Monday, June 25, 2012

Mama Cass and I

 This is one of my long weekends. I'd decided before summer got going that I was not going to hoard vacation days for an unseen purpose; I was going to treat the summer with the school-holiday reverence it deserved. My trip to Montreal as already accounted for, so I took my remaining vacation days and spread them through the summer so that I'd have a number of three-day weekends.

It's one of the best Ideas I've ever had. Seriously, three-day weekends are better than one big vacation. No pile of work the day I return, and my weekends feel really restful and full without being rushed. I have time.

And I've returned to considering my original reason for moving to Chicago: in Boston I'd gotten fed up with being alone all the time, doing things solo. I figured that in Chicago, if I were going to be alone I would at least have more things to do.

So I'm trying to put aside the difficulty I've had in keeping close friends. Oh, I meet and make friends, but they drift off or are already overextended with existing social commitments. I thought C-- was going to be my best friend here but she has inexplicably stopped calling and started hanging out with a neighbor of mine. There's no hostility, and we see each other still sometimes, but I feel like I've been broken up with and I'm not sure why.  It all feels very Middle School.

So I took a hard look at what was making me unhappy, and at the heart of it is that I've been asking people to be something they're not. Getting angry because people don't want to try a suggestion or enjoy a radio show or have any political passion or come see a live band is pointless, but that's what I've been doing, and it's been making me crazy and angry. I remembered that my goal is not to change people but to just do what I like, even if it's alone, and that will make me much happier. It's arrogant of me to expect people to change to please me, but it's also OK for me to go my own way when I can't get some compromise.

So Saturday I went to the shelter and hung out there. It was a good day, and I helped a woman deal with some rabbit questions and convinced her to transport her rabbit in a carrier (we had some donated) and not on her lap in the car (!!!!)

I need some new clothes, so I went to a for-profit thrift store that was open until 9 pm and tried on a lot of stuff, most if it unsuitable for me. In the Girls' aisle, I saw a  ton of dresses that I thought The Girl (twin) would like. As I poked through the dresses, I thought about how much fun it would be to take The Girl shopping -- she LOVES clothes, and I know she'd have a blast. I thought how satisfying it would be to have a simple interaction that allowed me to please someone, and how hard it's been to please someone or impress them. To feel remarkable.

This morning C, K and I walked to the farmers' market, stopping at the Twins' house on the way so I could deliver my goods. Their dad was on the porch, the front door open. I stuck my head inside and could hear the kids' voices upstairs.

"Dad!" called The Girl.

"Hey! What's happening?" I called up.

"I'm calling my Dad."

"He's on the porch. What do you need?"

"I need my bum wiped."

I trotted up the stairs. The Girl stood, bottomless, in the hallway at the bathroom door. The boy was also on the landing. I offered to do the honors, and then I got to see their beds and received a detailed explanation of how The Girl's music box worked.

The boy demonstrated how he could put his head in the laundry basket.

I told them I had some stuff for them, and we went downstairs and sat on the bottom steps while I handed out the clothes. The Girl went to show her father, and the boy sat with me.

"I'd have preferred toys rather than clothes," he said matter-of-factly.

"I know, Pal, but I was at a clothes shop, not a toy store. Still, you got a couple of cool shirts. A crocodile and a bug!"

He laughed and we went outside. The Girl was trying on her dresses; they were a little large and, as I suspected, the non-pink was not a hit despite being covered in apples. The other dress, though, large purple/pink flowers on a white background, was a success.

"The flowers match my shoes!" she exclaimed. (The shoes were, of course, pink.) She decided to wear the dress until her mother came home, to show her.

In the front garden, the boy took me on a tour of various herbs.
"That's thyme. And that's thyme. And that's thyme. Thyme, thyme, thyme. This is basil. And this is weeds (pulling leaves)."

Dad called out to explain that the plant in question was not in fact a weed, but Japanese shiso, and could he not pull any more. He complied.

The Girl came up to me, folded her arms, and said, "I have to tell you something. Sometimes my shoes look orange. I don't know why."

I said that color is indeed a funny thing sometimes, and she nodded sagely.

We took our leave and went to the farmers' market, where we picked up our CSA and other things.

Ok. I have to say this: I love supporting local farms. I love locally grown. But good Lord, FOUR DOLLARS for a handful of potatoes? Seriously?? My major beef with farmers' markets is that I could not afford to buy all of my produce there, and I don't mean I could but would not want to pay that much; I mean I literally could not afford to buy all of my food from a farmers' market. It's sad when the farmers' market is a luxury and Whole Foods is the staple. Nine dollars for two pints of blueberries. Six dollars a pint for raspberries, which grow like frikkin' weeds, for crying out loud. Don't even get me started on zucchini.

OK, I'll stop now.

I'd woken up with a pretty bad headache, my stiff-neck legacy from running last Thursday. I've always had neck issues, and have worried that my neck would be the thing that kept me from running. But tonight I was feeling better so I took a run along the sidewalk along the lake. It's a gorgeous view. I took it slow, warmed up, and then I was just fine.

When I'd tried to talk to C--about my recent running experience, I got the usual: she hates running outside, she hates the variance in the weather, she hates..... and I understood that a lot of people are just afraid of taking a risk or challenging themselves. Which is certainly their choice to make, but then they feel threatened when someone else shows that it can be done, and they get defensive. So instead of "go Joy, good for you," I get to hear all the reasons why they could NEVER do (insert what I consider a really cool activity here, including biking and camping), and the disapproval in their voice that I would.

As I ran back along the lakefront this evening, Mama Cass sang "Make Your Own Kind of Music" from my iPod:

You're gonna be nowhere
The loneliest kind of lonely
It may be rough going
Just to do your thing's the hardest thing to do
But you've gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song
Make your own kind of music
Even if nobody else sings along.

When I'd finished my run I was sweaty and happy and feeling great. I'd done two miles and it wasn't hard! Mama Cass is right: dancing to your own song alone is better than standing still with everyone else.

Dancing in your pink shoes that look orange sometimes.

1 comment:

karen said...

ha ha I didn't comment here because (a) I've been rather overwhelmed with life of late and (b) (sorry) I don't run. Only with my best stiletto cleat-like runners on -- yep, I have a pair of stiletto runners. One cleat per foot and I totally can hoof it to a bus in those suckers if I want to!

But a runner I am not, though I'd hop a bike and ride with you anyoldtime.

Alec locked himself out of the house this morning and so got me out of bed early to let him back in for his keys ... hence I am here, in quietude, catching up on my comments to you. Lucky you! (Lucky me, en fete)