Finished up Day 4 by watching a Midsomer Murders episode, the TV equivalent of comfort food, while applying leather conditioner to one of fifteen large leather cushions.
Sidebar: Fifteen cushions
Sometime in the late 1970s, we bought a Danish Modern set of sofa and two armchairs. Spare, angular wood frames supporting big soft cushions all the same shape, for seats and backs. Sometime in the early 2000s we realized the leather had dried and cracked and looked pretty bad. Shopped for a while but couldn’t find any equivalent seating that we liked. So we hired an upholsterer to basically rebuild all 15 cushions in new leather, dyed the same deep-green color. Now, 15 years on, that leather is holding up but looks a bit tired and stressed. I ordered a big bottle of “Leather CPR” two weeks ago, figuring the slow hand task of working conditioner into the cushions might be a nice project for “when I’m a bachelor”. Ok, starting that now. Anyway, back to today.
Walked to the Y, did my exercises, walked home. Thinking all the way, trying to isolate and examine this not-quite-constant feeling of anxiety, malaise. What is it that eats on me? I think I have a handle.
For 45 years, Marian and I formed a tight little mutual support group of two. Psychologically siamese twins. For most of that time, the act of walking home from the gym had the context that I was walking home to where Marian was. This fact of being part of a couple was the basic context (or milieu or background) for every act. Yes, I went to the gym and returned on my own initiative, I didn’t have to, I chose to. But in the deep background, whatever I did, I did in the context of being part of “Dave’n’Marian”. It didn’t supply “meaning” exactly, but was the water in which we goldfish swam.
And that’s gone; the context, the background stripped away, leaving all actions isolated in space. The practical reasons for going to the gym, or going at that hour, are exactly the same as ever.
And yet, because there’s no context except me and my choice, it seems to call the act, every step in it, into question; seems to demand justification, or re-verification.
Hopefully this will fade as I begin to establish a new context for myself as “Dave the Bachelor”. Toward this my friend Wally is a model and an inspiration. He lost his wife a decade ago, and now leads a very interesting, confident, self-sufficient life. When we met for the Jake Shimabukuro concert Tuesday night he mentioned how he was just back from New York City, where he’d seen the Rockefeller Center Christmas special. I, figuring he had business there, said, “Great, so why were you in New York?” “For that!” he said, “And for some art galleries and things.”
That’s the kind of bachelor I want to be: one who goes out and gets experiences for his own sake.