A Bad Day Ends WellWednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday was a pretty good day but Wednesday was full of SNAFUs all delivered courtesy of that obsolete device, the telephone that is simply a telephone.
So much has been written about how one must be careful with email communication as it is difficult to judge the meaning or intention of the person in what might seem like a terse and short communication.
My friend Nora Patrich and her husband Juan Manuel Sanchez decided three year ago to get divorced. They returned to Argentina in separate airplanes. Our life (a sort of bohemian one) together of daily phoning, the discussion of books, of music, of art and then being invited to drink mate at their home at any hour is all gone. And I have not been able to adjust at the loss of my friends. In many ways I resent their breakup. Nora has sent me repeated emails since then with such stuff as ¿Y? or ¿Qué pasó? Like a little boy that I sometimes am I was enraged by these short messages so I finally answered:
This is from Alex’s wife Rosemary. I have the sad duty to report that Alex died quite suddenly some weeks ago. It was a heart attack. Please don’t send flowers.
Of course this email must have at first puzzled Nora but she was smart enough to figure it out. I do get the occasional email but I never answer it. I still Skype her former husband.
I will probably not be able to hold off from communicating with Nora as the more I live in Vancouver the more I feel like that Juan-Manuel-Sanchez-penguin in the North Pole. I feel out of place and out of time. There is an increasing feeling of alienation (a word so popular in my 1960s). There is a feeling that either the world here in Vancouver is crazy or I am crazy. It is far more comfortable to think the latter over the former, but there is a lingering feeling I could be wrong.
Some weeks ago, out of the blue (something I do often) I called a former magazine editor/publisher and left a message (the usual one), “This is Alex; It’s not important. Thank you and goodbye.” A week later something else came up to remind me of the magazine editor/publisher so I called again. And I left a message.
Finally the magazine editor/publisher called back and admitted to me that he was calling back in reply to two received messages left on his machine. “Is it important?” He asked? I explained that it wasn’t. I was told that someone was with him so that he could not really talk to me and would do so a few days later. The call never did come.
It is my sense of manners and etiquette taught to my by my parents that I must reply to all communication. I reply to all emails and answering machine messages. I must admit that if the number on my call display is a 1-800 I let the phone ring.
Another friend was always at supper, not matter what time of the day I would call. I finally got the message. I told my eldest daughter Ale that I must have telephone bad breath. She told me that I have the tendency to call her up and to “dump on her”. That expression sounds terrible and it left me speechless.
My granddaughter Rebecca called me out of the blue to tell me that I could no longer buy her any plants (even small ones) and that any that I gave her in the future would be thrown away. The call was followed immediately by one from her mother telling me about the same thing. It seems strange to me to stifle and child’s interest in anything even if it is plants. I felt a tad hurt but I decided that I would do what Pam Frost (Vancouver’s Queen of the Garden) did many years ago which was to set aside an area of her garden for her daughter (by then the daughter was in her early 20s!) This way I will be able to give my granddaughters whatever plants I wish to give them. And they can kill them with neglect if they want to. That is far better than throwing them away.
I have come to the conclusion that I must learn to withdraw. Vancouverites are a strange ilk. I might have a friendlier relationship if I were to Facebook them. But this I will not do. I prefer to communicate with substance and at length. If this form of communication is obsolete then in obsolescence I will withdraw. Rosemary says that part of the problem is that I have too much time on my hands and that I have too much time to reflect. She may be right. But I am glad that I have the luxury of having time on my hands and that I am able to reflect. At age 67 (almost 68) it is important to be able to reflect.
The bad day ended worse and then like magic it fixed itself up. Rosemary let out both cats at around 8 p.m. A couple of hours later it was dark and only my female, Plata was at the front door. Rosemary’s Casanova was nowhere. We called and called and went out to look for him with flashlights. To no avail, he was nowhere. We have had these situations many times in the past. I did not look forward to a night of going down to check the doors to see if the cat had returned. I finally shook Casanova’s hard food bag and a few minutes later I heard Rosemary say, “Casa, please come in. You are a good boy.”
A bad day ended well.