Friday, September 28, 2012

Matchstick Post #2: Falling into Place

Friday dance!!  I'm liberated!!!  9 days until I have to go back to work, woohooo!!  After work was finished (a zillion little things left to do before I left, but not bad at all), I ran some errands, delivered some very special flowers, and headed home to finish getting ready.  And now it's 8:30pm, the suitcases are packed (mostly, save for one load of laundry), the car is ready to go, the cooler is standing by waiting to be filled, and all our "stuff" is in the entryway waiting for the hubs masterful packing skills. Maine, here we come!
In the half hour before the Fringe season premiere (squee!) I bring to you....matchstick #2.

The line:  After trying for more than 20 years, a man finally solves a Rubik's cube he got in high school.

"Falling into Place"

Countdown....10...9...8...7...6..5..4..3....2...1!  Happy New Year!  As the friends toasted the new century, they looked at each other in awe.  The year 2000.  A new millennium.  And soon, new adventures for them all.  "You know", Ron mused, "next year at this time...we'll be returning home from college....graduated....adults...and be in completely different places. 
"To Us", the rest toasted. " To new experiences, new friends, new places....but never forgetting our near and dear at home".  And the glasses clinked in celebration.
Six months later, the big transition came.  High school graduation.  Tossing caps, tears of joy, and graduation parties abounded.  As Ron's family and friends came to celebrate this milestone, Ron found himself showered with gifts and advice.  "Enjoy Penn State, dear"  his grandmother encouraged.  "When I was your age, I had three kids and a husband in the army..."  as she waxed poetic about the past, Ron's attention wandered to the sights around him.  His little cousins scampering after the pinata as it swung precariously from an old oak tree that he once built a house in.  His long time girlfriend, Jen, as she sat with his favorite aunt, discussing her college plans at Cornell.  And his mom, bustling around, trying to serve the entourage of Ron's circle of friends and family.  And suddenly, his Uncle Adam was before him, holding out a brightly parceled package trussed up in last weeks Sunday comics.  Ron smiled in excitement and ripped it open.  Inside the box lie a Rubik's cube, it's colors aligned on all four sides.  Ron looked up quizzically at his Uncle.  Uncle Adam pulled the cube out of the package, and started speaking to Ron.
"Look around you, Ron", his uncle started.  " Right now, your world is pretty much aligned.  You got a full ride to Penn, you have your high school sweetheart next to you, and all your friends and family are here.  Heck, your mom still does your laundry.  You are a big fish in a little pond, and life is good.  However", he continued "When you get out into the big world, things are gonna shake up".  As he spoke, he began twisting the cube so that the colors were hopelessly jumbled and mixed up.  " You'll encounter difficult times and situations, and sometimes the world will make no sense.  And it's okay.  Someday, the colors will align and you will find yourself a grown man in a life that makes sense to you, that suits you well.  And then, the colors will find themselves home".  And with that, he imparted the gift to Ron, who stared at the child's toy with a new sense of purpose.  And he gave his favorite Uncle a big hug.
Long after the party ended, Ron placed the cube on his bureau.  He soon forgot about it.  In the fall, he attended Penn State and majored in Economics, and then applied to law school upon graduation.  He had semesters with a 4.0, and then came dangerously close to failing English Lit Junior year.  He and Jen broke up.  He moved back in with his parents post college, and tried to find himself.  He dated.  He was single.  He attended weddings of his close friends from high school and college.  He moved into the city and became a lawyer at Billford and Sons. 
And every time he moved onto a new piece in his life, he would pick up the cube, make a few twists, seemingly get one side into place, and then the other 5 sides would jumble.  Disgusted, he placed it in a box and banished the cube into the attic.
As Ron headed into his third decade, he met the love of his life.  Gina wasn't anything like any girl he had dated, but she made him laugh.  She "got" his obsession with CSI: New York and the Yankees.  She made him feel like the best version of himself.  And her smile....was heart melting.  The two wed soon after they met, and within three years had two children, a boy and a girl.  Life was good.  A house.  A family.  And a good job.
And then the perfect life fell in.  With the economic recession of 2018, Ron lost his job at his firm, just 6 months shy of making partner.  Gina fell ill, and the medical bills mounted.  As Ron sat in the hospital, awaiting the results of the latest tests the doctor had ordered, his Uncle Adam rounded the corner and put his arm on Ron's shoulder in comfort.  Ron looked up at him with a bemused expression on his face.  "I was just thinking of you, Uncle"  he started.  "Do you remember that Rubik's cube that you gave me 20 years ago?"  His uncle nodded.  "Well, I was never able to solve it.  I got close a few times, but the sides were never aligned perfectly as they were when you gave it to me.  It's no wonder I can't figure my life out.  I can't even figure out a stupid toy".  And his Uncle smiled.  Ron shook his head in complete exasperation.  What did it matter anyway, he thought.  If Gina isn't with me, my life has no meaning anyways.
At that moment the doctor appeared and ushered the two men into the room with Gina.  "I have some big news"  the doctor began."  We've reviewed Gina's scans and have found that the cancer is in complete remission.  Although the medical bills will be quite pricey, they have paid off.  She will return to 100%, I have no doubt".
At this wonderful news, Ron ran to embrace his crying wife and the two sobbed with joy at the news that they had been so afraid to receive.  All was right with the world again.  And as Ron gave thanks to the higher being, he looked over at his sage and smiling Uncle and he finally understood. 
Twenty years out of high school, he thought, and now I finally "get it".  The Rubik's cube can be "solved", but what is that of life?  Life is full of interesting and unexpected twists, and the colors never align perfectly.  But as long as you have most of your sides together, the rest can be a fine mess, and that's perfectly fine.
Who knew a $5 toy would be such a life lesson?  When Ron and his family returned to their home, several thousand dollars in debt but very much with each other, Ron pulled the old cube out of the attic.  I'm done trying to "solve" this puzzle, he thought.  Life can't be solved, but it can be lived.
And with that, he placed the cube on the mantle in the living room in a place of honor so that he would never forget the important lesson.
(Author's note:  I could never figure out those cubes....that might be part of the inspiration of the story!  Who has time to sit around and fiugure out a cube when there are so many more fun things to be doing??)

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