I was outside yesterday when I heard a voice screaming, “Help!” I knew that voice; it was my pal Mary, who lives too many houses away from me to be audible outdoors. I found her with a dead squirrel and a very proud standard-bred poodle, who was the executioner.
Lesson #1: if you want to commit a crime in a densely populated area, 11 AM is the perfect time. Nobody is home. Ten years ago, a neighbor was badly injured by a falling icicle at midday. Nobody heard, including me, and it happened 20 feet from my kitchen window.
The two things I covet are free time and free space. I’m as guilty as anyone of collecting useless things, and having raised four kids in this house, there’s a lot to get rid of. I’m plugging at it, but it’s taking longer than I expected.
I hadn’t realized that people would want to see me while I’m here. I love them, and I’m no happier about goodbyes than they are. Because work is transient but people are forever, I stop and visit. But I also recognize that social media, texting and email give us options to maintain relationships.
My mother kept every financial paper from the time of her wedding. Sometimes she would entertain me by pulling out a receipt and exclaiming how cheap things were in the good ol’ days. This is how I know, for example, that I cost $180 to be delivered.
Yesterday I shredded 25 years of financial records. I wasn’t nostalgic about any of it. Mostly I thought about how hard we’d worked.
Back to the squirrel-executioner. For years, Mary and I and another self-employed friend have taken a midday walk together. I hate thinking about the end of that, because it is something that can’t be maintained with social media. The most profound relationships are accretions of moments, regularly built on each other, adding up to the totality of life.