.”
“Good. The delivery guy should be here in about ten minutes.”
“Sweet and sour with fried rice, the steamed dumplings with a side of white rice, and two egg roles.”
“Perfect. So should we wait for the food, or start planning?”
“Well I think if we grab ourselves a drink then we can start planning before the food gets here.”
“Alright. Two drinks it is. In the fridge?”
He walked into the kitchen and grabbed two drinks from the fridge, opening them both with the help of the front tail of his shirt. He handed her one and took a long sip of his and sat down on the floor opposite her.
“So where are we headed first?”
“Well,” she said unfolding the map and studying it. “I thought we could start with Boston. We’ll grab some Boston Creme Pie, try and get into one of the baseball games, visit an Irish pub and try to get everyone in it to join in ‘Sweet Caroline’ or something, then head for New York City. Then Chicago for the concert. And we must make sure we get the deep dish pizza this time,” she added pointing her finger on the map to emphasize each word.
“Right. How long in each city?”
“Mmm, maybe three or four days in Boston, a week in New York, the weekend in Chicago, and then use time after that to take our time getting to the west coast.”
“Sounds good. We should try and get on Route 66 for a little bit. Maybe not the entire way, but part of it. We can see if there are any cool diners with good blueberry pie.”
There was a knock at the door. She went to answer and pay for the food. When she returned he had already grabbed the two pairs of chopsticks she had received from her younger brother when he had gone to Japan. They opened the little boxes with the red dragons printed on the sides and started eating, continuing to talk about their plans. There were a few arguments about which roads to take, whether they should really pay attention to what roads they were taking, and what cities to visit. Eventually they settled on the majority of the trip’s plans and decided they would talk about the rest once they had started their trip. They said good night to each other and he left for his one bed, one bath, tiny kitchen apartment in the city and she to her full size bed in her lavender bedroom.