Since turning 47, number eleven keeps popping up, and I find it comforting, like my own security blanket. I wake up almost every night at 2:11, 4:11, and finally get up at 5:11 when I make strong coffee. As the coffee brews, I microwave the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup, setting the timer for one minute and eleven seconds. Why? I attribute eleven to good fortune, an omen of sorts. Last year, I stapled a check for $1,100,000, to the right of my computer screen. I made it out to me, and Random House signed it. The date on the check is 9/11. Why? I plan on turning a day the world will never forget, into a day I shall always remember.
I pour coffee and hot milk into my favorite dark blue coffee mug; the one with “Michigan Mom,” written in lemon, yellow cursive. This is the mug my problem son gave me in a cardboard box last Christmas. It has been 361 days since I last hugged my son, but the counting stopped yesterday. He is home for the holidays now legally an adult.
Sitting down on my swivel chair, I feel popular today; the way I assume a cheer leader must feel. Thirty-seven people commented on my blog post and my self-confidence is soaring. People care about me and each comment receives my undivided attention.
A loud clanging sound breaks my concentration. Not used to hearing the front door open this early, I forget that my son is home for the holidays. Dressed in gray sweatpants and a Michigan T-shirt, his face hasn’t changed, but his body looks trained for a body building contest.
“Morning,” he says in a voice deeper than the last time he was home. “Any coffee for me?”
“Yes, I made extra,” I say.
His movements are loud. Cabinets open and slam shut. Fridge door closes hard.
“Sleep well? Not too cold?” I ask.
“Not bad. The shed’s a little cold, but Cookie keeps me warm,” he said.
With both hands cupped around the mug, he sits on the leather couch, in darkness.
“Want the TV on?” I ask.
“I never watch TV,” he says.
Is he waiting for me to come over and talk to him? Does he think I’m a selfish mom for spending time looking at my blog comments rather than talking to him?
My shoulders are hunched over, as though hiding my face will lessen my feelings of guilt.
“Want a refill?” I ask, bad conscience lifting me out of the swivel chair. I pick up my mug, making sure “Michigan Mom” faces him as I head towards the leather armchair.
So I want to ask him, “Do you have a girlfriend?” or “What are your grades?” but fear coming across as the inquisitive mom bombarding him with questions. Instead I decide to break the ice by talking about myself first and then, who knows, he might open up and tell me a little about his life in Michigan.
“I just got an e-mail from a German friend Inge,” I say. “She invited me to spend a weekend in San Francisco,” I continue. “She’s earned enough frequent flier miles and invited me to be her guest. Isn’t that nice of her?” I add. After a long pause, my son turns towards me and says, “Why would anyone want to invite you as their friend? You’re no fun and not entertaining.”
Eleven years have passed and the blow hurts even more today. Perhaps there’s more to the number eleven than I know.
I wrote the above short story for my memoir class.
Do any of you see eleven whenever you look at a clock, or is it just me? Does anyone know what it means?