Me I will throw away.
Me sufficient for the day
The sticky self that clings
Adhesions on the wings
To love and adventure,
To go on the grand tour
A man must be free
By Patrick Kavanagh
A stretch of time at the lake always unwinds me, softens my outlook, entreats me with such comfort it’s as if I slathered lotion on my dry chapped skin and crawled into bed. I feel nourished.
I can smell the dampness all around me, and the heavy fog hovers over my mountain as if aged breasts, heavy with unshed rain. If only I could reach through the mist and touch the muted sun I would know warmth.
I like to wake up slowly, enjoy a quiet stretch in which to think, linger between the soft sheets, read a few pages of whatever book is left on my nightstand, before engaging with the world.
Larry’s browsing the newspaper on his computer as I walk into the living room, stop for a spry kiss, before procuring my coffee. Up at the lake I don’t get bedside service as Larry allows me to sleep as long as I want. It’s now 7:05 am and he’s calling me sleepyhead?
I hear him say as I fill my favorite mug, “you remember how everyone was predicting a baby boom after the pandemic?”
I take my first sip, and say, “Yes, I was hoping for more grandchildren.”
“Well, that’s not happening.”
“Couples are getting tired of each other.”
I don’t want to sound rude so I say, “is that a fact?” What I want to say is “no shit Sherlock.”
“They have a list of suggestions here for spicing up your sex life.”
“They do not!”
He laughs, scans the lists, and says, “sex toys are outselling Pelotons.”
“I’d rather have a Peloton.”
I get the look, “and they suggest finding new locations for that sort of activity.”
“What? No bed, no missionary position, scandalous. Honey do you want some toast?”
“As a matter of fact, kitchen islands are very popular.”
“What kind of publication are you reading?”
“The Wall Street Journal.”
“I’m just reading you the news. Could you get me a refill?”
“Anything to keep you out of the kitchen!”
Grabbing his mug I allow my insecurities to emerge from the cracks of our verbal volley, sprouting like weeds. Are you bored? Am I boring? Can we “roundup” these feelings?
Passing off the steaming brew, I move to the window overlooking the lake to watch a flock of pelicans floating in the calm water, for a moment my aged eyes thought they were a reflection of the white clouds on the smooth surface. It’s always exciting when the pelicans return from the coast, as I consider the underlying issues surfacing in our society during this forced quarantine, I can’t help but consider how this universal boredom is really a reflection of our COVID culture, spread organically from person to person.
We’re tired of the isolation, the restrictions, and predictable routines.
Maybe the pelicans are on to something? They summer on the coast, have one child (they allow siblicide, a Cain and Abel sort of thing, but that’s another blog), and return to the warm lake where food is plentiful for the winter.
It seems locational changes can help with boredom. I glance back at the granite countertop.
Larry breaks into my thoughts and says, “Motorhomes are hot right now, people are traveling all over the country, can’t go to Italy might as well go to Idaho.” He lobes the conversation into the back court.
“I heard rents in San Francisco have dropped like 35 percent?” I bump it along with a forearm assist.
“Just read in the the Post that the pandemic has revived suburban luxury markets across the country, places like Greenwich, Stillwater, and Monticito are booming.” Awe, a decoy.
“People can work remote so they’re leaving the chaos of the crowded cities for the quaint villages and towns, that makes sense.” I return with a cross court shot.
“We’ll never leave Campbell.” He spikes it.
“Never.” That’s a wipe.
Having been in a settled relationship for decades gives us a unique advantage because we’ve already overcome being bored with each other, many a time I might add.
As you know I excel at being stale, but a willingness to try something new, take a risk, maybe a trip to Idaho is all Larry. He’s always brought a sense of adventure to our relationship and for this I am grateful. I realize I have to continue developing my own interests because boredom is not about my spouse, it’s a reflection of my own interests, or lack there of.
Larry says, “want to go for a walk?”
“It’s supposed to rain.”
“That’s not lethal.”
I say, “let me grab my rubber boots,” look at me, agreeing to a walk with the prospect of rain, that seems risky?
As we’re starting our second loop drops start to fall from the laden clouds, I lift the hood of my jacket and pull it over my hair, shoving my cold hands deep into my pockets. I feel the tattered remains of a tissue along with two twenty dollar bills that Jill gave me last week so I wouldn’t be stranded. I consider the comfort of real money in my hand, as opposed to credit cards, security should be tangible.
Scanning the horizon, it’s the trees that pose the most startling change for me, winter has striped them of their leaves, so now the distant mountain comes into view, aspects of which where formerly concealed. It’s like aging, as the garnets of our youth fall away (I did not say garments), I’m able to see into the distance without distractions, and in my opinion, the view only increases in value. I marvel how the seasonal shifts mare the landscape, naked limbs, moist soil, the intimacy of the clouds caressing the rugged mountain. Life is sensual.
In a way limitations become gifts as we age, I mean now that I’ve reconciled myself with death (well at least the fact it’s our only option), I’m free to live with less burdens. We carry so much into adulthood, as if our value were based on our possessions, the status of our relationships, and those bills in my pocket. The restrictions are false but nevertheless I fear the thought of leaving them behind. I wonder if I’ll feel the same about the COVID restrictions once they’re lifted?
Sylvia Townsend Warner says, “it is best as one grows older to strip oneself of possessions, to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.” If we met in real life, Sylvia and I would not be friends.
We return to the house, wet, saturated, the sun still out of reach.
I’m Living in the Gap, avoiding the boredom, reaching for more.
- “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” Robert Frost“
- Wisdom comes with winters” Oscar Wilde
- “Strange to be almost fifty, no? I feel like I just understood how to be young.” “Yes! It’s like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won’t ever be back.” Andrew Sean Greer