* * * Going out to breakfast on a weekday.
The bagel joint is not quite awake. The muscular bald man who punches the keys on his point of sales system gives out a motorbike riding, leather boots wearing but friendly nonetheless uncle Jimmy vibe. He gets the order wrong three times and cusses in between takes. I wait patiently. We are so early this is amusing rather than frustrating. He sees the smirk on my face and waves me away.
Please take a seat and we will get it out to you soon.
Somehow he can act frustrated with himself and the register without making me feel bad. It's a gift of sort. We get our orders sooner than expected. More people file in as we wait--long haired high school girls glued to their phones. Dads whose wallets bulge from the back pockets of their jeans. The older crowd hasn't arrived yet. They know to wait out the morning rush by settling into Thai Chi poses somewhere near the greens, behind the home plate at the nearest community park.
* * * Curly hair
He was born with baby hair so tawny and fine it curled up at the ends, a bit Shirley Temple like. Then he became a toddler, and his hair straightened out, though still soft. Too soft to curl, it seemed at the time.
- Did I really have curly hair when I was a baby? He'd ask me on the way home from preschool.
- Yes. Your hair was longer then. It's too short to curl up now, perhaps.
- Then I want to grow my hair out so it can curl again.
It was only a mild case of intellectual curiosity. I figured. We never did let it grow. Little league, cub scout, violin recitals. Many more things demanded our attention, and time. He never mentioned it again, not one to fuss about his appearance.
He is fifteen suddenly. One day I looked up, his head now somewhere above mine. His hair has grown darker, longer. It has been six weeks since his last hair cut. Tendrils have grown past his ears, reached down his neck and are touching down to his eyebrows in gentle, curling waves.
- Your hair is curly now.
- Do you remember...?
He still spends no time on his appearance. No time in front of the mirror other than putting on or taking off his contacts. I reach out on my tiptoe and touch his hair. Surprised.
It's still soft.
* * * Candles on my desk
There are pots of candles on my desk. They are thick and white pillars set inside flower pots. When they are lit, it looks like I have orange and red flames growing among my piles of electronics. Contained. For now.
I love to buy orchids from the supermarket when I spot them. Weeks after in fact. They are lovely, tendrils too weak to carry the heads of flowers so they get propped up by a green floral stick, clipped with a tiny hair clamp. I like the white ones, for they remind me of clouds. Of Beijing. For some reason I know once but can no longer remember.
The orchids never survive for more than a week or two, unaccustomed to the sharp changes in temperature, moisture level and erratic watering routine. I bury them away but save the pots. Then I place my candles in them, and watch the warmth kiss the raw clay surface inside, until it too, glows.