The Puzzler

Kelly and I did puzzles on Sundays, mornings mostly, when the New York Times double dared its daily puzzlers to take the bigger, harder challenge of the page-wide crossword. We were both super sleuths, so we toiled as two resolved to solve the mystery of the hour it took us to fill in all of the empty spaces between the black of the uninvited and irrelevant to the game–like our world on Sundays, just us. There were no other people or places more alluring than the chicory of our coffee, the shaded sun on our table, and the pencil and paper inked with our patience–unconditional time. We were peaceful and complacent then. The metronomic congeniality of our pocket of a world was no more, no less: in the middle of hurry and sleep.

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Kelly was a mechanic. No matter the make, no engine escaped the exhaustive expertise of this meticulous and measured engineer with a temperament of a lover scientist: observant, percipient and objective, yet warm, conciliatory and intuitive. I often heard, “They all have the same components with a switch up here and there to make me go mad.” And even so, even after having handily fine tuned many similar models before me, the puzzler could not calibrate my candor nor loosen my brakes. Typically, my symptoms–the broken parts–never showed before a somewhat stranger (like finally taking the car into the shop for that noise that suddenly disappears), but with time and travel, the intermittent accelerator hesitation, piercing brake squeals and mysterious trunk rattles made the ride rough, uneasy. And so, after much studied twisting and turning and torquing, the chassis collapsed. I was an enigma.

When Kelly moved to the black, I would bring that scratch-pad stretch of space and moment to mind when suffering the turbulence of spinning-on-the-teacups Terry or enduring the ennui of Edward or Kim or Ken or Sam. Back then, I longed for presence of the puzzle, of even-keeled Kelly time in our kingdom of suspended seismography, no pantomime of the naked love or the jealous joust or the sentimental snore, just Cadillac calm and Bavarian precision.

7 Replies to “The Puzzler”

    1. Yes, and some things remain the same, are constants in all relationships, like fear of exposure and misplaced trust, which leads to hesitation and withholding, at least in my case.

      As much as we humans change over decades, certain patterns persist despite the recognition that those tendencies are destructive, especially in significant relationships.

      1. Yes, I do understand that. And often it takes years or decades for one to see it or before it is pointed out by a keen observer; an observer that sees the possibilities in the love the one can provide. But if the one can learn how to extricate one’s head from one’s anal canal and learn to see those patterns for what they are – expired and unusable as sour milk – then perhaps one will no longer be their own enemy and no longer sabotage sincere love.

      2. I wasn’t subtweeting–I dislike it immensely–but you make a good point with respect to unusable patterns. Not all patterns are unusable or outlived, however. Some are protective defense mechanics that keep me, at least, making calculated choices.

  1. I learned early, look closely at that person across the table, there will come a day will see them no more, as close as they may be.
    I remember looking at a girl I saw all the time and told her that, the time will come, and sure it did. Married, kid,… Whittier, gone.
    There is no love not couched in a 747 on flames, on it’s way down and loaded with dynamite, why I guess I love like a mad pilot or co-pilot, I don’t mind letting the lady drive.
    There is robber among us sure.
    These same kind of souls stolen from me in some kind of time machine I can no longer access, would prefer them left behind in the cinders left from my passage to the place I am now.
    This is the best time, I used to back go there, I no longer do. I don’t know why, but I know that taste and glint of that space left, when it was easy.

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