I sip my morning brew and stare out the window waiting for my mental faculties to spring to life. “Spring” may be a strong word. Perhaps “casually saunter in with its own blurry eyes and half-filled coffee cup” would be more apt.
There are children on my lawn. They aren’t my children. They are neighborhood children going after the ball that went too far in the wrong direction. If I were any of my brothers I’d already be out there with a grimacing look and a garden hose. But I’m me, so I head back to the kitchen.
I love Starbucks frappuccino but I can’t afford the calories so I make my own with a shot of espresso and an almost sugarless chocolate soymilk. I never thought much about the process I went through getting to just the right mix for just the right flavor, but it occurred to me this morning I could measure my day by the number of times I brew my concoction. I suppose coffee drinkers do something similar with each tip of the pot.
Everything is ready of a morning so I can go about my business without opening my eyes. It’s rather Zen-like the way I prepare for the person I’ll be the next day, the disheveled lady who isn’t firing on all cylinders until she’s been awake for at least an hour. Mine is now a simple routine that minimizes complications and maximizes efficiency and production:
Brew, read the morning paper and solve the Cryptoquip. Brew, read my email. Brew, get dressed and go to work. Brew, work. Brew, work. Lunch. Brew, work. Brew, work. Leave work. Help my youngest child with her homework. A few chores. Greet husband. Eat dinner. Chat with husband and child. Bedtime.
Ahh, the simple life.
There are of course deviations on this norm — bill paying once a month, weekend gardening and home maintenance, and the occasional so-expensive-it-feels-like-a-punch-in-the-stomach car or appliance repair — but for the most part it is me and my way of doing things. It’s a pity this kind of simplicity can’t be taught in schools. No, really, it can’t be.
As a teenager and young adult, my life was all about action, reaction, and sometimes drama. I see no difference in the desires and energy of the younger set today. Simplicity and routine spell certain doom and threaten a social coma from which one would never, one fears, return if one ventured to act 40 at the ripe old age of 20. Even well into my 30s my life was about my job, my husband’s deployments, our children’s activities, and our moving, going, and being. It was non-stop and I loved just about every minute of it.
I didn’t like the idea of getting older, slowing down, or — heaven forbid — turning into my parents. They were cerebral and active, but they were also boring and their interests were limited, if not downright myopic. Alas, here I am – cerebral, active, and downright myopic. I’m not boring, though, and as I have come to realize, neither are my parents.
I suppose my desire to avoid their fate was borne out of the fear that it had been forced upon them by aging bodies and what I suspected had become less interested and apathetic minds. It had to be. No one would decide to be that way, would they?
I didn’t know, and no one told me: one day you will want to take it easy because you’ll finally realize all the stuff you were so stressed out about never happened. You’ll want to ease into a routine of your own making because it’s not about cool or uncool; it’s about comfort. And you’ll want to stop and smell the roses because you grew them yourself.
I had a good run, mind you. From the time I was 16-years-old (and was smuggled into a nightclub by my 21-year-old boyfriend) until very recently, I went dancing with friends about once a month except when I was pregnant and for a few months after each child was born. Because of our many military moves, I held all manner of jobs most would not even apply for because, well, I could.
I drove like a bat out of hell from my husband’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida to our military home of Havelock, North Carolina just to see if I could beat his six-hour, 45-minute record. I did, much to his dismay, and with a warning from a Georgia State Trooper who ceded to my wee children’s backseat inquiry, “Are you taking my mommy to jail?” They got peaches and ice cream at the next stop, and once home, I never drove like that again.
I partied like a rock star for 30 years. Well, maybe rock star-like. It sure wasn’t my full-time job and I still have my dignity. There were no compromising Polaroids of me swimming around the underworld just waiting for the Internet to come along and highlight my weaker moments of bad judgment and iffy dips into the dating pool.
It’s funny to hear people my age lamenting the way kids these days (there, I said it) use technology to track their every movement, good and bad, as if we wouldn’t have done the same with the same stuff. It may well be, however, that the technology kids now use with such abandon will be the first thing they put down in 20 or 30 years in their inevitable quest for a little peace and quiet. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if in those decades to come, they texted their friends about the kids on their lawn.