Saturday, May 31, 2008


Last December I sat in a white van as the sun set early over Vernal, Utah. Behind me slept about ten adolescent males, peaceful and harmless. I thought about the day ending so early, and it becoming too cold and dark for anyone in Vernal to want to leave their houses, and how many people were eating their dinner, many of them alone, realizing they had accomplished so little in such a short day. We drove past the dinosaur wearing a Santa hat next to the town's giant Christmas tree and passed on through the town. It was already cold out but would get much colder, trapping people in their homes, not because it would be impossible to leave, but because it would be so unpleasant.

The lucky ones would be eating with their families that they loved and loved them, or with their friends or new lovers. The unlucky ones would be eating alone and watching television, or just eating alone, or eating with friends they didn't like or a family that didn't ever like talking to each other.

That night I would be hurriedly eating some instant noodles and then sleeping outside with these boys, too cold to worry about feeling loved or lonely. I was not a part of the world then, but seeing it from the outside made it even more interesting and more depressing.

I thought about how hard life is, especially in the winter, and especially if you live in someplace like Vernal and are by yourself. I thought about how it sometimes helps to distract yourself with things like hobbies or movies or books or blogs. I decided that at this time of year, just to survive is success and that staying inside all day long is okay, and that that is what animals do anyway, and that it's okay to stave off tears of aloneness with a badly made movie from Blockbuster. Microwave dinners are okay too, and so is putting on music and the TV at the same time as reading a book just to distract from the repressive silence and fruitless drudgery of introspection.

That's not enough though. There is also the hope of summer. It will get warmer, you know that. And if you're lucky, you might even die in a warm place with the sun shining, but not in your eyes, and be surrounded by people you love.


Michelle 2021 said...

In a way, I kind of understand. I really like this prose.

I am in Mesa and I love my husband. I love studying my nursing texts and I am thankful for a great place to live with air conditioning.

But I am bored. I miss my friends and family and really wish I could just pop over to someone's house without having to introduce or explain myself. This is a real luxury.

Are you cold in Alaska? It's really hot in Mesa.

Laverna said...

You don't even have to be living in a different state to miss those you're close to. I live about 15 minutes away from my parents, 10 minutes away from my in-laws, and a sister is 5 minutes away. Yet I am inordinately excited when I get a chance to talk with someone I know and have a good conversation. It isn't as if my husband doesn't provide company or conversation, quite the opposite. Yet you still crave contact with others.
When my Grandma died a couple years ago, I thought a lot on how lucky she was to have family around her. Granted, she was sick and old and didn't recognize most of us, but she knew we were her family.
Compare that to her neighbors in her assisted-living facility. Only rarely did they have someone come to visit. Whenever my family came to visit, we would try and take time to chat with anyone else who might be around. Some of the residents were a little jealous of my grandma, I think. Why should she be so lucky as to have a big family that visits her every day? And yet they simply craved contact -- someone to talk to.
It makes you treasure what you do have. It is to easy for it to be taken away.

Creativity Escapes Me said...

This is a reason I'm volunteering this summer doing hospice care. Everybody needs somebody and that somebody might as well be me. I too am bored and am finding trouble filling the time between clocking out from work and the midnight hour of bedtime.

jo said...

hear, hear

Michelle 2021 said...

And if you can't really improve the world through service, at least spend your life creating frightening fiber-glass likenesses of dinosaurs. I think it's smiling at me, or at my soul. Kind of creepy.