This was going to be a column about my new kitchen counters, and about how you shouldn’t live with things you hate, and then we heard the news from Las Vegas. We were coming home from a college tour in upstate New York, from eating delicious Italian food in Syracuse, from spending time with our dear friend who teaches up there. We were sleepy, sated, a little stressed out about this and that. An ordinary Monday, awash in blessings.
“Mom, I think something terrible happened in Las Vegas,” said my daughter as we were getting on the plane. She had caught something on the TV monitor in the terminal. It said 20 dead, and by the time we got home to Baltimore it was 50, and now it is 59, and many hundreds more are wounded and how can so many people be killed and hurt so fast by just one person? Right, I know how, but it almost seems to defy the laws of nature.
And you can add all the people who may just as well have taken a bullet, or might rather have: mothers, fathers, children, husbands, wives, lovers, friends. This is only the first day; the unbearable lists have not yet begun, the names, the pictures, the stories. They were celebrating their anniversary, she won the trip in a raffle, his wife had just gone to buy a beer at the concession. She was only eight, but she loved country music.
I always wonder if anyone with a plan to commit mass murder ever got to the spot with his guns and thought, you know, I’m going to kill myself in the end anyway, why not start there? If Stephen Paddock had been a mysterious suicide in his hotel room, whatever nightmare he lived in – surely there was something unbearable going on in his head — would be just as over.
But mercy is exactly what there is not. Nor logic of any kind.
I do have beautiful new counters, white quartz with silver sparkles scattered through it, as if a fresh snow had fallen in my kitchen, then diamond chips had fluttered down on top of it. Every day since I got my new counters I have walked into the kitchen and felt joy. I hated my old brown concrete counters so much. They were difficult to keep clean and even when they were clean, they looked dirty. The opposite of the snowfall effect, they offered the mossy swamp effect. The rustic schmutz effect. But I thought ah, well, I won’t be in this house forever.
Then I heard my recently-married son was taking a job that would require him to move from Boston to Bethesda, and I immediately pictured a houseful of grandchildren less than an hour away from my front door. Oh ho ho. I don’t think my grandchildren are going to like these counters at all, I thought. I’ll probably be leaving this house feet first, I thought. Suddenly, after eight years of quiet hating, these counters were on their way to the dump.
It’s not like I didn’t know I hated the counters, but I didn’t realize the amount of happiness it would generate to have them gone. I also didn’t know there was something as beautiful as these new counters that could be pulled in giant slabs from the earth. I still have trouble imagining it. Now, my old counters, them you could easily imagine emerging from the red-brown mud. Well, that’s what they were, basically.
The whole idea of this column was not to brag about my counters (or not only to brag about my counters) but to urge you not to live with things you hate if you don’t have to. You think it’s just low-level static but what do you know, it’s a giant’s cleated golf shoe standing on your joie de vivre.
My sister called a little while ago. She told me she is starting to feel scared. Now we have to add country music festival to elementary school, high school, Amish school, college campus, nightclub, France, movie theater, mosque, church, Jewish community center. When do we get too scared to leave the house, to let our children go outside? The more fragile among us may be at that point already. If you are afraid to leave your home, it’s especially important that you like your kitchen counters.
This was going to be a column about my new kitchen counters, and about how you shouldn’t live with things you hate. If only it were that easy.
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