Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Love When Everything Stops

I told my friend Jen, a little too gleefully, that I secretly enjoy cancelling things.  She was nonplussed.  And I understand that response.  She has been teaching me how to ride horses again, after a 30-year hiatus.  And as you might guess, people tend to cancel their scheduled riding lessons with casual frequency.

Kids get sick, sports conflict, child-care falls through...There are a hundred good reasons, but occasionally an adult rider simply forgets, until five minutes past the lesson hour when they are ensconced in the bathroom-decor aisle of the Super Target, that they had a lesson at all.

So I back pedaled as fast as I could, on a horse.

It wasn't that I liked cancelling things.  I liked it when things were cancelled.  I liked acts of God, when the scheduled activities of the day are dry-erased because of snow conditions or wind chill warnings.

One of my favorite memories is New England's blizzard of '78.

A snow drift reached the second story of my house.

We had to evacuate to a friend's house.

School was canceled for a week.

We lived in Swampscott, eleven miles north of Boston, and a short walk to the Atlantic ocean, which boiled over our fortifications and poured into the streets.

Folks strapped on skis, snow boots, snow shoes.  They tied small children to sleds and trudged or skied into a hushed and humbled seashore town knocked back a hundred years.  To my way of thinking, it had never looked more beautiful.

Debbie, who gave us refuge, had a fireplace.  She rolled newspaper into tight wands that ignited a toastyand crackling hearth. She made beef Stroganoff  with sour cream and mushroom soup,egg noodles, and steak.

By day, there was a steady back-beat of Jackson Brown, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Linda Ronstadt.

In the evening, there was Motown and Jimmy Cliff.

Deb taught me the jitterbug.

We turned on the news every night to get the latest on the storm, school closings, and Gov. Mike Dukakis's sweaters.  He had a great collection of pullover sweaters in a variety of colors.  This is the only example of Dukakis in a sweater that I could find on Google.  He was much younger in 1978, but this is a nice sweater.

Sometimes, like right now, as a writing person, I have to carve out time to sit and type.  Sometimes, like right now, that involves not doing something else, (like going to church).  It almost always involves trying to get some distance on my subject--pulling away from it--in order to see it more clearly.

Having everything in one's life temporarily suspended affords me the guilt-free luxury to get that perspective, and the time to sit down and type about it.

Of course, I regret the catastrophic implications of severe weather.  I don't mean to turn a blind eye to it, or to gape with rapacious curiosity.

(On the other hand, in moments of pending disaster, aren't we all more aware of those who are most vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and circumstance?  Do they suffer so much less at other times, when we are not looking?)

It doesn't have to be the weather, of course.  It could be illness within my own family.  Assuming a manageable case of the flu, not involving the stomach, I'm all for it.  Let's cancel everything and stay home. Let's hunker down, take long naps, watch movies, and drift aimlessly through the hours.

I'll spend the day with my son, or I'll spend it alone but not lonely, uncomfortable but not miserable, convalescing on the couch, snuggled up to a dog.

Proust spent most of his waking life and writing hours in bed.

Winston Churchill, you may be surprised to learn, didn't rise from his bed until called upon to do so for a meeting that could not occur within the confines of his own bed chambers.

He was very productive in bed, Churchill.  There, he ate, drank coffee, dictated all manner of communications, and engaged in strategy and decision-making at the highest level.

It can be a productive life style, staying in bed.  At one time, it was the privilege of achievers; today, it is considered a hallmark of clinical depression.

I am writing from the couch.

I should really go douse the kitchen floor with adhesive remover, walk the dogs in the blistering cold, and then commence scraping the glued-on layer of cardboard that had been somehow nuked onto the sub-flooring byone of this house's previous owners.

In any case, Whosie, the kitten on my lap, has become an obstruction.

One must go, and do what one must.

Oh, but I do love stopping!

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