One reason I make a lot of jam and can a lot of tomato sauce is to preserve my sanity.
This morning was this typical opening gambit from one person I see in my office:
"I think they should make a list of all the ways the world is going to end and put them in order of how soon and most likely to happen."
"For example, did you know that people are losing a potato chip of weight a year?"
"No. I didn’t know that." (I reflected that, I personally, have been putting on about 8 bags of Lays every year for the last four or five.)
"Well, actually, it’s not weight. It’s gravity."
"Gravity?" (when in doubt repeat the last word and add a question mark.)
"Yes. Everybody is less stuck to the earth by about one potato chip a year. We’re losing gravity."
"Oh. Does this mean at some point we will just float away?"
(I’m still trying to get this to fit with my impression that I am more firmly grounded than ever to the chair, the floor, earth in general. Closer to worms, too. See? My mind, under the influence of others, is capable of wandering off on tangents of it’s own.)
Against all the laws of gravity, Rich took off for Oregon this morning in one of those 747-300 jumbo jets that holds, give or take, 496 passengers and weighs in the ballpark of 775,000 pounds. That’s almost a ton a person if you divide up all that weight but it makes sense- I’ve seen people trying to put that much in the overhead compartment. Actually, I’m guilty of this myself. Trying to retrieve your checked luggage in Detroit, where they think it’s a fun prank to change your luggage belt from #2 to #15 and not tell you, ever, is your rock bottom worst nightmare. I read all of Angels and Demons while waiting to get my suitcase a couple months ago. So, I too, try not to check. Anyway, in the overhead or down below, that’s too much weight to get off the ground. I’d rather think about the time when I lose all my potato chips and can just float to where I want.
But I dally from the point of my post. My future is at stake. It’s on the line. I’ve turned my life over to the care of another person. What could I be thinking?
All these years, mistress of my own fate. My own home, my own cottage, my own practice, my own parenting, my own garden and birds. All my own decisions, made of course, taking others into consideration but nevertheless- mine.
And now I’ve turned the decision making, roughly speaking, over to Rich. It appears that tomorrow he will be offered an opportunity, probably quite a nice opportunity, to move our lives all the way across the country. We could abandon the Midwest, home for 4 generations of my family. We could be packing up and leaving the town where I came to college and stayed, raised my family, lived my professional life.
In my garden I have a Bleeding Heart plant that I brought from my grandmother’s garden when she died 30 years ago. It has been moved around Ann Arbor eight times (the first five were student apartments where it grew-barely- tucked next to weedy parking spaces and garbage cans). I have David, our Tidal Basin Cherry tree, which this summer came to life from a dead-looking twig and is 4 feet tall and lush. Each year the next generation of hummingbirds shows up on May 4th and spends the summer near the honeysuckle vine and leaves Sept. 28 (next week!). Yes- they are of a single family and they are that predictable.
So, when Rich asked, "What are your thoughts about the University of Oregon?"
I said, "okay." Okay? OKAY?!?
And so, okay. I imagine he will make the right decision, whatever that is, and then I will have ample opportunity to weigh in, right on up to nixing the whole deal. We will discuss logistics. I will call around until I find a moving company that will handle the taxidermy with care. We’ll pull a giant U-Haul of plants across the country. We’ll fly back and pick up McCloud and Sophie and Millie, the pig, if she continues on with her record-setting life span and put them all in little zip bags under our seats much to the annoyance of fellow passengers. The finches will move to a retirement community or hospice. And we’ll all float on out of here.
Pardon me. I really need to go can something.