Snapshot: Sunday, April 27, 1998.
After avoiding studying for finals once again, I have just completed a three-hour marathon game of Madden 1997, in which I have taken the New York Jets to glory far greater than they’ll ever experience on real artificial turf. At 12:42 AM, I am enjoying an abysmal syndicated sci-fi show called Nightman with my friend in the dorm room next to mine. Another friend bursts through the door and I groan because I know. I know that he wants to make a late night run to Krispy Kreme doughnuts (an hour away) to buy a dozen and beg for some extras. And I know I will join him because, after all, we’re graduating in a matter of weeks, and this life will soon be over.
Snapshot: Sunday April 27, 2002.
After installing my new refrigerator into the home which I purchased yesterday I walk in with my eight month old son and wife to find that a vinyl hose that goes to my icemaker has split and dumped 110 gallons of water into my first home. There is not a spot of carpet that is not wet. My wife is crying, my father-in-law is flipping through the yellow pages of a neighbor I’ve just met, Rafael, to find an emergency carpet restorer and my son is drooling on my shoulder. And as I stand there watching my radically changed life working in its complexity around me, I suddenly have a craving for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Life has been sneaking up on lots of people my age. Study groups have been replaced with project reviews, keggers by Pamered Chef parties and dating replaced with disagreements over “Animal Planet” vs. “Dawson’s Creek.” Somebody has put our lives on fast forward. We’d like to think people are snickering behind our backs at the realtor’s office or at Home Depot as though we are the Doogie Hausers of domesticated living. “Look at this kid, trying to act like a grown up.” Well, the truth is, they are not snickering, and some of us look about as much like a kid as Michael Jordan looks like an NBA player. We are grown-ups, like it or not. And no matter how many albums by P.O.D. we have or how often we’ve seen Mallrats, we have unquestionably entered the world of adulthood. This, in itself, is not the scariest discovery, however. The most frightening element of this life in fast-forward is that things have become intricately and infinitely more complicated.
Which brings me to my most recent debacle involving a busted pipe: Adventures in homeowner’s insurance. Luckily, we were insured for the accident and 72 hours after closing on my house I made my first insurance claim. Some kind of record to be sure. Insurance is like a game where you must lose to win, and if you do win, you must pay more to play again. As I was on the phone with Bill, my disbelieving claim adjuster, I became horrified by the truths coming out of my own mouth. “Yes Bill, a one-inch split in a vinyl tube smaller than your pinky flooded my entire home…. What’s that? When did the policy begin? Well, I suppose it was effective upon the closing of the house of Friday…. Hmmm, yes the flood began Saturday….Yes, that’s right, the next day…. Yes, Bill, it is incredible.”
An insignificant part of the workings of my house had caused a flood that will cost thousands of dollars of damage – of which I only have to pay $500 – and a good amount of stress. These newly added components of my life, each with hundreds, even thousands of subcomponents are infinitely beyond my control. There is no way even someone with copious diligence could begin to keep track of it all, much less ensure something doesn’t go awry.
But then, after I hung up the phone with Bill, who I think believes me now, I realized the same concept that scares me should give me solace. Even if I didn’t believe in a higher power who had my best interests in mind, worrying about what will go wrong next is a fruitless endeavor that will rob me of the enjoyment of those moments where nothing is going wrong. And, in fact, I do believe in a higher power who has my best interests in mind. It dawns on me I have once again forgotten what my job is. I follow. I seek Him “and all these things…” Perhaps I should have that verse tattooed on my arm. I feel like memory-loss Lenny from memento, constantly needing to roll up a sleeve or use snapshots from my pocket to remind myself who I am. And who I am not.
As I sit in my new – now dry – home, preparing for another week at work, watching my wife bounce my son on her lap and hearing them laugh together, another flood occurs. It is supremely beyond my control and the damage it does to my fears and doubts is beyond repair. And I thank God for splits in hoses. He’s given me a priceless gift and taught me a valuable lesson this week. The gift: love. The lesson: copper tubing.
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