I have reached these last days of summer vacation ready to let my luxurious days as a lady of leisure slip into the heat mirages rising up from the asphalt.
The “lady of leisure” image isn’t entirely accurate; I’m always busy doing something during vacation: sewing projects that advance a few stitches each year, novel reading, catching up on news reading, organizing and rethinking old writing, “painting” with markers, firing up barbecues, other experiments in cooking, and usually one trip to Texas. Perhaps the time feels leisurely because I’m not “busy” by 21st century standards. I work hard during vacation not to multitask, even though social media and my cell phone make complete absorption in a single task difficult.
This year while in Texas, I sat by the pool in a lounge chair holding the baby and watched my brothers vacuum the pool bottom so the kiddos could play. The guys were deeply engrossed in pool care, and I was deeply engrossed in playing with the baby. We grilled hamburgers and the ten of us (Mom, me, the brothers, their wives and the cousins – it gets to be a big party quickly) ate burgers, chips, dip and peach cobbler and enjoyed being at the same address. The crowd of people, tykes and talls, made me realize that I need to be as thankful for my quiet, simple life as I am for the rowdy, loud, but all too brief occasions when we get to be together.
Somewhere between the pool and burgers and breakfast the next morning, I got to wondering when I had quit writing a colossal (email) letter “home” about the doings in my world and at what point I stopped knowing much about my brothers’ lives other than what might go in the first twenty lines or so of their resumes: name, address, phone number, date of birth, place of employment, marital status, number of children. I exaggerate somewhat, but not by much. Twenty years ago, when they were “just kids” it was easier to keep up with their specific interests. Or maybe I never really knew them at all — a distinct possibility that I don’t like thinking about. In any case, all that wondering made me decide to start this blog.
I considered returning to the old mass email letter, the kind I sent when I was in graduate school and then when I first came to Mexico, with attached word file and photos. Culturally, though, we’ve gotten to a point where we no longer read email unless they are snippets, and those are usually work-related or organizational in some way. Even those of us who do read email that resembles the old-fashioned analog paper letter very seldom respond in kind (there are a couple of notable exceptions in my family, and they are, of course, among my very favorite people). So rather than going to all the trouble to attach photos, files, text documents via email, I decided a blog would be both easier and more democratic. I post its existence with a link in the world of social media, and you, dear reader, can read it or not, comment in a sound byte, or a long letter, or not at all, as you wish and as you have time. Though it’s not quite the same as the thrill of opening a paper envelope reply, I do have the satisfaction of watching my stats and knowing some of you are reading.
Unfortunately, the blog won’t help me get to know my brothers better enough to have a real conversation with them when I see them at Christmas, but maybe they’ll take a cue from their big sis and post a blog of their own. Or maybe I should call more often. Ya think? Turns out that I’m no lady of leisure at all, and in my “regular life,” I do multitask (albeit badly) and get so busy that pushing old, flesh-and-blood connections to the bottom of the to-do list is remarkably, and sadly simple.
As the weeks have passed, I’ve tested the waters of blog-land a bit, and the original intent for the Inky Highway Oasis has morphed (as virtual ink tends to do when left to its own devices) into something additional that I’m not sure how to name. Perhaps its name is “opportunity.” I can’t really imagine the exact opportunity(s) that might come along, but I feel them wandering aimlessly out there, and I hope that they will randomly begin merging into the mirages rising up from summer asphalt along with my vacation where I can see them. ~LD