Last night at bedtime, Corb put down Clash of Kings (which he is totally obsessed with, may I add) to say, "I enjoyed the show tonight."
I wiggled my toes under the blanket, pleased. "That's so funny. You don't usually enjoy shows at that theater."
I will spare you the dialogue that followed, seeing as it involves a recitation of the various shows we have seen at this local black box theater and Corb's review of all of those shows. Suffice it to say: yes, he has actually enjoyed quite a few. But to my point, there have been quite a few he has really, really not liked. This evening was different. We went to see a production of Our Town, a show Corb's never seen before.
"I went there expecting to hate it," he replied. "Especially when my mom said how boring it was. But I really thought it was excellent, especially the final act in the cemetary. I like the idea of people sitting in chairs next to each other at their graves, forgetting their humanity as time goes by."
I dog-eared a page of Outlander and closed the book. "It reminded me of my visit to Bob this afternoon." I closed my eyes.
I had gone with Josie, once again, although this time, we brough Annie and Ashes along with us. Bob, who by the way is suffering from pulmonary hypertension, had been medicated by his nurse about an hour before we went, so he was not half as animated as he had been before. He sat there on the couch, listening to country music and pretending to play air guitar every now and then. The girls didn't say that much. We simply traded small talk and stories about camping until Bob finally said, "Well, I hate to break this up, but I think I'm going to take a rest."
And that was that.
But as I look back at the play we watched, the overwhelming thought I have involves about all the memories I have struggled to bring up with Bob every time I have gone to see him, and how far short my attempts to communicate have fallen from the actual experience. These experiences meant something. They were a big part of my life. Acting, camping, game parties. And yet, when you get right down to it, what do they all boil down to? "Remember when we did this?" And fumbling half-remembered stories that everyone has a different interpretation about (and I, of course, have a tendancy to embellish.)
Our Town is so right. Humans are so bad at details. We never pay attention to the mundane, never are truly in the moment, never appreciate what we truly have, until it's often too late. And if we could go back? The rich fabric, the waste of so much potential, would overwhelm us.
If I could go back in time, what day would I pick? The play asks that, and advises people to pick a mundane, average day, if any day at all. I kept trying in the moment to think what day I would pick. If it can't be overly special, then there was one sumer day I spent swimming with Theo our little pool in the backyard, which might be fun to go back to. I have often thought about the heat on my back and the sheer joy of swimming back and forth with my little guy.
Or, I was thinking, some sexual moment. That might be kind of fun, right?
That's another reason, by the way, I think it's so helpful to journal. At least when we journal we attempt to trap in amber some of the days we have spent. But I also have to admit, it can be difficult to go back and take a look at what you have written, years later. At least, for me. Ah, such imprecise words! Such misplaced anger. So many gaps. Our Town is right: it's the mundane that so often gets lost and discounted. And makes up so much of our lives.
My first journal entry was written on August 16, 1979. I was 14 years old at the time. It reads as follows: "A day of changes. Laurie is going to Nana Hall's because Mom and Dad don't want her around. Dad is planning to go to Block Island today, and Ted begins band."
I used to write about myself in the third person. I know, that weird. But hmmm, I guess those are all pretty big things. But the next entry reads: "Kerrie informs Diane and Michelle that Laurie won't "be here." Dianne doesn't like pears, so Kerrie and Michelle exclude her from them. Nana and Mom enter. Mom had to pick up Nana."
Well, that is certainly a bit more mundane. I couldn't pick Dianne out from a police line-up nowadays if you paid me, but I certainly do remember that she doesn't like pears, even after all these years. Captured in amber, that fact was. I wish I had more of that.
Soon after, I picked up my book and Corb went back to playing his game.
There are so many things I would like to capture in amber. Night times with Corb spent talking over the days mundane events? That certainly goes to the top of the list. Things like the fact that he turns his side of the heating blanket on to full for about ten minutes. I tend to put my side on five, but let it stay that way for an hour or so. Either way, it takes the cold out of our feet and makes the bed a welcome place.
For the record: I love pears.