What I scribbled out was “has the pandemic made me lazy or has it been a gift of contentment and getting to know who I am?” While I’ve had those days of total boredom … screaming in my head that I want to take a trip somewhere…Key West, Italy, Walmart… the gift I’ve received is being locked up in my house rather than my mind for nearly a year and having the opportunity to get to know what I want and what I think minus all of the key turns of the ignition of the car.
I near the anniversary of my retirement which is also the day He and I left work, loaded up 5 cats, 3 large dogs and our last bits of our life in Iowa, drove 4 hours to our new life in Missouri. The emotions were raw…the excitement, the fear, second guessing if we were doing the right thing, realizing its too late to turn back now, sister, we are doing this! I remember feeling such relief…anonymity awaits. I could wear sleep pants and forgo makeup to go shopping because I will not know anyone. No small talk will be required at the grocery store because I won’t know anyone.
So it would seem pandemic quarantining is exactly what I had been craving. I’ve had the opportunity to just be. To sit on the couch all afternoon and play Words with Friends, to read novels and self help books, to binge watch TV shows. I have groceries delivered, dishes may sit overnight in the sink, I may eat popcorn at 2 in the morning. Isn’t this what I craved since I became a responsible adult with a career!
Because I have nothing urgent to do several hours a day….and I define urgency as drinking too much water in one sitting…I find myself on Facebook….and by “on Facebook”, I mean watching Facebook videos about hair. If we don’t choose wisely, the algorithm insanity states that if we click on one interesting idea that pops up on Facebook, the topic or associated topics become our social media life whether we choose it or not.
I’ve had very long hair, very short hair and hair of various colors and hues. I started coloring my hair when I was 16… I loved playing with my hair…styling it, coloring it, streaking it, sun-in hair lighteners. I’ve been nearly black, chocolate, purple and one unfortunate, very bright apple red/Sunkist orange before a vacation. I thought about being a hair professionally in the 70’s but didn’t take geometry so figured I would suck at angles.
Because I recently was hooked on a 30 minute video of a stylist cutting an older woman’s hair, I’ve been inundated with videos of stylists and hair and hair color and all of the latest toys for anyone with hair. This morning, I watched a stylist comb and part and ponytail and then form a HUGE bun on top of a women’s head. Before this morning I had no idea working hair into a huge bun was even possible. I’m just letting you know as a caution, if you see this video pop up now that I’ve mentioned it, do NOT click on it.
The thought has occurred to me that I wonder if there really was a Repunzel who let down her golden hair..betraying her beloved which caused his fall and blindness. And seriously, from hair we got peeping Toms as “Tom” apparently broke the rules and watched Lady Godiva ride naked through the streets… But most of all now I want to know why and how Godiva chocolate gots it’s name but there is no way I’m going to google it or click on any chocolate cooking videos because I do not need to be inundated with chocolate. I have enough problems!
How many thoughts, beliefs habits do we learn from our parents without even realizing it. In those 18 years of breathing the same air as those who gave birth to us, we learn values, beliefs and habits. Sometimes as adults, we realize the error of those ways or, unfortunately, we may just continue to do what we have been taught…right or wrong…and never break destructive cycles. Other times I think something clicks and we realize that we need to alter the way we think so we set upon a road of discovery….perhaps in our own minds we do this to save the next generation or more likely we just make changes because the learned habit or behavior just does not feel right.
…..and then sometimes something just sticks….like my dad’s mantra…I’m saving it for retirement. Good clothes, boots, plans and dreams. i.e. Dad was given an allowance by his employer for new boots every year….he bought boots….but he put them away for retirement and continued wearing his old boots. Unfortunately when he passed, we cleaned out several pairs of unworn boots. I learned from my mother to put your “good” clothes in the back of the closet so they are there when you need them and wear your faded clothes with stains around the house everyday so you don’t have to worry about ruining them.
I made inroads yesterday accompanied by an eye roll. I needed to take food for a Labor Day gathering. I pulled out the picnic basket (which I’ve had for many years…perhaps a wedding gift 38 years ago 🙄) and some hot pads I bought 20 years ago on a couple trips to Charleston, SC. Yep. they are in perfect condition because to keep them nice, I’ve used towels and cardboard boxes for food transport.
I realized yesterday….how silly this habit is and that I’m probably not normal…blame my parents!
I’ve known for the last few years that I’m not the person I used to be…I stopped laughing…the healthy laugh, I was still smiling and was still using so-called gallows humor to help relieve stress but really laughing about something that tickles you way deep inside – it had stopped. Emergency workers – whether they are EMS personnel, cops, nurses, dispatchers can laugh and eat their way thru a conversation about horrible things…the above mentioned HAVE to laugh their way thru their job or they would totally end their life bonkers swinging from the end of a rope from the top of a high ceiling. I always go back to the story of my shift dispatch partner taking a particularly disgusting call that would make the normal person do a little shiver and shut down. She took the call, got EMS enroute and went back to eating her hamburger. I, who often congratulated myself on my ability to cope, turned to her and said OMG stop eating. It has been a story retold several times in the dispatch center as a stress reliever for someone else taking a particular nasty call that no one should have happen to them, let alone anyone else should have to know about.
It’s the nature of the beast. But years and years of it changes who you are. I found myself being more normal after spending the afternoon with my old friend, Gena. Normal is probably not the appropriate word…but I felt like my old self. I didn’t feel the negativity and the dread in my soul that I so often feel… Waking up on Valentine’s Day, I will be retired. I will be a former 911 operator – it was an incredible career. I will always have my memories. I’ve delivered babies over the phone, I’ve been the very last person to ever speak to someone taking their last breath. I always remember the black lung victim who passed as the ambulance was approaching his door, murders, plane crashes, horrific traffic accidents, house fires and all of the people I have referred to as assholes after hitting release on the phone….many will always be remembered. I’m so glad I’m done…I’m very tired of the ugliness…I hope to put those rose colored glasses back on and laugh until I can’t breath.