Everything was fine yesterday at 5 when I was up and on the computer. I had written my blog and then had begun to work on a project for Vita. Everything was not fine a few hours later when Joe came into the office while I was writing. Joe knows not to talk to me when I'm writing but he broke into 'the zone' and said, "The basement is flooded."
I made a couple of phone calls to insurance and to contractors and then went back to work in the office. Joe was busy downstairs trying to get stuff out of the water, saving some things and being ruthless with others. Some boxes down there moved with us ten years ago and are still unopened. Those, after a quick glance, were simply thrown out.
In one of those boxes, Joe found a wack of stuff from our university days. He found the leather pouch where he'd kept our passports, international student IDs and international drivers licences - all stuff from our trip to Europe back when we were students. Along side those were our student cards from UVic where we attended in the very early seventies. Those pictures of a much younger me, a me with hair on my head and muttonchops on my face, stared out at me.
Joe noticed me looking at the pictures and said, "Remember the carefree days?"
Now, at that moment, he was rushing around in a basement full of water so didn't understand what he was saying. I looked at that guy, "Carefree" is not how I'd have described him then, and certainly not how I'd describe him now.
Suddenly I remembered one of the classes that I had taken at the University. It was one of those 'touchy feely,' active listening, discover yourself, faux psychology courses that was all the rage at the time. We'd go to class and have to do relaxation and visualization exercises - discover ourselves (or the self the professor wanted us to discover because we were marked on this shit). In one of those exercises we had to imagine putting all our worries into a big bag and leaving them at the door.
I dutifully did what was asked. My worries were huge. If being gay at a time when that was exceedingly not cool, wasn't enough - being a Christian at the same time and knowing the condemnation I'd experience should my friends ever find out, certainly was. Hiding our relationship was something Joe and I got very, very good at. So along with all the other youthful insecurities and fears, my bag was pretty damn full. I pictured it straining to contain all fears within.
Then we were supposed to go on some kind of guided imagery journey. But I couldn't go. I couldn't take my eyes of the sack holding my troubles and woes. Suddenly I could see a hallway full of bags of worries, all left by other students. Some huge, some small, some misshappen, some tidily packed. There mine lay amongst them. All I could think of was that I wanted this damn guided journey to end (I've never much liked EITHER meadows or beaches) so I could get my bag back.
Those worries, concerns, fears, they defined me in some odd way. They were what drove me during the day and woke me during the night. I didn't want to lose them. I didn't want someone else to grab my bag by mistake. I wanted them back.
This is what I wrote about for the professor. I got an 'F' for missing the point of the exercise. I gave the professor an 'F' for missing the point of the exercise.
So I looked at that guy in the picture yesterday. I know he never imagined being 55, and he certainly never imagined being me. He was just trying to get through the day. Making tomorrow, without dropping his bag of worries and woe, was his goal then.
Oddly, it's still mine now.