Twists and Turns

Yesterday, my wife and I went to Little Rock for lunch. We revised our intended destination, The Fold: Botanas & Bar, when we stopped for gas at a Kroger gas station. We both got out of the car and commented about how pleasant the air felt. Cool, but not too cool, and dry. That was a huge change from the recent wave of hot, humid days and nights. My wife suggested we revise our plans; instead of our originally planned lunch destination, she suggested we go to The Pantry. There, we could sit outside and enjoy a charcuterie board and a glass of wine. And that we did, except for the wine. I ordered a beer, instead. I regretted that decision, but only slightly. I think I would have enjoyed lunch more with a nice dry red wine, but it was just fine with a Founder’s All Day IPA.

We had errands to run while in Little Rock, such as buying groceries. And we made up a couple; we stopped at Mary’s greengrocer stand/shop to buy some fresh okra and we stopped at Colonial Liquor where my wife picked out a gin she had never tried and we selected a couple of bottles of wine.

All in all, the day was enjoyable. I commented to my wife as we sampled Hungarian sausage and smoked pork belly that the experience was considerably more enjoyable than scraping the deck and putting down a new coat of paint. But that chore, the deck rehabilitation, remains. And, so, today That, I will return to the reality of deck recovery.

I invited a friend from days gone by to come visit us recently and she accepted and offered up a couple of dates, but then our schedule went slightly awry with a remembrance service, including house guests who would attend. We’re back on track and I’ve suggested she come on down (she has a Winslow, AR address, but she lives out in the country, away from the few little towns in the area). We await her reply and plans. And our good friends in another part of the state will have returned home by now from a long (both in distance and in time) road trip, so we must try to see them when they recover from being away from home for two months or thereabouts. I look forward to seeing them. I’m almost giddy with excitement at the thought of spending time with her.

I didn’t realize how damn full our schedules are until I started looking at possible dates for getting togther. We have all manner of minor social and other obligations in the coming weeks, though skipping out on any or all of them would not spell the end of the world. But just seeing what we’ve committed to made me realize why I sometimes feel confined and rigidly circumscribed. I miss the freedom that comes with social isolation, I suppose.

That sense of imprisonment-by-calendar gets me cranky. Or that’s what I blame, at the moment, for my crankiness. Freedom from outside obligations is among the most joyous sensations. But I suppose the price of that freedom is the very social isolation that contributes to loneliness.

Loneliness. I wrote an essay about my loneliness a few days ago. I haven’t shared it and probably won’t. Despite my best efforts, I could not adequately describe how one can feel an intense sense of loneliness, even while engaged in a growing number of casual social relationships. It’s the casual nature of those relationships that allows loneliness to grow, I think. Superficial conversations that center on behaviors (what did you do yesterday?) rather than thoughts (how did that experience feel to you?) contribute to loneliness. That sentence seems superficial; lacking real substance. It’s not about how a person feels; it’s about how a person can share the way he thinks with someone who actually gives a shit about the way he thinks. Loneliness is much deeper than social isolation. Social engagement does not necessarily “cure” loneliness. Nor does social isolation bring it about. Loneliness arises, I think, from a lack of the sense that one’s existence is of significant consequence to someone else. Chatty conversations with a dozen people does not quell loneliness.

Holy crap, I really stumbled into a rabbit hole. Obviously, there’s a reason I probably won’t share that essay; its incoherence would be an embarrassment. That’s one of the risks of writing a lot and putting it out there for every passing stranger to see. Every fault, every wart, every blemish spills from the brain onto the keyboard and then to little screens all over the world. That spillage creates the misfortune to be seen without the protection of cosmetic stage makeup. Yet it is freeing, in a way, to expose one’s copious flaws and weaknesses before those defects are pointed out by someone else. It constitutes a public airing of one’s dirty laundry, I suppose. Although, as my decision not to post my essay about loneliness suggests, one’s fragility prevents airing the thread-bare clothing full of rips and tears.

I’m trying to incorporate yesterday’s admonition into my day today: Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better.  I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out reality. And the reality, now, is that I need to prepare breakfast and, then, repair the deck.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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