What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Part 4

There she was: The Director. She caught my eye and brought me into her office. We talked. She mostly looked dumbfounded. She was presumably trying to understand why I would have left medicine to come out here for . . . what exactly was I trying to do?

A doddering old bitty stumbled into the office. “I left my bag,” she warbled in her quavering old-lady-voice. The director explained that her bag must be across the hall where the meeting had been held. She spoke in that cartoonishly loud-for-the-infirm way which, if used in our new cardboard home, would have had our divorcé on the phone to the police. And that sweet old lady, who seemed to have forgotten where she had been not ten minutes before, was probably the director’s most trusted, peace-forging lieutenant. What had I done?

In the end, I had not been asked to start Monday, at this ancient coalition for global change. Nor to shuffle off to another organization in this world of world-fixers where she was sure an idealistic young doctor could be of use. The director had however asked me for advice about her husband’s gout.

I left the meeting feeling oddly calm much like the gazelle who’s resigned to the inevitability of its fate in the jaws of the cheetah. Slowly making my way back down the corridor, I guess I should have been wondering what had just happened, and what on earth I was going to do next. But I wasn’t. I was thinking about bread. About Hatbox Louie kneading dough in our cardboard box. Is she making bread?
“Now, rum and Coke. Rum and Coke’s a different thing. There is a reason half the world is owned by a company making bubbly sugar-water. Americans like Coke. It’s that simple…”

Hatbox Louie had indeed been baking and the apartment smelled wonderful. As I entered the kitchen, she scanned me for any outward sign of how the interview had gone. Her eyes gently grazed the paper bag I was holding. I just smiled at her, moved wordlessly to the cupboard for a glass, pulled the vodka from the bag and poured a tall one. “That good, huh?” she suggested. I just smiled at her and replied, in voice so breathy even our dimwit upstairs couldn’t complain, “vermouth.”

Our savings were running out. In a last ditch effort to salvage our adventure, we headed north to Portland, Oregon, Hatbox Louie’s ancestral homeland, and one she remembered as a haven of good food, good coffee, good beer, and an easygoing lifestyle. Yes indeed. The problem is the Bay Area. Too expensive. Too much competition: PhDs working in bookshops, bidding wars on the stoops of apartments-for-rent. Not for us. We head north.

Published in: on November 27, 2006 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

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