I'll Be There Before Ye
It struck me the other day that I hadn’t had a conversation in over a week. I don’t count my son, because sometimes I don’t.
It hasn’t really occurred to me in the past, and maybe this was just an unusual period. The weather was iffy a lot, often cold (or feeling cold for summer, sometimes dipping into the high 40s at night, which is stupid), so maybe I was a little more housebound.
But there are things I do every week, automatically, without thinking, and I don’t do those at the moment. Part of this is the season, and part is trying to work out this whole supportive-spouse-sabbatical thing. And truth be told, my wife tends to nudge me out of the door and out to concerts, plays, etc.
I was just so damn lonely, then. It wasn’t depressing, just sort of a restless feeling. It’s hard to have an adult conversation with John, because he’s always watching me. If you remember the book or film The Blind Side, the young football player (“Big Mike”) has abysmal scores on an aptitude test except for “protective instincts,” where he was off the chart. Thus he was a good blocker on the offensive line, etc. Other stuff, too.
This is John, then. He’s spent nearly 30 years knowing he was different, struggling, all over the map in terms of behavior, finally reaching a point where, with a bit of medication to help his crushing anxiety at bay (seriously; it’s crushing), he’s calm and pretty serene. So he can focus all of his attention on watching Dad like a hawk. It’s incredibly annoying and also makes me want to burst into tears. You can live an entire lifetime without having someone who has your back, 24/7. It might help if they were autistic.
But it makes for edgy conversation, as he’s always assessing for signs of sadness or tension or stress. He gives me advice. Sometimes it’s awesome advice. Sometimes just a different perspective that doesn’t apply.
I just needed something else, so I persuaded a couple of friends down in Renton to meet me for dinner at the local Mexican restaurant we all seem to flock to when we need a go-to meal.
I had the flautas, which sometimes I crave when they’re made just right, just enough crisp in the tortilla and some decent salsa tucked inside. Normally I get their Diablo, which are chicken enchiladas with ghost pepper salsa, but I went with the flautas.
I didn’t even eat them, or much of them, because I was yakking so much. I boxed the rest up and immediately finished when I got home, but I wasn’t missing the chance to socialize. I spent a couple of hours on the freeway and it was worth it.
These two women are going to join us in Scotland, as they’ve been several times (and Maggie was born and raised in Glasgow). It would have been an adventure, just the two of us, and maybe would have been a nice thing, but we’re not big travelers and it’s such a blessing to have friends as tour guides. We fly to Heathrow, then to Glasglow, spend the night, head for our retreat on Iona for a few days (gonna walk that beach from one end of the island to the other, maybe a few times, and I’ve already been expanding my daily walks to get up to multiple miles. My feet are going to be trodding and I want my lungs in tip-top shape.
The other day, randomly thinking about my movie projector and how seldom I use it, and I went looking for projector screens. I actually thought about spending some bucks to get a decent one with a stand, but then I found this highly-rated cloth screen, a full 120 inches, and it cost about $20!
This is where John’s 6’3 height came in handy. It has no stand but it’s completely wrinkle free. One of the hooks doesn’t want to stick, so I’m going to head out to find a metal hook I can screw in to the stud for a little more security, but the picture is much, much better and I have no complaints. Now to find something to watch.
And I’ll probably see Local Hero once again before I leave, and maybe Gregory’s Girl, and maybe I’ll investigate some more Scottish cinema prior to the trip. I spend a few minutes each evening listen to my Scottish accent tapes, trying to master certain vowel sounds. It’s not bad, just not exactly those Glaswegian sounds, but I have a good example to listen to.
(An attempt at the accent, butchering Macbeth)
And if I’m lucky, I’ll stand on that beach in Pennem, gaze at the massive sky like Burt Lancaster did in that movie. Oh Lord, your universe is so big and my existence is so small, and with luck I’ll discover what I need, what I’ve always needed from inspiration—not the answer to what I’m supposed to be, but what I’m supposed to do. I’m always backstage, waiting for my cue, and I’m heading north.