Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm Late

I’m late. I meant to post at least one blog entry during my daughter’s spring break so my writing muscles wouldn’t get too flabby. Now I’m sitting here at the keyboard like 99% of the members at the community center gym on January 2, waiting for their turn on the elliptical machine.

I must be feeling guilty about it since I had a dream last night I was running around this huge movie theater that resembled an airport, trying to find my movie date. I’d arrive at what I thought was our agreed upon time and destination only to find I was late, or in the wrong theater, or on the wrong day. These events kept playing over and over with what felt like everyone I’ve ever known in the role of my movie date.

If only “Groundhog Day” were playing on the screen each time, but alas, my dreams are just anxious and not clever.

I’m sorry. I’m late. It’s all I can say.

Yesterday I went back to work and found this amusing bit of trivia in my inbox from my boss’s boss:

“On this day, way back in 1883, Standard Time was implemented by railway leaders across the nation. Prior to that, each locality used solar time - which basically means looking up at the sun and determining what time it is. You can imagine how tricky scheduling used to be.”

I immediately longed for the days prior to 1883 when my fellow humans would be more apt to respond to my question, “Have you got the time?” by looking up at the sky and saying “about two-ish” rather than grumpily mumbling, “Two fifty-three” and glaring at me like I’m a hobo for not wearing a watch or owning a cell phone.

“Have you got the time?” What a weird way to ask someone what time it is. I don’t have the time. And I certainly don’t get time. I’m always late. People buy me watches. I lose them. I’m too cheap to buy a cell phone. I’d end up losing it anyway. The exact time and I are just not friends. Never have been, never will be. Through time ad infinitum.

I remember as a kid my dad was always ready to go anywhere early. He’d sit at the kitchen table clipping his fingernails, humming a tune which got more up tempo as more of his fingernails flew to the kitchen floor like crazy wee conductors. The car would be running in the garage. Warming up. Even in August when it was so hot and sticky out I had trouble peeling my sweaty body from the covers of my bed as I’d awaken to my dad’s voice in the kitchen booming, “It’s 8:03 and already 98 degrees!”

I always assumed my dad was the early bird in our family, but after my mom divorced him I realized she likes to be early too. I assumed Dad had influenced her hurry-upedness, but without him waiting around for us to get ready, she still manages to show up anywhere early. She’s retired now so she’s on her own time. We make plans to meet somewhere at noon. She shows up at midnight the day before and I show up at midnight the day after. Thank God we have Facebook to chat whenever it suits us best.

What’s weird is all of my mom’s five kids are slow pokes. Especially my brother Pat. Even before he died over a year ago. It was always iffy whether or not he’d show up to family gatherings. Now it depends if someone remembers to bring the beer stein urn in which his ashes reside. But none of us ever got too mad at him. We figured if he didn’t show up one Christmas but managed to the next year it wasn’t that he’d missed the first gathering. He was just 365 days late.

It was nice having Pat around to be the least reliable among us. Now that’s my job. I thought cutting back to part time at work would help, but I’ve just found more things to get sidetracked by during those extra sixteen hours a week. My therapist suggests “living in the moment” as a way to deal with my posttraumatic stress disorder. I wish she’d write me an excuse to carry around and show people when they tisk tisk me for showing up late. Eh, I’d probably lose the note anyway.

I’m not proposing we as a society go back to solar time on my account. Solar time wouldn’t work any better than standard time for me anyway. My body often isn’t fully awake until the sun’s about to go down. How about lunar time? That sounds nice.

No, I don’t expect everyone to change their schedule to suit me. I just wish my friends and loved ones who are sitting around waiting for my ass to show up would quit worrying about me and understand that the old line “it’s not you, it’s me” really does apply here. I’m not late because I disrespect you or think little of the time we share. I’m late because I’m late. Asking me to pay attention to the clock is like asking the sun to pay attention to train schedules.

Sorry for the hastily written post-Spring Break post. I’d spend more time on it but I’ve gotta jump in the shower. I’m running late for work.