My immediate future is bringing me a delicious stir-fry for dinner. I started preparations for that future several hours ago when I removed the tofu from the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw. I learned the hard way that frozen tofu doesn’t actually unfreeze itself by sitting in the fridge overnight or for 24 hours. Not gonna happen. But counter-sitting for the tiniest amount of time — like an hour or an hour and a half — the package is leaking like a sieve! And do you know what’s so funny is that I wrote leaking as l-E-E-k-i-n-g, because I was also thinking about leeks. I’m often thinking about leeks in my future, full disclosure, although I’m not planning to include leeks in tonight’s stir-fry.
When, about two hours ago, that formerly-frozen tofu showed all the signs of being ready, I liberated it, along with what always seems like a gallon of water, from its sealed package. I own square dinner plates that individually weigh five pounds. No joke. These plates are not messin’ around. I do not own a tofu press, unless you count my homemade press built out of eight dinner plates piled on top of one rectangle of tofu, their combined weight approximately 40 pounds. That tofu will be good and squeezed in my near future.
I sometimes fear looking farther afield than tonight’s supper plans, much like Scrooge when he said,
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead . . . . But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
I can see the perseverance of other plans playing out — my birthday trip to the beach, my weekly conversations with my far-from-me mother, my completing my repeat reading of my favorite Dickens’: David Copperfield, and no matter how much my boyfriend doth protest (he doesn’t at all, actually) our protagonist will not magically become the magician David Copperfield incarnate at the story’s end. Although, wouldn’t that have been a triumphant foretelling of future’s tidings by Master Dickens, himself?
What else might the future bring, unchecked and unchanged as our behaviors and patterns and choices might be right now? The crystal ball’s illuminations are so dreary as to wish me right back to Kansas with a dog of my own to hold and to unsee such tidings. Supper plans, be they stir-frys or salads, mean nothing next to the harrowing pile (not that we would pile them, but imagining them that way isn’t difficult) of bodies, dead at our own doing, our own civil war being fought and waged in the hand-picked and preferential battlefields — in the classrooms of children, in sanctuaries of peace, and even in the produce aisle.
I know I’m future-gazing, but that future has me turned around, looking behind me, remembering a picture taken of my then-five-year-old sitting on her school bus looking at me through the window with the grin of all grins, her moment of ecstasy was that moment. Nothing else compared to that future in which she had arrived, fully-prepared, in complete ownership — and the look of triumph on her face will be one I never forget. I do have the picture, but I don’t need to look at it; that face is forever in my heart and in my head.
Yesterday’s future moment seared in my mind forever: an image of a similarly-aged to my once-little girl, her face looking through the school bus window, tears of sheer terror running down her cheeks, her future forever-changed, no triumph or victory awaits.
So what might the future bring? It took Scrooge three visits from three different specters to understand and to grasp the reality that in order for the future to change, he had to change his right now — his behavior, his choices, his opinions, his rhetoric, his investments and his collaborations.
My future is bringing lots of delicious dinners, for sure, but my future-gazing also has me constantly turning around, looking behind me, around me, avoiding places of public gatherings for any purpose: churches (okay, I don’t go to churches for other reasons, but still. . . ), movie theatres, and concert venues.
My tofu and my heart are leaking today, both of us releasing our water-logged selves of the grief that seems to be the ever-present ghosts of our past 24 years, our present living nightmare, and our future accumulation of more senseless murders. But perhaps the ghost’s visit yesterday will be the one that scares us into a different future and we can all get off this carousel, whose only mounts are intricately-painted forms of PTSD, Terror and Grief, whose patina of money, freedom, thoughts and prayers is worn down to the original surface showing through in broad patches. My future self is done crying and done being dizzy.