Thus far, everything has gone as planned.
I woke up, chatted with POI on the phone, went to the kitchen to have a bowl of Frosted Miniwheats then went to the driving range with my mother. We discovered that the golf club in the neighboring city is quite nice, and not too expensive. We each hit one hundred balls, mine going much further than my mothers’ which prompted her to ask me for tips.
I have had exactly one “lesson” from my brother, who used to play semi-regularly when he lived in California. Bend your knees. Stick your butt out. Keep the left arm straight and your eye on the ball. Swing.
I swung a good twenty, twenty-five times before I ever made contact with the ball.
For golf, I had not beginner’s luck but second timer’s luck.
Two weeks ago I revisited the driving range in New York with POI, who likes the game, preferring to have a beer or two to loosen up. We biked to the waterfront driving range and I watched him play before hitting a few on my own.
“You’re pretty good,” POI noted.
“Hm,” I said. I agreed. But as with most things I do (or eventually give up on) consistency was an issue.
My mother, I observed this afternoon, would like to be able to drive the ball out much further than she currently does. Her range hovers around 100 yards, usually just below.
“I’m terrible,” she kept saying, but her shots were consistently straight. The sound her driver head made upon contacting the ball quite appealing.
I recorded a few of her swings on my iphone, saying things like, “Keep your arm straight,” and “Lift the club higher when you pull back,” in Chinese, but was aware that the entire situation was very blind leading the blind. I wondered if the more experienced people to our left and right were chuckling to themselves.
My first thirty or so shots with the driver were consistent too, until I discovered I was terrible on the irons and much better on the woods. I used the driver to hit the last twenty balls, none of which went as far or straight and flat as the first thirty. Consistency, where’d you go, I muttered to no one. Still, my mother was impressed and said it was a shame I didn’t start earlier.
“I wasn’t interested back then,” I said, shrugging.
She thought my tips were good. I’m pretty sure we both imagined it, but she seemed to be hitting just a few yards further by the end of the bucket.
“Take lessons when you get back to New York,” she said, when we were finished. I nodded. That might not be a bad idea.
We came home and had lunch. My mother fried a fish – scallions, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine – and my father suggested we finish off the coffee ice cream.
“Time to buy more,” he said, “though no one eats it with me when you’re not home.”
Everything as planned, this Saturday afternoon. Then I went to my room, called POI. He picked up and I started to cry.
The vestiges of our morning conversation. In POI’s words, I had tried to start a fight because I felt he hadn’t called enough over the past two weeks.
“But we talk every day,” he had said in the morning, though by “talk” he meant “text.”
“It’s not the same,” I said, because it’s not, “And remember. It’s a privilege to talk to me on the phone.”
Eventually we were laughing. We had hung up shortly before I left for the driving range, he feeling as though everything was resolved because there had been nothing wrong to begin with, and I feeling a hairsbreadth better, but mostly needy and uneven.
I spent the last two weeks telling my entire family that I was happy in New York, in my relationship, in school (which hasn’t started).
“This time around it’s very different huh?” my cousins asked, “So different from your first time.”
“Yeah,” I said, “So different and so good.”
It’s true, but I worry about my internal consistency, none of which is documented via the usual channels. What makes me feel happy and steady and at peace one minute and another, say, when I’m packing to leave one home for another, off-kilter and confused? I didn’t want to pull POI into this monologue – the “home” question. The what are we how are we who am I what is the future question. What comes tomorrow and the day after and the month and years and incredible vortex after? I didn’t want to pull him into the one-woman fray, but I had to, because it’s sort of what you sign up for when you date someone with a lot of words.
“I feel strange,” I said to him now.
“I don’t know,” because at that point I didn’t. But we talked and just a few minutes later I knew.
The fact that there were two sets of keys on my dresser, one with a Prius key and another with cards to the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Fare. The fact that I was packing again, taking a few more items of my room with me – things I had thought, when I set them down on whichever particular surface, would stay for many years if not forever. The fact that I spent several days mulling over whether to bring said items – because do they belong at this home or the other? The fact that I’d come back this time, filled with the comforting confidence one has when one returns to a familiar city with familiar, loving faces, only to arrive and feel as though I’d forgotten to bring something important.
I told POI so, though not in those exact words. When I cry the words seem to drip down my face and I often can’t say anything for interminable minutes.
“I think I get it,” he said.
And maybe he does. But more importantly, I got it.