Standing in my usual place in the back row of Step Class, I realized that after my year’s absence everything was exactly the same. It was as if I stepped into a time machine and went back one year into the past. The same instructor was teaching the same class with the same music and several of the students were the same ones that had been taking the class with me for ten years.
As I entered the class, some looked at me as if they knew I’d been absent, but weren’t sure for how long. Some acknowledged that it had been awhile, and asked where I’d been. I attended that class most weeks for ten years. How is it possible that I was gone for a year and they either hadn’t noticed or didn’t care or were simply oblivious. Since I’m usually the only African American in the class, you’d think they’d notice my absence or my return. Even if they weren’t sure how long I’d been gone, you’d think they’d at least be curious and ask where I had been. Like Ellison’s book… am I the Invisible Woman.
Then I realized that I’m part of the problem. After all those years attending class with the same core group of women, we never reached out to get to know one another. We knew one another by sight and we knew not to encroach on each other’s favorite spot in class, but that’s all we knew.
I had a similar realization in the grocery store where I’ve shopped for fifteen years. I’ve seen the same workers in that store for years, yet I’ve never even spoken to them unless I needed something. So, I’ve taken the first step… I spoke to the guy in the produce department at the local Giant. He looked surprised that I said hello without asking for something, but he smiled and acknowledged my greeting.
From now on… I will make an effort to get to know the people that I interact with on a regular basis. Like Cheers… I want everybody to know my name.
The PC is a drug. I pass by the door of my home office and decide to pop in to check on a recipe, or a movie schedule or anything and the next thing I know… I’m surfing the web. One thing literally leads to another and another… until I’m sucked in. An hour or more has passed and I’ve forgotten what I was doing when I passed by. Ahhh!!
The PC has taken over my life and I can’t seem to break free because everything I do is on the Internet! My garden needs weeding and filing is piling up along with laundry that needs to be folded, but the PC beckons and sucks me in. I use the computer to pay bills, check on insurance estimates, get a copy of a check from the bank, locate contractors and on and on. Everything I need is on the computer!
This is the ultimate love-hate relationship. On the one hand, I wonder how on earth I ever got information before the Internet. On the other hand, before the PC (BPC), I took time to sit quietly and read a “real” book (as opposed to one of those Kindle or IPAD things). I would use the telephone to call and track down information, and I would spend hours in the garden.
Now that I’ve become a Droidite things have gotten worst. Now I can be on the Internet anytime wherever there’s a WIFI connection! I’ve become my kids!
I am exhausted. I run from project to project while squeezing in all the fun that my body can handle. In the last month, I spent two weeks creating a “Mauve me space” out of a guest room which included making the window dressing. Then I spent two weeks prepping for a renovation project of a rental property. On top of that, I am determined to exercise, which takes an hour-and-a-half out of a day and of course we have to remember to “have fun.” (Note: According to my husband… fun translates to dancing.) It is like a frantic game show where if I don’t beat the incessantly ticking clock then I lose. In actuality, always trying to beat the clock can be a sure way to lose sight of what is important.
One day I caught a glimpse of what had been right before me but I did not see. I had not noticed the beautiful sky on my morning walk to get the paper (but, now I do). I no longer heard the song birds and I payed scant attention to the squirrels scampering through the tree tops (but now I do). Recently I watched a summer thunder storm from our bedroom window.
Now I have a “transitional moment” to relax, but I’ve been fighting it. Like many others, I am between jobs. It doesn’t matter that this is a voluntary state. What matters is the psychic outcome. I’m in search of fulfillment that comes from a job well done.
Even though I say I want to work, I have noticed that I’m not doing much to make it happen. Ordinarily, I would be obsessing. I would be churning out resumes, networking like crazy, or working out a new entrepreneurial venture. So why aren’t I? As with all situations, there is never one answer. Aside from the obvious answers of I’ve worked hard and I desire a rest; or, I don’t want to work long hours again; or, I’m tired of doing the same type of work.
Maybe the real answer is my inability to relax into the ebbs of life. We need to take a lesson from nature with its sunrises and sundowns, and more importantly… the ebbs and flows of the oceans. The ebbs and the sundowns are essential. It is there that we recharge, replenish and recreate.
Even today, when I am psychologically (and physically) ready to relax, I have to prep for three days of “working travel” for our renovation project followed by a short contract doing proposal review. But I promise myself after that to “relax into the ebb”.
While living the UAE, I was constantly observing how incredible it was to live in such an exciting, multicultural space. Last night, my husband and I took our niece out to a salsa dance party in downtown Washington DC. (She’s the one in the picture with her shoulders out. Oh… to be young again.) I was recovering from an allergic reaction to a medication, which offered an opportunity to observe the crowd instead of being part of the crowd. I sat on the fringe of the crowd on the rooftop of the Hilton overlooking the cityscape of downtown Washington on a perfect, starlit, 85 degree night. I was amidst an incredible multicultural crowd dancing to a live salsa band and wondered why did I have to leave for a year in order to discover what was right before my eyes. How come I never saw this before. It was as if, I was blinded by my expectations. I expected to see the Washington that I grew up in. The Washington that was conservative and Black and White.
Everything has changed before me, but I did not see. I missed the new generation entering the scene and changing everything. I missed the transformation of the “Black Downtown” as it became the new “it spot”. Last week, to see for ourselves, my hubby and I hung out listening to free, live jazz at Café Nemo on U Street.
I still miss living and playing along the Persian Gulf, but a quick glance at the Washington Post, Weekend section is positive proof that DC (aka DMV) is the new playground. New Yorkers will no longer complain that the town goes to bed too early.
As part of my quest to “bring adventure into our lives” and “get out of our ruts” and to “do different things”, my hubby and I took a 14.5 mile round trip bike ride along the Potomac River enroute to Mount Vernon. Now this may not sound so adventurous or exciting for most, but we hadn’t been on a bike for two years. We had actually planned on biking with friends but we overslept and then discovered a flat tire on one of our bikes, which turned out to be fortuitous because our friends ended up riding 26 miles.
Twenty-six miles on a bike is not a big deal for those folk you see with the colorful bike shirts who are hunched over their bikes in the shape of a U (also known as guerilla riders), but when one hasn’t ridden for two years, even 14 miles is a long distance.
I used to be a guerilla rider. In fact, I was training for a 300 mile ride until my father got sick. My husband reminded me that was at least six years ago. I remember the first training session for the 300 miler was a 20-mile warm-up ride after a winter of inactivity. It was tough, but I was able to do it. My brain doesn’t acknowledge the passage of time. It says “yes I can”, but my body says “no you can’t.”
One day has passed now since the bike ride. The swelling in my knee has gone down and my back has just about stopped aching from bending over the handlebars, and we are preparing for a sunset, moonlight kayaking trip this evening. My brain is saying “you go girl!”, while my body is saying buy Bengay before you go.