She must have just called the cab when we met. She introduced herself, we shook hands, and I stumbled over my introductions--I wasn't nervous so much as I was trying to incorporate what I was carrying into the conversation and it didn't work, she was just confused. I was just about to recover when the cab pulled up. She said that everything was hectic and hurried away, and I watched her and thought to myself, "They certainly are."
I brushed shoulders with an old man in the store. I muttered an apology, but he seemed so sad, so preoccupied; he barely noticed me. When I'd gotten what I came for, I chose the line behind him so I could watch what he'd purchased:
Milk. Eggs. Produce. Ground beef. A bottle of apple juice. A bar of Snicker's.
The missus would never have let him have that last, he said to the girl at the register. I expected a sly wink but he said it with a sigh and a strange sort of smile. It was the smile that comes at the end of a day filled with laughter and conversations with old friends, where the food was perfect and everyone enjoyed themselves and there was enough for seconds and enough time for a long chat over coffee--but now it's getting on in the evening and he wasn't young like he used to be and he was getting tired and the missus had already gone to bed. His smile said: "it's been a wonderful day, but it's time I got some rest."
I have compiled the entries into the notebook. I hope that whoever you are, whether an old friend or a new visitor, you find this helpful. This was written over the course of December 2006, with the final entry being composed on New Year's Day, 2007.
There was a time I would lock myself in my study for hours, poring over scientific tests--desperately looking for the solution to my latest problem, trying to solve all of the world's questions, questing after the theory of everything. I didn't just need answers, I needed them now. Everything I did had a sense of urgency about it. I would write impassioned essays about the results of my experiments. This was important. This mattered.
A few days ago I brought a cup of tea into the study and kept the door open while an old friend of mine sat and chatted with me. I casually looked over the books and wrote some cursory shorthand notes so I could remember later. The next day I compiled a terse summary of my findings. Nothing about why these might be world-shaking. I've long stopped looking for the theory of everything. I'm happy with some questions left unanswered. I was restless; now I'm content.
I'm starting to wonder where the urgency is gone, though I'm not sure I want it back.