Chapter 8 - The day the key is found

"We were going to visit molokai this winter"

"He loved it there," I know for a fact that she had never been, that the shared experience was something he and I would have alone.

"yeah, everywhere else we went he complained, said it was too touristy."

"he would"

"for him it wasn't a beach if other people knew about it. He took me down to northern california, when was it?" I can see even from behind that she is crying in that slow leak way some old women have.

"Two years? you visited. Two years ago on January."

"he tells me of this lovely beach, way off 101, and then we park still in the forest, just a trailhead, and we're lugging a cooler and blankets and all that up and down these hills, really schlepping, and then we get there, the wind is like fire it's so cold, and he can't enjoy it."

"he can't-"

"he can't enjoy it because there's footprints all over the dry sand, not even people! Footprints!"

I want to feel superior now, that she couldn't enjoy what must have been an endlessly calm and expansive day on the frozen coast, but it wasn't until a year or two ago that I learned any enjoyment of hiking. before that I just whined, if he made me go, and, cruelest sting, when he came out west I often made up excuses to stay away from him if it ment speending the day tramping up and down behind his untiring hams. All the while lugging a 40 year old cooler.

My father was the most practical man in the world, and there was never a better example than his kitchen. The floor was linoleum. A lot of people hear linoleum, and they think vynil, but the two have nothing to do with each other. Vynil is cheap, comes in rolls so that it goes down in one huge sheet, generally has a texture, and is soft enough to ding with a pair of high heels. Linoleum is expensive, comes in tiles, is perfectly smooth, can look only one way: those smooshed out droplets you remember from elementary school, and is nearly invincible. Cheap apartments have vynil, my father's million dollar condo just north of davis square had linoleum. stove had only two burners, for holidays he would put a pair of electric hotplates on the counter, perfect for stock and cream sauces, the rest of the time he just had those two burners and a tiny oven, enough for one loaf of bread. you should have seen his utility bills, it was a time-warp.

He listened to WBUR, public radio, morning noon and night. He had these little radios, three that plugged in and one that wound up with a big mainspring to turn the dynamo. He used that one to listen to This American Life in the tub on Sunday afternon. He put one of the plugins in the kitchen, listening to Americans all day and brits into the evening drone on about carbombs and colorful local restaurants.

There were so few ingredients in his kitchens: he never even used dry spices. But when he started whisking flour into eggs and milk I knew we'd be eating silvery crepes loaded with fresh cheese and whatever fruit was in season. He had one knife.

Now it's blaring classic rock, and my dad's wife is mixing up meatloaf for the wake with ketchup and a whole jar of garlic powder.

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