Routines

March 6, 2013

Snow started as rain last night, changed to a “wintry mix”, and then to all snow. Power went out at some point. By now there is probably close to a foot of the stuff outside, weighing tree branches down and making Sadie’s trips outside to pee an adventure in belly-deep cold. Jeremy fired up the generator (so we could grind the coffee – we have our priorities straight) and got some wood burning in the fireplace. When we redid the kitchen 5 years ago, we put in a gas stove, so cooking is comfortable and normal.

I keep reaching for the light switches and turning them on. Nothing happens.

Routine is a powerful thing. I notice small things I take for granted mostly when they’re not there – like turning on the lights, or looking at the microwave to see what time it is. I had the presence of mind this morning to pull out what we call a flame thrower to light the stove, maybe because I had almost tripped over the extension cord snaking its way across the kitchen to power the fridge. It makes me wonder, though, what else is so routine I have stopped thinking about it.

Exercise at this point is that for me. It’s not a question of “if” I’ll do my workout for the day, but when. Like a computer’s processor, my brain runs on silent mode, thinking and calculating the kind of food I’ll eat to fuel the workout I will do today. I had oatmeal this morning, partly because the day kind of called for it and partly because I know I need more carbs for a good lifting session. Exercising and the food I need are so ingrained in my psyche it surprises me to realize that not everyone feels this way.

Julian spent some good lung energy this morning yelling about where his snow pants had disappeared to. They weren’t on the back of the door where they’re supposed to live. They weren’t in the mud room. They weren’t, despite his desperate waking up of his sister to demand that she give them back to him, in Maddie’s room. I pointed out that they were probably where he had left them last. To this he replied something unintelligible.

He came downstairs wearing his snow pants. They’d been in his junk drawer, a bottom dresser drawer where he sporadically throws treasures like crumpled up pieces of paper and old candy wrappers he doesn’t want me to know he’s eaten. He had put the pants in there for safekeeping.

***

When Jeremy went outside to start the generator this morning, he looked across at our neighbor’s yard. A tree was down on one of their cars and had narrowly missed the house. He came in to hook up the fridges and told me about it, saying he was going to offer to help. I told him to invite them over for food and coffee. No takers, but when I walked out to take out the garbage, I called over again (they were shoveling snow), letting them know that coffee was ready and they were welcome to some.

Their son knocked on the door a few minutes later, clutching a “go” mug. I asked him if that was all they needed, if they needed cream or sugar. And then I noticed he was also holding money.

No. Nononononono. I offered coffee to offer some semblance of normal, to offer some warmth and wake up and something else intangible. It made me laugh a little, but it also stung – obviously we have not been neighborly enough with those neighbors. What kind of a routine is it that doesn’t involve being more comfortable with people who live next door to us?

When Julian came back from his jaunt down the neighborhood, he asked me if friends who live down the street could come for dinner. I said yes, of course – they do not have a gas stove, nor do they use their fireplace. He said, “good, because I already invited them.”

That’s the kind of routine I like. A routine of kindness, of sharing. One you don’t think about but just do.

What’s your routine?

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