COLUMN: Almost What I Can Say: A Day in the Life | Columnists
It seems to me that doing small errands around town, like visiting the post office, has become such a habit and ritual that life doesn’t seem complete without it. I remembered when the post office was on Sycamore, before they built the new place in 1989. That seems a long time ago, I thought, and now even this new facility doesn’t seem so news. Next to the entrance, my arm brushed freshly pruned shrubs. The members gently pushed my arm. Now he bled with every little stroke for two days. It’s part of the price you pay to receive the gift of age, I think, and it applies to people as well as post offices.
I see friends mostly on their daily errands. We exchange pleasantries and ask questions about each other’s day, laugh, joke, wave and goodbye. Someone mentioned my arm was bleeding. I made a clever point or the other and someone else said what we all say at times like these: “Getting old is not for sissies”.
Ten minutes and a few handkerchiefs later, I was no longer losing arm life. I arrived at the barbershop pretty much intact with no other incident except for sort of jumping off the sidewalk a bit, distracted by my thoughts. I hoped no one noticed my sloppy parking skills as I entered and sat to one side near the front windows. An old man sat in the chair about to fall asleep as the barber clipped and combed. A young man chatted with the barber in the other chair. When my turn came, the barber asked me if I wanted the usual, which shows that I’m such a creature of habit that people know what I want when they see me coming. I said yes and made my usual joke of cutting it short on the sides and leaving it long on top. It’s funny to me since I have less and less long hair to leave on top but it’s my way of trying to come to terms with my current state which I call my ‘advanced state of decay’. These and other thoughts crossed my mind as the barber worked on my hair. Others were talking about this and that in the town and I was trying to listen, but I was also dozing off a bit like the old man sitting in the chair next to mine. I sighed. Time flies. The barber finished with a bang as the cloth was removed and hopped to the side to add my hair to the ones on the floor. I paid, left my usual tip, and was in my truck shortly after, glancing in the rearview mirror to see what my hair looked like. Looked good I guess, just a little plastered like Buster Brown. I crumpled it up and put the truck in reverse.
Engaged and distracted in such research into the state of my arm, my hair, and my life, I backed out of the parking space and was startled by a honk of my horn. I slammed on the brakes and waited for the car to pass. I sighed again and tried to pay more attention to my driving rather than my memories.
At the office a few minutes later, I read my mail, caught up on my phone messages, stretched and yawned, and checked my watch. There were only thirty minutes left for lunch, another favorite part of my day, another ritual I’ve grown accustomed to. I realized later, when I had my salad and my soda, that almost everything I do these days is a habit and a ritual; the same thing repeated over and over again. I said good day to the people at the sandwich shop and went back to mine. Sometimes when crossing the parking lot, I stop and look around and try to take it all in. It seems such a wonderful thing to be so settled in and yet I don’t want life to be taken for granted. I want to observe every day, hear the birds in the trees, smell the grass, revel in the ritual, so to speak. So I do just that and my little world is comfortable and happy and peaceful and just the same with each passing day. When I talk to passing clients or friends, I realize that I can go way back in time and know the connection between us all, whether by accident, marriage, divorce, or chance. I guess if we all live long enough, we kind of blend into the environment and become part of the very fabric of small town life. It’s not such a bad thing, as far as I know.