Elements of Chemistry:Capture

By: Penny Reid

Part 3: Capture


A Molecular Comparison of Gases, Liquids, and Solids

-Six months post-breakup-

“I don’t know how to do this, Kaitlyn. You’re going to have to help me.”

“Do what, Dad?”

The phone was silent for a beat before he said, “Talk to you about your mother.”

I grimaced and picked at an imperfection on the kitchen table. Four months ago, when Sam and I had moved off campus, we furnished our apartment with thrift store purchases. The shellac was peeling away from the Formica and I was making it worse.

“I don’t know what there is to say.” I shrugged, biting my lip to keep my chin from wobbling. The truth was that I missed her. My dad and I had been talking regularly over the phone, but I hadn’t been participating in our Sunday meetings for the last six months and I missed having a connection with my mother.

“I think she hurt you. Am I right?”

I shrugged even though he couldn’t see me. Part of the reason I hadn’t contacted her was definitely because she seemed to be indifferent to my feelings about breaking up with Martin.

The other part was because of my fear she’d be disappointed in me. During my summer of discontent after my breakup with Martin, I’d decided to switch majors—from chemical engineering to music—and take the fall semester off school.

Taking a semester off school was the Parker family equivalent of giving up on life. I’d made the decision rather flippantly, and without consulting my parents. However, my determination to change majors had deeper roots and was the impetus behind my current gainful employment as the piano player in a special events band.

After a week of psyching myself up, I’d auditioned in July and was now officially a paid musician. The group played mostly weddings. They also performed at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, swanky business receptions, and office parties anywhere between Boston and New York City. My evenings and weekend afternoons started filling up fast, especially when we’d have to travel into the city for a job.

Being around music almost daily—either as part of the band, or the time spent alone composing—made me realize I had to pursue it. I had to live it. It was my passion and ignoring what gave me happiness and peace was unacceptable.

Instead of admitting the whole truth about why I was avoiding my mother, I said, “I don’t even really understand why I’m so upset with her. She didn’t do anything. Not really. And I know she had good intentions. It’s just…I feel like she doesn’t care about me sometimes, I guess.”

“Well, you’re wrong. She does care about you. She loves you.”

“Then I don’t think I understand what love is. I thought I knew. I thought it was this great thing where two people support each other and work together to solve problems. I thought it was about trust and loyalty, being honest, kind, being a team. But now I have no idea. In fact, I’m doubting that love exists. Maybe, as a society, we made it up to explain and justify our unhealthy desire for co-dependence.”

He was silent for a moment and I knew he was thinking about what I’d said, processing it. One of the coolest things about my father was that he listened to understand, not to react.

“I actually agree with you to a certain extent, if I’m understanding your meaning correctly. We humans, most of us, are co-dependent and it’s often unhealthy. It’s up to the two people within the relationship to keep the co-dependence healthy. But, you are assuming there is only one kind of love, Kaitlyn. I can tell you there are as many kinds of love in the world as there are stars in the sky.”

“That was very poetic, Dad.”

“I bet you didn’t know I used to write poetry for your mother.”

This made me start and I sat up straighter in my chair. “You did?”

“Yes. And it was pretty good, for a medical student who was infatuated with an unobtainable ice queen. It made her melt…a little.”

I heard the smile in his voice and it made me nostalgic for his sweet sappiness.

“What happened?”

“I asked her to marry me, not expecting that she would say yes, but she did. So we got married, and I was in very deep infatuation-love with her. She was so…good. So driven. She was talented at inspiring people and surprising them with how smart she was—because she is, she’s brilliant. And she’s very charismatic.”

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