That old talisman mindset dogged my steps this morning, as I wandered, mostly ineffectively, around the house, half-mindedly applying myself to the little chores that need tending before I go to the café. The Café. That place to which I will be committing the lion’s share of my time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears as of about 4:30 this afternoon—June 30, 2006.

Talismans. Good luck charms. The rituals to which I turn when my control-freak self realizes I have no control. The last-ditch effort to court the favor of Things I Don’t Understand. And to which I have traditionally had only the weakest of connections.

I look upon today as if it were a day as momentous, if a tad tardy, as a college graduation. Of all the people past or present who were ever part of my life, the one person I ache to share this day with is my dad. He would be outwardly cautious and stoic but, just under the surface, bursting with pride and anticipation for our new venture. Which would be betrayed by a twinkle in his eye and a slight softening of the poker face he always wore when Important Things took place.

So, I was carefully planning what I would wear to this event. This signing away of my life. This sealing the deal on a dream. This meeting at which I will undoubtedly be the only one present who truly grasps the cosmic significance of the occasion. Conflicting thoughts of “dress for success” and “dress as if it were no big deal” butted heads in my mind. I finally settled on a simple version of what I probably will be wearing to work for the next umpteen months: a pristine white long-sleeved knit shirt and a pair of black pants. The trousers were chosen specifically for their capacity to make me look slimmer and taller.

And then it hit me. The Dad thing. I knew that I had to take something of dad with me today. If it was January, I might have chosen the scarf I knitted for him back when I was in high school. Or even the ridiculous “Elmer Fudd” hat that hangs by my back door, with the scarf…that pair of things that represents the presence of my dad’s gentle spirit wherever I hang my hat. But those things would be a tad conspicuous, here in the middle of summer. And Dad was anything but conspicuous. They wouldn’t do at all.

There was no help for it. I chucked the stylish, slimming pants back in the closet and dragged out a pair of black jeans. Black jeans with belt loops to accommodate Dad’s black leather belt. It’s wide, it’s worn, and it’s extremely seventies, but who cares? My Dad will be there with his arm around my waist as I step forth into this great adventure. Right now that’s the most important thing in the world.