Nov 30, 2023, 06:24AM

The Key

Grandpa lost the extra key. Remind us to make another copy or two.

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Reva was more than ready to see her dad and her girls. It was still strange living alone. At times peaceful. At times empty. The blurry line between solitude and loneliness. Neve had driven out to Tucson five years ago, with her nutty high-school boyfriend Jacques. Neve was a yoga instructor. After a year of Reva asking her about career options (yoga instructor was not on Reva’s approved list), Neve agreed to begin studying for a paralegal’s license. When Becca left for Pomona two years ago, Reva had a month of maternal victory laps. Celebration dinners with friends. A silent retreat for three days. A trip to Peru. After a while, her life was hers again, but whose life was that, now that she was 50, officially on the down slope.

The three-bedroom condo felt enormous during that first year of Reva’s new life. She’d hired an interior decorator to help her plan a minor remodel on the condo, and to bury the memories of her married life. Reva wasn’t interested in sorting out all the details of what went where. Work was busy enough. She just wanted the reminders of Karl to stop. The old coffee cups were gone. The closet was hers. The muddy boots were a thing of the past. The teenage girl paraphernalia was in boxes or went west with them. Still, the way one side of the couch had a permanent dent in the cushions where Karl’s big body used to recline, she didn’t want to replace the lovely old couch. Now, Reva had an exercise room and a guest room, though she rarely had guests.

A late-morning flight, with a stop in Denver. Becca was scheduled to meet her at the Santa Barbara airport when she landed. Reva sat at her gate with plenty of time until boarding and sipped her creamy chai latte. The airport was always a place she reflected on her life. It was natural. The metal bird would soar 35,000 feet above all of the problems humans dealt with and then descend on a new place, far away from the familiarity of those problems. On this occasion, the metal bird would drop down on her elderly dad’s life. She knew his confusion was growing and she knew she had to make a plan with him before the confusion infiltrated everything.

She missed her dad, her Jules. She missed her daughters. Her mother Lisa had been dead for 15 years, which was something of a relief after years of disappointment. She no longer missed her ex-husband, who was now reporting from Eastern Europe. Reva was dating, but highly suspicious of the process. The drawn-out divorce had closed any romantic notions off, like a darkened room in a house of echoes. She decided she’d wait to date until Becca left for school. Reva knew her time was running out if she wanted to remarry. She didn’t rule it out, but got to know people without any long-term expectations. She selected 45-55 as her age range. Anyone under 45 was probably either a lifelong bachelor, or was still dealing with teenage children or younger at home, and wouldn’t be available. Any man over 55 seemed old for her. Men didn’t tend to age well. She was 50, but had taken care of her body and her mind. She felt closer to 40. The dozen or so men she’d shared a drink with all seemed slightly off. Their profiles were fine. Decent to good-looking. Employed. Educated. Progressive types. But they were either too self-involved, talking about themselves the whole time, or they barely spoke and prodded endlessly with their own questions and complaints.

Was there anyone left who could put their phone down and hold a real conversation? Maybe her dad had set an impossible standard in that regard. Maybe it was okay to sip on a glass of wine and talk about the Sixers or the fact that technology was turning us into zombies. She kept swinging and missing with these guys. Except for Nate. She slept with Nate about six times. It was almost ideal. Except he wasn’t divorced. He was separated… until he wasn’t anymore.

Reva looked at her watch and heard her stomach growl. She finished her chai latte, went to the bathroom, bought a tuna sandwich and then sat back down. Thirty minutes until she boarded. It was seven a.m. in Santa Barbara. She called her dad.

“Hey Dad. Good morning!” she said.

“Reva! On your way out here?” Jules exclaimed.

“Yep. At the gate with a tuna sandwich. You having your morning coffee?” Reva asked.

“Just started it. I have a full fridge for you all. Bought that olive bread you like. The Thanksgiving stuff, too. A small turkey. Stuffing mix. Potatoes. All of it.” Jules said.

“Oh good thinking, Dad. Yep, you know Neve and James are picky, but Becca and I will eat anything.” Reva reminded.

“Right, right. Well, I wanted to let you know one thing. I seemed to have misplaced the extra key, so you can just use mine when you go out.” Jules said.

Reva paused and bit her lip so as not to say anything.

“No problem, Dad. We’ll look for it.” Reva said.

“It was in my exercise pants when I was walking last week. But I’m not sure what happened to it.” Jules said.

“We’ll make another copy. No problem.” Reva said again.

"Hey, how about those Sixers?!” Jules changed the subject.

“It’s been fun, Dad. Tyrese Maxey is making the leap, as they say.” Reva added.

“He’s like lightning! I call him “Max Speed,” said Jules.

“I think they’re playing Friday. We’ll watch.” Reva suggested. “Okay, Dad. I love you. See you in a few hours.” 

“Love you, too. Can’t wait to see you all,” Jules replied and hung up.

Reva texted Becca, “Grandpa lost the extra key. Remind us to make another copy or two.” Then she finished her sandwich and watched the gate attendant begin calling out the boarding procedures. She had to think about how to persuade her old dad it was time to let in help. 


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