Segments of Saturday

The temperature in the house is 65°F, a tad nippy for me but not cold enough to merit reverting the HVAC system to heating. I changed it several days ago to cooling, when outside temperatures climbed well above 80°F. The house was starting to feel like an oven, so I thought the time had come to leave winter behind. But winter kept its claws in us; it’s around 48°F outdoors right now, so the indoor temperature doesn’t seem so cold by comparison. Daytime highs for the next week are forecast to range from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties. I may revert back to heating, yet.  But a sweater and sweat pants may be adequate during waking hours; a blanket is adequate for sleeping, as long as indoor temperatures remain above 60°F.


An ad, attempting to tempt me into entering into a contest to win a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, coupled with an $80,000 conversion, nearly triggered my finger this morning. I was ready to throw reason and rationality to the wind and “register to win.” But I stopped before handing over whatever personal information the contest sponsors hoped I would reveal. I do not need a mini-RV worth $115,000 or more, though I will admit I would love to have one. Tiny kitchen, fresh water filtration, toilet, queen-sized bed, 24.5 gallon gas tank, solar heating and cooling, bike rack, jaba jaba jaba jbab. A little home on wheels that would go with me wherever I choose to go. I could take my home with me to Nova Scotia (if Canada would let me in) or drive to the remote regions of North Dakota or Arizona or New Mexico. I could take my house to desolate beaches on Florida’s west coast. Where, though, might I find seriously desolate, isolated, unmolested stretches of land that would welcome me and my little house on wheels? I don’t know. I’d have to look. But I don’t think I’m ready to throw $115,000 or my personal privacy at the chance to find it. That could change, of course. I change a lot these days. I no longer recognize myself. There’s someone else before my eyes when I look in the mirror. That is not necessarily to say that I despise him; in fact, I may grow to appreciate that new version of a loner, this one more willing to leave everything and everyone behind for a stretch just to see what he’s like truly on his own. Unless, of course, he can’t cope. That would be a disappointment of epic proportions.


Here it is, another day closer to a visit by my long-time friends. When I think of their visit, my desire to leave everything and everyone behind for a stretch just to see what I’m like truly on my own fades into vapor. Instead, I return to a fantasy of living with them in a co-housing arrangement (along with a few like-minded people, perhaps) that would give all of us adequate privacy but in an environment in which we all depend on and are there for one another. I suppose some might consider it a commune of sorts; it’s like a commune for rational people who have abandoned the irrational facets of communal lifestyles in favor of comfort and independence and compassion. Do I change day by day? A little. Like a chameleon on speed, I think. But beneath the swirl of changing exterior appearances, there’s an absolutely reliable, dependable core. Like an apple, it’s surrounded by a fleshy substance subject to softness and rot. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?


My friend and guest is leaving today, having spent a week here. It was truly nice to have someone in the house, but I think a return to a hermit lifestyle for several days will readjust my biorhythm (or whatever it is) to “new normal.” I loathe that phrase. “New normal,” as if normalcy and justifiable paranoia belong together. Of course, my “new normal” has little to do with paranoia and much to do with life under the classification of “survivor.”  That’s another term that, depending on context, can grate on me. It’s almost become a badge of courage that warrants respect, pity, and admiration. Who wants to be considered “courageous” and simultaneously pitied for being thrust into circumstances over which they have absolutely no control? Enough of that. For now.


Have I mentioned that my guest, the one leaving today, brought a French press with her? The coffee that accompanied it is gone, so I’ve been drinking my old standby French roast, but the flavor from that French press may have convinced me to get one. But, do I have the discipline to spend the time and energy to grind and brew coffee every morning, abandoning my Keurig for the French press? I do not know with certainty, but if I know me I’ll bend to sloth and the mediocrity of convenience. I dislike that about myself. Just not enough to change, I suppose.


Today’s news from CNN, a network I’ve come to consider just as biased as FOX News, includes the “stunning” announcement that “Loneliness won’t end when the pandemic ends” and another one that “Cuba’s Raul Castro steps down, ending the era of his famous clan at the country’s helm.”

And AP reports that Kate Rubins, an American astronaut, and two Russian cosmonauts touched down in Kazakhstan this morning. All three had arrived at the International Space Station six months ago, on October 14. Of the seven people remaining on the ISS, another woman, Shannon Walker, is among those who came aboard in November on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience, the first ISS docking under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. I’m pleased that the news article did not focus on the fact that two of the people in the news story are women; I had to notice that for myself. One day, we will not notice anything “special” about the involvement of women or people of color in such projects. It will be no big deal that a physicist like Walker is a key participant in multinational endeavors.  But in the meantime, while our astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are involved in radical cooperation in space, our respective countries are effectively at war over matters whose solutions should be far less complex than traveling to and from an orbiting space station.


Elements of last night’s dream: my church reopening was massively different from what anyone expected. Almost impossible to get stuff stored near the pulpit. Sand everywhere. I could not get the heavier pieces over the edges where the waves were trying to wash away the beachfront. And that’s all.


And in Hot Springs and the State of Arkansas and in the State of Chaos, life goes on.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Segments of Saturday

  1. Marilyn Matzek says:

    Sorry……I failed to mention that it was Labrador that I was referring to.

  2. Marilyn Matzek says:

    I know exactly where you can find seriously desolate, isolated, unmolested stretches of land that would welcome you and your little house on wheels. You will have to take a ferry over from Newfoundland, and it may have changed some since we were there. But, if it’s anything like I remember, it might be just what you’re looking for.

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