For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seriously limiting my time on the computer. The reasons are many. The first and primary one is that I live in a 200+ year old house divided into apartments, and so window air-conditioning units are my only relief on hot and humid days. My living room and bedroom each have a unit, but the spare bedroom (where my desk is) and kitchen, both of which are towards the back of the apartment, do not. It doesn’t take long, no matter that it cools down at night, for this area of the apartment to get warm. So, early mornings are the time I spend here, except for an occasional check-in for emails.
Another reason is that I’d subconsciously become aware of using the computer as an ‘escape’ from what life is these days in terms of the ongoing pandemic and political rhetoric. It’s become an alternative to what little social life I used to have.
Anyhow, I’ve chosen to make an effort to get back to reading, a hobby I’ve always enjoyed. In the past three weeks, I’ve read my way through nine books, and I’m enjoying getting back into it. I admit, I read for escape as well, but it’s a more enjoyable adventure because each book has different characters and a different storyline. I’m also a little excited to see my TBR (to be read) pile of books become an almost manageable amount again. For me, ‘almost manageable’ means that, at this rate, I can empty the pile in a year’s time!
Because I still become physically fatigued late afternoon, and there’s nothing on TV I care to watch, I also spend some time just sitting comfortably with my eyes closed and letting my mind wander. And boy, has it been all over the place recently!
Most of my mind wanderings travel in rather obscure paths, starting in one place and ending up in a place that only makes sense to its internal directions. I’ve thought mostly about people – people from my past – like ex-colleagues and friends I’ve moved past from. It sometimes gives me pause to think about people who were so important in my life at one time and who I would have no clue how to find these days anymore. I was telling my BFF recently that I’ve been a maid-of-honor in two weddings, and for the life of me, I have no clue where either of those people are.
My mind has also delved back into previous work environments and colleagues who became friends, some who remained simply great colleagues. It is meeting up again with those great colleagues, however, which also brings me angst. For all of those years of wearing my mask, of portraying only who I thought I should be in any given situation, I wonder how many of them would be surprised (and possibly horror-stricken) of who I am today. I’ve mellowed in a lot of ways, but I’ve also become more clearly tunnel-visioned in ways as well. I’m more accepting and less judgmental in so many ways, but my tolerance for words and actions that are a waste of breath and energy has lessened significantly as well.
I actually enjoy my mind’s wanderings these days, as they tend to travel to specific people, places and events which, however lightly, have left a mark on me. I often think about my weekends of camping and the comradery that was among the group of us who had permanent sites and rarely missed a weekend. I think about vacations that I remember from childhood, and about people who were friends of my parents whom I also adored dearly. Someone recently posted a photo on social media of a 5-gallon bucket of green beans harvested from their garden, and that made me remember sitting with my grandma on her back porch cleaning green beans from her garden. That led to thinking about how our meals when produce was available were centered around that produce. Corn-on-the-cob wasn’t a side dish – it was a meal! Green beans with a few potatoes and a small piece of ham were a meal for several days! Cherry puddin’, which was actually a cake, in a bowl with milk and sugar was a meal! Ah, I miss those!
No matter how often I go back to childhood memories, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine how we managed without air-conditioning! I know we did, at least for the first 10 years of my life, but I can’t picture me as a little girl being okay with being so sweaty! And yet, as I think about it now, I can still recall being bundled up in a dress with pants underneath (removed with our coats and other outerwear, trudging to elementary school when it was cold out. Why one and not the other?
I sometimes think, more sadly though, of the various men in my life, and do sometimes wonder what’s become of them. It’s funny to me that, when I think about them, I have to consciously force myself to remember that they, too, have aged over these years. I wonder what they might think of me now, through all of the introspection and self-growth I’ve been through, and wonder if they’d like me more or less than they liked me way back when. That’s a struggle for me at times – although far from being pretty, I had my share of boyfriends (later to become male friends when boy sounded too childish) and I know in my heart that the reason the majority of those relationships didn’t stand the test of time is because I sabatoged them (story for another time, perhaps). This is yet another thought that rambles through my head some evenings.
Ironically, happy or sad, I’m glad I’m revisiting these memories. No, I don’t see a bright light ahead and my life is passing before me. It’s more about noticing how many wonderful people, places and events gave me those memories, and cherishing them anew and perhaps in different ways.
Do you ever let your mind go back and feast on this type of memory?