Thursday, May 1, 2014

Getting to home

(National Short Story Month has begun with the first day of May, and with it come prompts from Julie Duffy's Story A Day site. The first one was to write about getting to home.)

A conceptual design for a greenhouse, accessed 5/1/14
Getting home is often much easier than leaving these days. Perhaps it's the hot mug of coffee, the cozy fire, the warmth of the cat's body curled on your toes. No matter how early I wake up, I find it hard to speed up my morning rituals.
Some days it's nearly 2 p.m. by the time I head out the door. This kind of late departure is a luxury, I know, a privilege of the educated elite who are lucky enough to have jobs where they can usually set their own hours. But privilege comes with a price. Getting to work after 2 p.m. means that for most of those around you, the work day is done. They're wondering why you're heading in just as they're thinking about heading out.
"You're going the wrong way," I'm told more than once, as I'm climbing up the stairs that others are climbing down.
The joke bothers me. It always has. Back in my days as a newspaper reporter, it was more of a norm than an exception to work unusual hours. Yet, it seemed that even there the critical mass was packing up briefcases, lunch packs, and bags, and heading out at 4:30 p.m. Heading in seemed a grievous error even if the news operated on a schedule of 24/7.
But now it feels like everyone is watching, and wondering where I have been, how I could manage not to do any work at all, until 2 p.m. I wonder if my personal life is a subject of much speculation. What does she do until 2 p.m.?
Not much, to be honest. Time flies taking care of life's necessities: washing dishes, writing, cleaning the cat boxes, writing, making breakfast and eating it while writing, washing more dishes, going out to look at the garden, logging into the bank account and then needing to decompress from the shock of the lack. It feels like I am working, working a lot.
With the hot mug of coffee, the cozy fire, and the warmth of the cat's body against my chilled feet. These little accoutrements make me feel cared for, valued, loved and not needed. They give me the capacity to care for others.
After I've settled into my desk, after everyone in the office has left, it seems -- with forty-five minutes to spare -- my work day begins. For that last chunk of the day before sunset, I am in synch with my work, loving my job, caring for students and projects alike. It almost seems sad that I need to pack up my bags in order to get home before sunset, where I fear the inevitable scolding of coming home -- once again -- too late to have a reasonable dinner.
It's tough when you inhabit multiple worlds. No place feels like a comfortable fit; it's hard to belong. And when there are really good days, I often feel a bit wary, as if I am just bracing myself for something to go wrong.
I did work quite a few things out today, namely that the biking distance from our house to Latham is 33 miles one-way and that a lot of it is on country roads and bicycle paths, which should make for a pleasant ride on National Bike to Work Day in two weeks.
It seems like a ludicrous idea. Bike three hours to get to work. Spend one hour at work. Bike three more hours to get home. It's all in a day's work, and I know that that hour may stretch into two hours, and that the time will be well spent. And bicycling home will be a pleasurable breath of fresh air, even if it takes me three hours to get there.

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