July 16, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on July 15, 2018

Soon it’s W.’s birthday, and I have nothing planned. There’s a book he said he wants; I should order it. It won’t be a surprise since we share his Amazon account, so he’ll get an email, upon my ordering of it. If I buy anything somewhere else, he’ll see it on our shared credit card statement at the end of the month. We are an old married couple with no surprises. In a way, I prefer it like that because, in general, I’m frightened of surprises. My childhood contained unpleasant, even horrible, surprises aplenty, and I honestly can’t remember surprises powered by love, or joy, or wonder. Or appreciation. So, in short, to my mind no surprises are better than any surprises. But on occasion I do wonder what I’m missing. Romance? A genuine sense of awe? Boundless love? No… I think I prefer the unsurprised life after all. Contemplating what good surprises might do to my stability makes me think they’re best avoided. Meanwhile, I’m mentally always prepared for the worst. It won’t surprise me. I used to think this had something to do with being a dour Capricorn or a stodgy German. Now I think those “woo-woo” as well as “national trait” explanations are pure bullshit, and it really all comes down to childhood conditioning under abuse. That said, I’m not a dour person as such, nor fundamentally a pessimist. If I were, I think I would have killed myself years ago. Good outcomes surprise me as little as bad ones, really. I’m probably just a terribly boring person.

I’m trying to get a hold of B.B., who’s proving to be (typically?) elusive. I need to quiz her on M.’s book, which I can’t honestly review.

I’m dismayed by my own ignorance. I’m unsure of things, even things I try to learn, and they sneak up on me and surprise me, expose my lack of preparation. Irony, for example. Every single simple definition of irony is one I forget. Then I complicate what little I do remember. We’re fixing things around the house. Maybe then we’ll sell it.

Yesterday, as I was slaving away in the garden, a lovely dark-haired couple walked by, complimented me on the house. We chatted – I wanted to talk to them because they looked aesthetic or artsy in a way, not the usual sneakers-and-polo-shirts crowd. He introduced himself and his wife (D. and M. T.). Later I looked them up: a photographer and a music teacher. They’ve lived on P.-Ave. for fourteen years, yet I had never seen them before. It made me think about my rant about boring, uninteresting people in the suburbs: these two seem quite removed from that. But then again, their work constantly takes them elsewhere, away from where they live. The key, I guess, is getting out enough, having connections, friends in the city (who in turn maybe travel there from yet other suburbs than one’s own). It’s still all very shredded and torn apart, though: centrifugal, everyone living on the outskirts, whether in small satellite cities or outright suburbs, traveling traveling traveling to get together.

I saw a thread on Twitter about ideal, “sticky” streets where people mix and congregate. It then made me think of the restaurant in Terminal E at Logan Airport, where you often find a really interesting mix of people, and how it’s not a prerequisite (any longer?) that stranger-interestingness happens in public space. Could be private spaces, too. We have no levers. The private eats the public.

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