No watch weekend. 


I didn’t wear a watch this weekend. I brought one. I planned to. Usually when I’m traveling you can’t get it off me. It’s a security blanket, an assurance that I’ll be able to check the time without having my phone. Not that I won’t have that too. 

I didn’t wear my watch this weekend, and it seemed to contribute to the feeling of displacement. Yes, we were in Texas, yes, it was hot. But mostly, I wasn’t ever really sure what time it was. 

I would say, “I never really realized how much of my life was completely governed by what time it was, what time I had to be somewhere, what time I had to leave,” but that wouldn’t be true. Because the only time I don’t know what time it is would be when I’m sleeping. And even then, I will know what time it is when I wake up. 

In my 350 square foot apartment (a generous measuring), there are four clocks, not counting the one on the microwave. I own two watches, so that brings the number of timepieces up to 7. Then there’s my phone, which works as a backup timekeeper. 

I didn’t know what time it was when on Friday we walked around the square in the center of Granbury in the 90+ degree shelter. We dragged our tired bodies around, which had been rudely awakened at 4 that morning and dragged from one end of the country to the other. Texas was having a cool spell, but our Minnesota-acclimated bodies were having a hard time believing it. 

I knew what time it was while I waited in our hotel room for Grandma to return from the rehearsal dinner. She would have gotten ready for bed with a flashlight rather than wake me with a real lamp, so I kept the lights on and kept my eyes open with sitcoms. 

And I kept track of time until we left for the bridesmaids’ luncheon the next day. My watch left off because it didn’t match my outfit, I sat and talked with the photographer for an hour I suppose, not realizing how long it was taking for the single waiter to bring all of the food. 

I wasn’t sure what time it was when I sank into my hotel bed for an afternoon nap, Grandma napping on the other bed. But I know she slept a much shorter time than I did, jumping up after a short rest of the eyes to get ready for the wedding and clear out of the bathroom so I could get ready when I woke up. 

I didn’t know what time it was when the wedding guests carried chairs over from the ceremony area by the lake to the reception room. But I do know that we sweated even though the chairs were light. And we kept sweating while we ate our burgers and cake and listened to speeches and cried during the father-daughter dance. 

It felt much later than 9:30pm when grandma and I flopped into our beds, but I do know that it’s true. 

The clock in the lobby of the hotel was wrought iron and had a pattern on the back of the clock that made it impossible to tell where the hands were from a distance, so I didn’t know what time it was this morning when some of us found our way around two breakfast area tables to eat waffles shaped like Texas and oatmeal and sip our coffee, which is the family heritage beverage, and catch up a bit more, rehash the previous night’s  events. 

I didn’t know what time it was when we left the church of my dad’s college friends and followed them to their house. When 3:30 rolled around, my mom looked at her watch in surprise, “we’d better leave if we’re going to get you to the airport on time. ” I didn’t know it was so late. 

It didn’t matter much, because events like these don’t depend on the time as much as they depend on everyone being in the right place at the same time. And I could just be a sheep, following the herd to the next stop. 

Now that it’s just me again I wish I’d put my watch on today. I can’t follow the heads in the airport, because, unlike my family, they don’t know where I’m going or where I’ve been or when I need to get there. 

I mean, my family doesn’t always know that. None of us actually brought our invitation to the wedding, so we had to combine our shared memory for some of the details. But there’s a lot more trust there than the person in front of me in the security line. 

I’ll be glad to strap my watch back on tomorrow morning, but it was nice to spend a couple days without its governance. 

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The best life and how moving taught me sort of a little bit of what that looks like


 

If there’s anything I’ve learned from moving out of my parent’s house and into a place all my own, it’s that I’m both not capable of doing big things alone and that I’m not living my best life when I try.

We could put that on a nice graphic with a rose behind it, and it would be inspirational.

In fact, let’s do.

im-not-capable-of-doing-big-things-aloneand-im-not-living-my-best-life-when-i-try

So I’m not a graphic designer. You still might like it if it showed up in your Facebook newsfeed. Because it’s cheesy and because it’s true.

I was feeling pretty good about my independence level in the whole I’M MOVING OUT saga. I started searching for apartments months before I was ready to commit. I figured out where I wanted to be and went to apartment showings while my parents were out of the country. Heck, I signed my lease while they were out of the country! In-de-pen-dent adult! Hurrah! Wave your flag!

I hadn’t imagined I’d be doing all of those big things alone, but I felt pretty good about it. Sure, my friend Emma was the one who tipped me off to the property I ended up going with, but I’d done everything else by myself.

I started packing, by myself. And kept packing by myself. And going through things by myself. My parents would stop in the doorway of my room and ask how it was going. I’d tell them how many bags of things I was taking to Goodwill and that I’d gotten rid of most of my class notes from high school.

I spent hours and hours and days and weeks cleaning out my 22 years of residence at my parents’ house and would finish each segment feeling exhausted of the process but also triumphant at the progress.

My friends from church downsized about a month ago and offered me a chance to see if I wanted any of their furniture. So I went, excited about the possibility of a nice armchair.

“Oh, I was going through my crystal and found out I had duplicates. Do you want them?”

I accepted and promised her I’d serve chips and guacamole out of them.

A couple weeks later, she gave my mom four bags of things for me at the prayer meeting. Pyrex with lids, pillows, mugs, a vegetable steamer, a plate, bowls., more

I returned the Pyrex I’d bought for myself, checked a few things off my list.

I went through the list of things I still needed to buy with my mom. “Toaster, microwave, hand mixer, knives… oh knives. I don’t know how to buy knives. I want good knives.”

The next day, as I sorted through things, she appeared in my doorway. “Do you want this bread knife? and one of the steak knives?” (steak knives that we use more as paring knives because they work like a dream.

“Yes, but that’s the good bread knife.”

“Is it? Well, you can have it. We have two.”

I’d forgotten about flatware. I moaned about needing flatware. She thought about it for a bit. “Do you want to take one of our sets of flatware? We don’t really need two if it’s just your dad and me.”

And so there were forks and knives and spoons.

A friend from church had a garage sale. I went and bought five plates for $.75 and a DVD for $.25. “What else do you need?” she asked, thinking about the other things she might be clearing out. Somehow, I hadn’t planned on so many other people caring what I needed.

My parents and I had planned to take a few trips back and forth from home to my apartment with both cars. We made small trips during the week, taking over a couple things at at time. I grew weary of all the unlocking and relocking of the doors, the carrying of boxes just heavy enough to be uncomfortable and awkward.

The day of the biggest part of the move my friend texted, “Do you need help moving? Do you want to use my van?” This is no ordinary van. This van took my desk, my bed, my mattress, and a bookshelf, along with a bean bag chair and another box of things. We made one trip between the three vehicles. I hadn’t thought to ask.

I am learning to ask.

After everything was moved in and I’d been living here for a couple days, I tried to put up some shelves. It was simple. All you had to do was find a stud. And if you can’t find a stud, you use an anchor and it’s all good.

I knocked on that wall up and down and left to right, all the while conscious that I had neighbors whom I hadn’t met. Where was that stud? Are there any studs? I decided to just use the anchor. I’ve done this before. No big deal. The neighbors will be okay with it, right? They won’t hate me for making some noise. I just moved in.

Hoping I wouldn’t have anyone stomping to my door, I tried to screw the anchor into the drywall and got 75 percent in. It wouldn’t go any farther. Or maybe I wasn’t using all my strength. Either way, I had no choice but to unscrew the anchor. But when I got it out, the screwdriver wouldn’t come out of the anchor. No matter what I tried. I was tired of trying and feeling remarkably insecure about trying to hang shelves alone when I heard my neighbor make a noise that sounded slightly possibly irritated next door, right after I hammered.

So I invited my parents over for dinner, mentioning the shelves. They had to bring a chair for all of us to be able to sit at my table, but they did. How humbling to be cooking dinner for my parents in the apartment that would not have been had it not been for them, for so many reasons, and not just because I wanted their company but because I needed their help.

And affirmation.

I could go on, because there are so many people reflected in my apartment: in artwork, in pictures, in something they gave me because they knew I could use it, in something they took out of their own drawer and handed to me (MOM). In the things they helped carry in or helped me find. I say this all knowing there’s a risk that it’ll sound sappy rather than sincere.

If anything, this whole move is just a concrete picture of most things in life. We get where we are on the shoulders of people who offer themselves and what they have. Our best life is when we support each other. And every time I look around my apartment, I remember that.