September 18, 2017 (Monday)

by Yule Heibel on September 17, 2018

Monday, Monday. For me the days don’t change. Even Sundays are full of work – cooking, cleaning and tidying, cooking cooking cooking again (followed by cleaning up, again). I wonder in what mythical universe, apparently inaccessible to me, people run downstairs and around the corner to pick up something to eat. No, my life is punctuated by car trips to the SUPER market to lay in supplies, and of course the daily chore of conjuring a meal, healthy and tasty, obsessional around something that finicky eaters will eat and which won’t upset the balance on the scales the next day. The latter is one reason we eat out rarely, in relative terms.

For W. this day starts another workday chain, and he’ll say that he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to (or want to) do this. But when I consider his situation from the perspective of mine, it seems to me he’s making an error, thinking like that. In effect, the work – the fact that he works with interesting colleagues on interesting and actually important things, in an office located in one of the more interesting downtown neighborhoods where he can go for coffee, people-watch briefly, get some exercise walking from station to office and back: all this – is actually what contributes to making his life worth it. It’s not hanging around at home reading or making tea. It’s not this town, where we have no family (nor found a “tribe” of divergent types). The stark reality is that, while getting up way too early to hit the weekday grind of “gotta get the train,” which means you have this sense of not owning even a second of your precious coming-into-your-day time, the job is not the problem. The problem is that as far as I can see he has nothing aside from the job (by which I mean broadly speaking the career itself and all the trappings of value – and being valued – that come with it). Sure, he has me. But I have the full measure of what it means when your career is over, when there’s just one person in your daily orbit to give your life its meaning because you’ve got nothing much else going on. It’s not ideal. It really isn’t. We really should be living in a different city, I think. We’re never going to be the people who find meaning at the golf club, meeting “friends” for a game on the links. Or any of the other things – including perhaps church or temple – which the suburbanites do, including engaging in the non-diverse same-same political groupthink everyone here buys into. Oh, I get tired of turning this topic over. I don’t want to sound like an ingrate (don’t be Cain – be Abel instead!), and there are many things I’m grateful for. I even am grateful that I have the means and the skill and talent to cook all those meals I turn out daily: I’m a regular kitchen star. But this place, and the fact that it’s so far from where my children are, and that people are so entrenched in their curiously stolid, traditional New England ways, …all those things make it hard.

It’s another morning of solid fog out there.

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