Reworking the Idea of Perfection

Perfection is a considered workaround to a problem, less so the solution.

It is instinct, but edited for style and adapted for the circumstances at hand.

Some examples:

Sangria from crap wine, peach fuzz, cherry pits – drunk from red plastic, fraternity party-style cups – while bobbing on pool noodles in the lake…

We’re talking about the guy she dated between the first and second divorce, who was 20 years older than her, whose shorts were obnoxiously revealing. We’re laughing, and her mother (my grandmother) is in the house recovering from gallbladder surgery. We’ve been trying to coordinate home healthcare, and to plan meals, and to fix up the bathroom so she’s not afraid she’ll slip and fall. It’s hot as hell.

My college GPA, which is a 3.974 – at least I think that’s what it is…

Whatever GPA one acquires with a single B, that’s it. After all the stress poured into that one not-perfect grade, I don’t remember the final outcome. I do remember the flowers my mother sends to calm me, and the breathing exercises my aunt teaches me over the phone.

Divorce Christmas, which is also “The Truth About Santa Claus Christmas”, turns out to be the only Christmas we spend in our own house, even though by this point it is technically just my house and all the living room furniture has been moved to his house…

At dinner Christmas Eve, we decide to invite his parents and his brother and sister-in-law over to unwrap stockings at 6 a.m. We scour cabinets and drawers till 3 for enough re-gift-able stocking stuffers for everyone. We laugh – unwinding and rewinding all night – as we divvy and wrap up expensive olive oil and Jiffy Pop, bath salts and Pepto Bismol. We sleep, maybe, an hour. It is a perfect Christmas.

One weekend I’ve booked a cabin at a state park and I drive across Tennessee resolved to temporarily eradicate the stresses of juggling a career with a personal life… (This is before I’ve learned it’s better to integrate than to balance.)

I’ve screwed up my calendar and arrive a week too early and all they have available is a room in the lodge where all the old people stay. I buy a Coleman stove at the Wal-Mart in town and take it out on a dock at dawn and stuff a whole chicken in a small le Creuset pot I’ve brought from home, which I set on top of that camp stove, and I turn it into the best chicken soup anyone has ever tasted.

Or when we are still teenagers and dating other people and we try really hard not to kiss each other, but we do anyway (in the woods, against a tree), and you so earnestly apologize to me in writing and we never speak of it again. I still have your letter, which was (is) perfect.

The Ranganathittu bird sanctuary near Mysore is perfect in the middle of the second week we’re in India. I’m alone because Lily is sick and everyone is cranky, hot, miserable. The bird sanctuary is quiet, breezy, clean.

My friend’s mother, draining her drink, when she says she can’t leave him for a weekend to go out of town with the girls: silent, scathing, perfect.

Perfection is boozy, but not enough to wreck Sunday.

It’s a flirty preacher.

A ripped up speeding ticket.

Perfection is letting awkward silences melt to touch. It’s slogging through a conversation no one knows how to have.

Perfection is much more process than outcome, much more about man than God.


7 thoughts on “Reworking the Idea of Perfection

  1. Pingback: The Best “Worst” Year Ever « Knight Stivender's life in full

  2. A conversion that gets so involving during a road trip that the driver forgets to stop for fuel. The rescue gallon of gas arrives in only ten minutes.

    Moving a car five years older than myself across the country in the middle of summer, but the heat never matters because I can smell the dryness of the desert and the moist air hanging over the fields and the dust storm that turns the air in Phoenix brown.

    Forgetting time zone changes three different ways on that same trip, leaving me with two extra hours to linger at the VLA museum in the middle of nowhere on a perfect day.

    Finding our neighbor’s cat dead, still slightly warm, in the street at 2am in Detroit. We carried him to their door, woke them up, and their cat, quite alive, ran past us from the kitchen. We buried his doppelganger in their yard together, laughing at my tears.

  3. Milk, ice, Buttershots and a crumbly mint cookie in a rented glass in a rented mountain cabin in a rented hot tub, where rising steam meets falling snowflakes and someone hurls the now-empty rented glass into the valley just to hear it break.

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