Lonliness can crop up most unexpectedly. It will throw a dart at you unexpectedly. After days of being solitary, for instance, happily reading, researching, and writing, feeling fortunate for living on Cape Cod where Jose produced wind and rain, a little loss of power, but not much more. There were six days of grey weather, but this morning, though the sea was covered in fog, the sun was out. Then, there it came, just a general feeling of missing family, and time stretching out, and a sense of what have I not accomplished. You know this mood, which is not based on reality, but might be a combination of low sugar, and working by oneself. You know the mood will pass, it always does, and in my fifties, it passes much more quickly. But here like a beacon came my cat, circling my feet, purring, and begging to be picked up. I did, and ate dinner, cheered.
I had made a simple summer squash stir-fry with rice. I was going to add a tomato, but the tomato was full of sprouting seeds. This is a process called vouvray–no, I joke–let me look it up–it is called vivipary, and the seedlings can be planted to produce tomato plants, if it wasn’t about to be October, or if you had a greenhouse. Dinner and research. Here are some recommendations: this movie; this book; this music, all of which was recommended to me by family and friends. Now, please go eat something and do some research.
I still my check my mailbox for a last minute call, but no, it looks like I will not be teaching this semester. All the regular profs are back on campus, returned from sabbatical and guest posts, leaving me with a free fall. Pun intended. Yet, not quite accurate. I’ve got some writing to do, and a little travel, too. Still, how strange not have felt the general anxiety over the booklist (wanting to change everything at the last minute), the chagrin that not all the typos on the syllabus were caught, and frantic scheduling of office hours to coincide with bus schedules. O the commute! No more six hours of travel, no more skipping lunch for a big dinner once home, no more grabbing snacks at Starbucks( I’ll take those almonds too.)
I find I am sitting on the balcony, staring into space, recharging unconsciously. The garden does not need tending. I vacuum, wash dishes, do the laundry, scold my cat for jumping onto the tv. Why does she do it again and again? Has she decided that in fact this is her “playtime”? I am clearing the cobwebs, cleaning the windows, reading and taking notes.
My father had a government job once. On the first day (let’s say it was his first day) he retrieved the mail. An hour or two later, he had opened and answred everything, and taken care of the tasks requested of him. He went to his boss, and asked for more to do.
“What about the mail?” asked his boss.
“I did it already.”
“What! Today is only Monday. Listen, you are new to the way we work. You get the mail on Monday, and on Tuesday, you answer a letter; and on Wednesday, answer the next letter; and so on until the week is done!”