Tunnels, grief, sunshine, chocolate.

Sad news. Just days after speaking with her at length at the Chicago Pen Show, Susan Wirth died.

phillypenshowfrom-frankunderwater-com-15

I had first met Susan over a decade ago when I was working at Kinko’s as the person who ordered out business cards. Her cards had an elaborate hand lettered logo that I admired. She explained that there’s a pen for every hand. That was her thing.

She invited me to get in touch with her about finding the right pen for my hand. I was working long hours while caring for an infant in my off hours. I didn’t have the money or the time.

Again, when I spoke with her at the pen show, I didn’t want to trouble her with too lengthy aconsultation because I knew I couldn’t afford that tier of pen. Again, I regret not taking her up on the offer.

Nevertheless, she spoke with us in depth about the functionality of various nib types. Dah had several questions that she answered with patience, expertise, and charm.

Her voice was rough. That’s the only indication that maybe she was under the weather. Speaking to her Sunday, we never would have guessed that by Tuesday she’d be gone.

I admired this woman. I took it hard.

Dah invited me to come spend time with him, and I thought that would be a great idea, even though – or, especially because – I was shook. Taking it hard.

I could have just hid in his bed, but the weather was too nice, and I didn’t want to waste a bit of the time we had together (not that a nap would be a waste of time) so I suggested an adventure.

We drove out about a half hour west in search of different thrift stores. Got a great lunch at a local dive. (Dah had Italian beef, I had a hamburger and buffalo wings.) Saw someone there that Dit knows through Ham radio clubs. Didn’t buy much, but had a great time.

It’s been sunny and unseasonably hot, and we were exploring a town known as a mecca for chocolate production. The air smelled like baking brownies.

On the way back, we got to talking about my daughter and that led to my sharing my own experience with family troubles and experiences with counseling during my high school years. Dah’s a great listener.

Better than I’ve ever had.

I got another invitation to join him for a Hmong storyteller/hip hop artist appearing at an Asian Appreication event at a college the following day. I accepted.

The presentation was energetic and powerful. Afterwards, we explored the interconnect tunnels of the campus, finding the bookstore with some help.

Then we took a chance on a Chinese restaurant we’d never tried before, sitting side by side in the window counter. I got spicy garlic chicken with pork friend rice. Dah had vegetable mei fun. Excellent food,and even better company.

We exchanged our own families’ immigration stories, mostly Dah talking about his parents. Through forged passports, foraged food, bribery, seasickness, hurdles with language and bureaucracy, and detours that took them throughout the world, they ended up together.

I knew less about my mom’s journey, so didn’t say much. Loved listening to Dah’s stories, even though some of he’d told me earlier. I feel bad that he’s shared with me and some of it I’ve forgotten. That’s why it’s good to write things down.

I found a Totoro mug for sale on the way out of the restaurant and bought it on a whim. I tend to have bad luck with buying things new, but thought I’d take a chance. 

I feel so much better after spending time with Dah. I feel like in the past couple days we’ve grown a deeper intimacy too, without really trying. 

With every affective, we still grow closer. I’m very lucky to have him in my life.
Feeling lucky is a good feeling.

– Dit

 

 

Ink and Pancakes

We’re on a fountain pen jag, after attending the Chicago Pen Show last Sunday. 

Yesterday Dah mentioned to me that he needed an ink bottle. I thought I had something at home that might suffice. 

My mom had just finished a tiny jar of kombu her friend Kyoko-san had brought her from Japan. I remember seeing the empty jar and thinking I’d repurpose it. I just had to find it.

Before I had a chance to track it down, he came up with another solution, announcing that he planned to have pancakes, because the syrup sample bottle would work well for ink. 

Dah and I don’t live together. This morning, as I ate my breakfast of a boiled egg and honey-dripped apple, I thought of him waking in his own house to execute his pancake agenda, and thought: bravo, ingenuity! 

Later, I found myself with time to kill on a beautiful day. I was feeling well enough, which I’m sometimes not, so I took a long walk through Three Bridges Park, the section of the Hank Aaron Trail that runs from the Mitchell Park Domes to the Menominee Valley branch of the Urban Ecology Center, near Miller Park. 

Alone but not alone.  There’s ghosts and wildlife, occasionally other park patrons, and of course my thoughts. I feel Dah with me even when we apart. I imagine him walking with me, wishing he could share the slow, myopic trail. 

By the UEC side, there’s a mural that includes quotes from Frank Lloyd Wright add Malcolm Forbes. 

FLW said, “The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.”

Forbes, “Diversity is the art of living independently together.”

What Forbes says about Diversity, I think, also applies to Love.

It makes me think of Dah and how much I value his friendship, and the balance we’ve found between being together and being ourselves. 

This diversity of experience is key to keeping interested in each other’s lives. That we do things on our own, learn things, then share with each other. I feel like I’m his biggest fan, and vice versa. It keeps me excited about doing things, and reporting back.

It’s fun and fulfilling. Makes the shadow of the day seem much more hopeful too.

– Dit

Another Day, Another Typewriter

Well at the Grafton WI Goodwill another SCM typewriter was waiting for me to find and give to Dit. It’s a Citation and worked flawlessly from the get-go. The checkout clerk asked about why I was buying an old fashioned typewriter like the one she used for school – and she looked to be in her 20’s – and I said my gf collects them and this is one she doesn’t have – I hope. It’s a Made in England beige Citation. Made it home and she’s happy with it!

-Dah

Wow! How thoughtful of you. What a wonderful surprise. I will have fun with this, I’m sure! Thank you! – Dit

Couldn’t Find Better

It’s been a year and a day. We didn’t meet up yesterday because I’ve been sick.

We planned to meet at Goodwill this morning. He got there before me, as I knew he would. I know to expect him 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time. He’s reliable.

I knew where to find him. Back of the store, electronics shelf, behind the gigantic microwave, gauging AC adapters for voltage and current type. 

I had just picked up prescriptions on my way there. Getting over the flu.

The plan was to shop together for maybe an hour, have lunch, then part so I could go home and rest. 

Most of the past week I’d been sleeping like a cat, asleep more than not. Waking to fits of chill and cough, runny nose and dry mouth – then to drift back out, dead sleep truncating long nights of unrest.

Finally, seeing him, I felt like I could keep going. Like I would pull through. Our time together is energizing. Worth losing sleep.

Sailed through the day with raspsy throat and rosy cheeks. Two thrift stores. Two restaurants. Clear skies and endless rummage sales.

At the end of the day, he gave me paper. Paper wrapped in paper. Two reams. I understood completely. The traditional first anniversary gift. More literal and more useful than most.

And a phone charger he says will work at a higher voltage and take less time. He had made himself something similar a couple weeks ago. Bought hit for me when he saw it. Because he knows by the end of the day my battery’s low.

Much appreciated. I am touched.

He’s thoughtful. Pragmatic. Relatable.

I couldn’t find better. – Dit

P.S. This is the day I bought the brown shoes and the ginormous snow shovel. Also the Sensū stylus brush. And it was McDonald’s Frork day. Dah got his free birthday BBQ. We bought a lot of chocolate bars.

Sane but Quirky

I had just about given up when you found me, or I found you, however you want to look at that. Read a term in a Codependents Anonymous pamphlet to which I could relate: Relationship Anorexia. I’d been single for the longest stretch in my adult life, and happy for it. Happy in general too. Good thing, because you were looking for someone free of the past and ready to move forward and enjoy better days. Every day with you is better. – Dit