d r e m e l

I have to sit on my hands, to keep from texting my ex again. It's Friday afternoon, and I've spent a portion of the previous two evenings at his studio downtown, watching as he saws, fills, glues, and hooks to my specifications. These visits haven't been a secret; Terence knows where I've been. He knows my ex has been helping me make something I need for the business I'm trying to start. Which isn't to say it hasn't been a strange situation, and that there hasn't been a conversation or two conducted in strained voices. But everyone knows what's going on.

So for reference, the ex I'm talking about is my ex ex. My old upstairs neighbor, previously referred to here as "A". I think pretty much all the old posts about that relationship are still up; I maybe pulled one to edit and never republished it. But nothing has been deleted, nothing whitewashed. He's the younger artist I was dating when my dad died; he came to Florida, was there when my dad passed, and helped me get started settling his estate. Should I do a primer, for new readers? Is that weird? Does it matter?

Well, this is a post I like, about that time period. And this, from right before my dad got sick, gives a pretty good idea of what things were like. Or even this. Then grief came and covered everything I knew in a suffocating black blanket, including our relationship. And depression drowned my ability to see anything clearly, like the fact that he wasn't the right guy for me, anyway. Ten years is big age difference. So we dragged on for a while, falling in and out of it in a really sad, unhealthy way. This post is about that back-and-forthing. And when I was finally over it, I wrote this about him.

Now you're up to speed on who I'm talking about. We've kept in loose touch over the past three years, running into one another every now and again, having a friendly conversation to catch up. He happened to reach out to say hi - after several months of no contact - a few days after Terence and I broke up; when I realized he was the one person that could make the thing I needed, I hit him up for help. He made time for me that same night.

Anyway, I'm sitting on my hands because I desperately want my piece back, the thing he's been helping me with. It's been drying on a coffee table in his loft, too wet with glue to bring home the night before. But I don't want to bug him; he's got a million things going on and a busy day schlepping prints across town. Plus there's a girl in the picture somewhere. I don't want to step on anyone's toes.

So when, after a tentative inquiry as to what time he'll be free he vaguely replies "later", I'm stuck spending the afternoon killing time. I let Chaucer take me on the most aimless walk of our lives, since I've nothing else to do; I'm at a standstill until I have all the equipment I need. We sit in the grass, wilting in the heat. But it's a pretty day and I'm considering rejoining Instagram so I shift us into the shade for a quick selfie shoot. My selfie mojo is gone though. I have no idea how to do it anymore. And when did I start showing my age so brutally? Fucking hell. A text comes: an IG buddy is moving to LA next year, for a year! We can be friends IRL! she says. I'm really excited, even if it's only for one year. And the timing is unreal. Terence and I ending, Kerry moving away. One door closes, another opens. I congratulate her on the job that's bringing her to LA. Real talk tho, if you could not interrupt my selfie sessions with your good news I'd appreciate it thx. She sends me a link to blog post that made her think of me, about a breakup. The last line knocks me over: "hold it while you can and love it as you let it go." All the love dear, she adds. Keep drinking that Red Bull.

More killing of time: stopping by Kerry's to fulfill my final catsitting duties. Getting an ice cream cone in Grand Central Market. And yeah, posting to Instagram again. Then, tooling around back at home until I can't stand the waiting anymore. I need to keep occupied until A. says I can come by. So I throw my laptop in a bag and head out to the coffee shop to blog. That's when he texts; he's home and free, and I can head over. YAYYYYYYYYY! I answer, bouncing down the sidewalk. I'll be there in five, I say. KKKKKKKkkkkkkk! he teases.

Does all of this strike you as crazy so far? Just wait.

Now to back up a bit, I should explain that I'm nervous about the thing we've been working on. I'm scared we overdid it, added too much, made it unusable. But the good news is the raw materials cost me less than $10; if I need to start from scratch it's no big deal. I'll only need A. to work his magic again, with his handy Dremel tool. In fact, I've realized, if I have my own Dremel tool, I won't even need to bother him. I can do what I need to myself. But I've never used a Dremel tool and might very likely lose a finger. Maybe I could ask A. to give me a quick lesson on Dremel tools? This is all stuff I've been thinking about today. Indeed I've just looked up how to spell "Dremel" because I've only ever heard the word, not seen it. Silly me thought it was "drimmel" or maybe "drummel".

I rehearse in my head, on the way to his studio, a gentle way to say I might need to start over fresh. I don't want to hurt his feelings, he's a perfectionist and I know helping me out has made him feel good. But sure enough, when I see the final product, dried and ready for me to take home, I know - it's wrong. Too much glue, too many sharp points, too unprofessional looking. Nothing I can take into a client's home. I'm crestfallen but try to hide it with cheerfulness. "You can make a million of these," he reassures me, reading my mind. "I'll help you. It's easy."

I'm grateful he's relieving me of the need to lie, and I launch into my spiel. "Really all I need is a Dremel tool, you know? Maybe if I got one you could show me how to use it real quick?"

"I'll do you one better," he says, walking across the room to a shelf stocked with tool boxes. "I'm pretty sure I have an extra one. Actually..." He kneels, looking among his stores. "I might have one of your dad's."

So. Now we have to back up even further, because you have to go read this.

Done? Okay. Continue.

"I might have one of your dad's," he said, and even then I was okay. I wasn't even surprised. My father's garage had been packed to the rafters with tools and I'd encouraged A. to take as many as he thought he'd use. The idea of those tools getting more use - living on, as it were - delighted me. A. had been hesitant to take anything I could sell but I'd insisted, and we'd packed up a few boxes to send ahead of us back to LA, for him to use in his work. But I hadn't paid any attention to what we were packing; I'd really had no idea which of my dad's tools he had decided to keep, for his own future use.

And suddenly here I was, three and a half years later, standing in his studio, about to be given back one of those tools. Still, though, it wasn't sinking in. Until I saw the box.

Chunky grey plastic. Black latches on either side. Dusty but otherwise in good condition. A. set it on the work bench in front of us and stepped back, smiling, tickled at the coincidence. And that's when I noticed the label. Wide blue painter's tape my father had stretched across the top of the box. Black Sharpie. His handwriting. All capitals. Six letters. D R E M E L.

My breath hitched and I fell back, putting my hand to my mouth. Emotion like a wall of water. His handwriting. The lettering. So familiar. I hadn't laid eyes on his writing in years, and here spelled out in front of me was the word I'd looked up only an hour or two earlier. D R E M E L. Always labelling everything, goddamn him. So unnecessary, Dad. The fucking box says Dremel right on it. So goddamn anal and unnecessary. 

I didn't cry long, but I cried hard. A. let me be, busying himself with finding some plastic wrap to seal the box in for transport. My mind raced. The one thing I need. The thing I need. The one tool I need, when I need it most. What are the chances. The thing I need, to get on with my life. And he gave it - the one thing. What are the chances. And I can't even thank him. I can't even tell him.

I moistened a square of paper towel under the kitchen tap, to wipe the dust from the box. A. moved away when he saw what I meant to do, but I realized he had already started wrapping it. "No no," I said. "I can just clean it at home."

"Do your thing," he said gently, and waited. There wasn't that much dirt on it, though. There probably hadn't been any at all, when it left Florida. So goddamn anal, Dad.


In the three days since, I've found out I don't need actually to make anything at all. The piece of equipment I need is already manufactured, and I can buy it right online. Right off Amazon. It isn't cheap, but it's perfect for what I want to do. No Dremel tool needed, in other words. My tale of incredible coincidence ends with the anticlimax of disuse.

I'm keeping it anyway, though, because you never know. You just never know.