At the beginning of all this, when the concept of quarantining to protect ourselves from the novel coronavirus was still, well… novel, we started doing puzzles. It began with the four of us, but now it’s down to me and Max. Not the quarantining— trust me, all four of us are still present and accounted for every single second of every single day— but the puzzling. After completing a few that we had on hand, we let Max pick one out online. 1,000 pieces. The Bruins at the Garden. It was magnificent.
It has lived on our dining room table, roughly 3/4 of the way finished, for almost a month.
We did move it briefly so we could enjoy our mini-seder without having to look at it. We slid it onto the table leaf pad and carried it into the office, closing the door behind us. The out of sight, out of mind mentality worked for a while. But then I started to feel like we were covering up evidence. Evidence of our inability to follow through. Evidence of our inability to work as a team. Evidence of our inability to keep our minds sharp. So I gave the order to bring it back in.
With the exception of a rogue match here and there, we have made negligible progress. The pieces are miniscule, and I’m pretty sure they’re getting smaller. The only part we have left is the crowd, but that’s like saying the only part we have left of a marathon is the 26.2 mile run.
At the beginning, we had a plan. We strategized. We looked for end pieces, pieces with sponsor names, icy white pieces with blue lines and players. Now it’s all just tiny black and yellow dots. No matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to make them fit.
At the beginning, it was fun. We never used to take the time to sit and do things like a (ridiculously impossible) puzzle. We were always running. Hockey rinks, lacrosse fields, meetings, get-togethers, projects… there was always something to do and somewhere to go. If there wasn’t, we made something up. At the start of this, it actually felt good to just sit and be. But sitting and being is only a luxury if you know that soon enough, you’ll be able to get up and go be somewhere else.
I don’t know when we’ll be done with these god-forsaken cardboard fragments of torment that never should have been created and certainly never should have been delivered to our doorstep. I mean, seriously… at the very least, slap a warning label on it: “EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS REQUIRED.” Because I can assure you, there are no executives here. And I am not so convinced we are functioning.
Sometimes I don’t know how many more times I can look at the same little shapes and see something different. Other times, I am ecstatic to be able to make a piece fit where I swear it hadn’t before. The other day, I considered counting how many pieces were left; it didn’t look like a lot, and I thought maybe knowing an actual number could somehow put an end in sight. Ultimately, I didn’t bother, because what would that number have have told me that I didn’t already know? That it’s hard? That it’s frustrating? That it’s going to test my patience and point out my shortcomings every step of the way, until that last piece goes in and we can finally epoxy it, hang it on the wall, and move on? I don’t know when that day will come, but I do know that it will. And when it does, I’m gonna throw a rager.
Even then, it won’t be perfect. Not just the process, but the actual puzzle. It won’t be perfect, but it will tell our story. And every time we look at it, we’ll remember this moment in time. How we laughed… sometimes not even at the expense of someone else in the room. How we said words that weren’t always so kind, then managed to string together a few that were breathtakingly so. How we were there, together, whether we wanted to be or not. How we saw it through.
And how we had two adoring dogs who loved this time with us almost as much as they loved to eat puzzle pieces.