There’s always a simpler solution, or at least that’s what we are led to believe.
Distillation is a great idea, boiling an idea or thing down to the point of strata that narrowly reveal a small portion of the overall whole. Fantastic, especially if you are creating a liquor, or perhaps a perfume. But with a human being, or for that matter any sentient creature (and who knows how long that list is, dependent on the whole argument as to whom has the rights to claim self awareness) it’s a fallacy, whim, wish, and fool hardy experiment in silliness. Yet we do it time and time again, looking for that one lynch pin of meaning and motivations.
I wouldn’t call it a routine, more a ritual, akin to a tea ceremony, or sacrament that some folks follow; loosely varied but specific. Two high ball glasses are taken from the shelf, ice cubes flexed from trays plopped down in each until they just peek over the rim, tips of tiny icebergs. Olives, green of course, soaked in a brine along with thyme, are fished out of a large jar, stems pulled, thyme removed, then dropped one by one into each glass. The olives for some reason are always counted out in odd numbers, never 2’s or 4’s, just 3’s or 5’s (especially on Friday nights). Why? No idea, just the way it turns out, and seems to end up. A frosted bottle of vodka is pulled from the freezer, two fingers worth poured in each glass, co-mingling with the ice in its thick syrupy way. The final step is nothing more than adding enough water to top off, to give the cubes lift, so to speak.
The pug knows the ritual well, sitting quietly watching each step in the process. She senses that a levity is about to enter, potential snacks to be had while the adults talk. And she is right, appetizers are always a part of the evening decompression, which inevitably end up being shared with the dogs to keep them at bay. Dogs, like most people, rely on a predictability, consistency, and a rhythm to each day, something to bank on and know is happening.
The shadows of the day as we creep closer to the depths of fall, create a chill in the air that belies the warmth from the sunlight. Throughout the seasons we’ve laughed and discussed each day, listening to the stories of wanderings and interactions. Phone calls are ignored. People in general are forgotten for that one brief period. It is S’s time to let her hair down, smile, and fall into laughter. At the point of darkness, pools of melted ice cubes mixed with olive pits in the bottom of glasses, only then do we retreat indoors, to the smells of dinner. The day has been divested of, shed, and put in perspective.
Inside the darkness, harbored in sleep, we prepare for the morning, the scents of espresso, a separation of ways. We know the passages to follow to find our way home, to the place where one can see smiles within the eyes of another, the comfort of a ritual, the safety of a sacrament.