“There will be a quiz on Friday,” announced the biology teacher. The classroom came instantly to order.
My life is not orderly or it does not seem so to me. Life is organized insofar as I know what’s coming and when, but orderly? Is it the same thing but with a different title?
I have a lot of shelves carefully laid out with various items, old, older, and not so old. But they are laid out by size, shape, and how well they coördinate with other things. I balance the pictures on the walls. I carefully place things on the mantel so they look “a certain way.” But orderly? I’m not sure I know how to put things in order. Does stowing all “important” papers in a big bin count?
It’s worrisome. The books are in the bookcase, but attempts at creating order have never been effective. The same goes for DVDs and CDs. They are in the case … but order?
I know Garry and I tried to agree on what “order” might be. Do we set things up alphabetically? Do we put items together by genre? All science fiction here and the westerns over there? What about all those “other” books that never really fit anywhere. Will we remember to put them back in the order from which they came?
Oh, wait. My kitchen is almost in order and my dishes are definitely in order. That’s it. Dishes. Got it.
In an endless attempt to clean up and store all the extra stuff in life, the final polish is to put it away permanently — by finding a place for it which will be forever safe.
In the course of organizing my pictures, I lost this one. I have no idea how. I must have deleted it, but I didn’t do it on purpose. Maybe while I was setting up a new computer and transferring files, this one fell between the chairs? Or got lost in some device, like maybe an ancient hard drive that no longer works. Or on an old DVD or floppy disk. Regardless, it is gone. I really liked it.
I have this picture because once upon a time, I printed this on canvas. I gave the picture away, but before I gave it away, I took a picture of the picture.
I lose things.
It’s not new. I have always had a habit of putting important items – papers, jewelry, lenses, cameras — in a safe place. Because, for some inexplicable reason, I have decided wherever it was, wasn’t safe enough. The problem is, wherever it previously was will be the place I remember it being. I will not remember the new, safer place I put it. If, indeed I put it anywhere and didn’t just put it down, go do something else, and forget about it.
The new, improved place to which I move it is guaranteed to be a place I will never remember. It’s also possible I move things in my sleep. Yes, I sleepwalk. I know this because other people have seen me sleepwalking. Also, there are other things that only make sense if I did them in my sleep. No rational (or waking) explanation is possible.
The jewelry I found in the bottom of Garry’s underwear drawer? I’m pretty sure he didn’t put my necklace there. In any conscious state of mind, I would never put anything there, other than his underwear. Or, for that matter, the bundle of jewelry I discovered in the piano bench. Why would anyone put their jewelry in the piano bench? Even me?
The worst losses are accidental. I have something important in my hand. I need to do something else, so I put down. Temporarily. Life moves on. I meant to go back and deal with it, but … it’s gone. Where did I leave it? Sometimes, I can find items by retracing my steps. I start by remembering in which room I picked up the thing. Where I went next and after that. Occasionally, this actually results in finding the missing piece. Mostly, it doesn’t, probably because the retracing was imperfect. And I forget about pockets. How many there are and how much stuff you can shove into them.
Lost stuff can appear years later while I am hunting down something else that has gone missing. It can be a thrilling discovery … or it’s a duplicate of papers I’ve already replaced.
A couple of friends of mine recently became widows. One of them strongly recommended I put our papers in order. Things like the deed to the house. Our birth certificates. I don’t have to worry about dealing with our fortune since there is none. In fact, it turns out all we will need — either of us — will be our birth certificates, social security cards, and a few passwords. One sheet of paper in a manila envelope. I don’t even have to worry about the money needed to bury one or both of us because there is no such money. Presumably, we’ll get buried, one way or the other. Garry and I discussed this, then realized there was nothing we could do about it. He’s too old for life insurance and I’m too sickly to get any. We agreed to stop worrying about it because there’s no point in worrying about something you have no power to change. Anyway, I figure the state has to do something with our bodies. I don’t think it’s legal to just leave us lying around.
Too bad we aren’t allowed to be buried on our own property. We’ve more than enough room and our earth would be happy to have us.
I’m still searching for the missing picture. Not all the time, but every time I’m in one of my storage drives. It may turn up, someday. Or not.
Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Garry has our birth certificates and our passports. As for the deed, probably the bank has a copy from whenever they took over our mortgage. Maybe they’ll make a copy for us if we ask nicely.
If imagination and curiosity don’t count as senses, then I’ll have to go with sight. Of my senses, it gets the most use by far. My hearing is decent too. Not as good as it was when I was younger, but for my age, better than most. Compared to my husband, it’s fantastic. These days, I do miss the soft sounds like the beeping of a machine, the buzz of the washer or dryer in the basement. Small sounds were louder quite recently Only during the last year have they started to become hard to hear.
Oh well. At least I see pretty well. Actually, according to the eye doctor, excellent. That’s something, right?
Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)
That would depend. I am a relentless, hyper-active, powerful sneezer. Once I get started, I keep going until Garry has to run screaming from the room and the dogs are outside, looking for some peace and quiet. Otherwise, maybe Doc. I always seem to have a fix for something or other.
If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?
As long as I get to keep my current brain, I’d go with 30. Strong, agile, but past the bubble-headed twenties. But having a 30-year-old brain? No, I don’t think so. I’d rather be physically old than mentally young. I don’t know why people think old people aren’t smart. It’s the smartest part of life.
List of jobs you think you might enjoy: even if you aren’t thinking about a career change, it can be fun to think of other jobs you might enjoy. [Remember: This is SYW where even your dreams can become reality.]
I will take retirement, thank you, regardless of whatever job preceded it. I could be a retired actress. Then everyone would want to listen to my stories. Whatever I was, just give me retirement. And a computer, so I can write. Quality cameras, books, movies, dogs, a couple of good friends. And Garry.
An awful lot of people seem endlessly fascinated by childhood, especially their own childhood. Maybe it was such a wonderful time that they will forever regret leaving it. Maybe it was their best of times. For them, the grown-up world has never been able to compete. Maybe, with the passing years, even if childhood wasn’t all that great, it has achieved a retrospective perfection that was not present during the original experience.
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Hanging on on horseback
Regardless, it wasn’t the best of times for me. I was glad to get out of it alive. I have never had any interest in revisiting it. At this point, thanks to the passage of time, much of it is a fuzzy around the edges. The earliest memories are just plain fuzzy all the way from beginning to end.
Everyone had a childhood. I think by the time you’re entitled to pensions and senior services, it’s time to move away from the delights of childhood and find something wonderful in the grown up world.
It’s where we all come from, but it’s not where we’re going. Most of life is adulthood. I prefer it. I like the adult me a lot better than the kid me.
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