Lisa wrote a list for everything. A shopping list. A checklist when taking the car in for check-ups. Activities for the children, then the grandchildren, lists upon lists. There was a list for work. A list for after work. The weekly cleaning list. The weekend chore list. List after list after list: all in neat, justified left block letters. Never script, where confusions lay. Lisa had a ream of repeating lists, with the rare altercation of an addition or subtraction. She worked hard for that not to happen too often. That way leaves a door open for unnecessary anxiety.
There was one list that Lisa never put down in writing. She refused to believe that there was a need for such a list. She had scratched that off her previous life list, in indelible ink, and had no intention of finding a way to remove the blot of her life. Things moved along as they did, and Lisa’s life was list approved. She was happy, checking off everything that needed to be checked off.
Then HE crossed the line. Lisa dreaded that there was an intrusion in her life list and denied including it on any list. He was persistent in his attention, admiring her work, posting comments on her blog, praising the subtleties of her stories, the intricate character nuances that brought them to life. Lisa was flattered by the attention, but still. She was taken in by the way he constructed his stories and characters. He wrote in genres she would never have written herself, yet they drew her in so that she was breathing the same air his dramatis personae did.
They lived hours away from each other. He calculated it once, after she gave in to his questing, that they lived 214.7 miles apart. Lisa relaxed. He remained off of her list. Her main list. Well, maybe he was an asterisk to the bottom at first. The asterisk s l o w l y moved up the side of one checklist, then another, intruding in places Lisa had had no intentions for intrusions to begin, or stay. Or to leave her in pondering mini-panic.
Their commentaries took a total of nine weeks and four days to move to personal emails. A month later, they began texting. One and a half weeks and their voices met in a two-hour-plus phone conversation. Which grew in spurts, various lengths of time talking, while still commenting on each other’s new postings. The daily texts just happened. If she had listed all of this, the trajectory of it all, the magnitude, would have had her not only blot out each entry but she would have shredded the list, torn the paper to bits, and then thrown the bits into the roaring firepit at her son’s place.
Lisa astounded herself when she heard the word “Yes” leave her lips when he asked if they could meet. In-person. Face to face. A day out from behind the sterile safety of their 214.7 miles. When the plans were concrete, place, day, and time set, Lisa allowed a bubbling list to grow inside of her. They were going to get together the following Saturday. Six days. High noon, he insisted. She loved that movie. She was in.
For the almost full week, Lisa ran 12 pros and cons lists, eight of them written, the others worked in her head as she drove back and forth to her part-time job. The pros beat the cons one drive to, whereas the cons vastly outweighed the pros on the way home. She prepped, changed decisions about things she had firmly decided on, and clogged her wastebasket with itsy bitsy scraps of lists.
Saturday arrived. She was determined to go through with meeting him. Lisa was listless as she drove to the place they decided to meet at an offbeat museum with a decidedly macabre collection and history. Her choice, his ready acceptance, was near the top of her Pro lists every time.
She pulled into the lot, parked the car, and sat to breathe. She pulled out the mini-list she had made that morning and checked the few points off. Unbuckling her shoulder seat belt was the next to last item.
Lisa looked out her car window, toward the front of the museum. He was standing there, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet. She took a deep breath in, held it, let it out slowly, and then opened the car door and got out. He waved and smiled. She returned both, checking off the last thing on that meeting list as she walked over to join him.