What Tomorrow Brings
Maybe this furlough business won’t be so bad, after all. Day 1, after awakening with a sickening hungover feeling that it took me a little while to identify as part underlying anger, part emptiness over the loss of the structure of my job, which had suddenly been thrown into uncertainty — I immediately took action.
I sat in my jacuzzi and did nothing for the next 45 minutes. Nothing but read, contemplate, meditate, look up at the beautiful winter sky, through the bare branches of my oaks and dogwoods, my white yorkie putzing around the yard, enjoying the smells and unseasonable warmth of a mid-winter’s morning. What else are you going to do? I decided to just dig the day.
I went to my usual Saturday morning 9:00 meeting, called “The Freedom” — arguably my favorite meeting of the week, most weeks. This time, it was exceptional, better even than usual. On the way, my friend W called and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he asked what I was doing after that. He was looking for a walking partner. I told him I was walking with him.
W’s a bit of a fitness freak, and I suspected that my recent attention to fitness has caught his attention, and he saw an opportunity to team up with me. He lives a couple blocks over from me, and knows some great trails through the woods nearby. He grew up here, and has a 48 year history with those woods. I felt humbled and honored to be invited into his world in those woods for a walk. We walked 4 miles on Saturday, then again on Sunday (this morning). We talked about everything under the sun on the walks.
It was good getting to know him better — from the first time I met him, a little over two years ago, I sensed we would get to know each other a lot better. We had a lot in common — writing, some shared experience in our recovery journeys, both of which involved some cult-like group experiences, and how that shaped who we are. Recently, I learned of an even more intricate and complex connection he had with one of my best friends, that goes way back to when they were teens.
After our walk today, Kathy and I made our way to the church we kind of sort of belong to. It’s a very liberal type of a congregation, part of the Unitarian Universalist Association of churches. We got involved about 14 years ago, when we were looking for a place to expose our son to a spiritually based community. Back then, we got very involved in the life of the congregation. She became the Fellowship Lay Minister, while I was very involved in the Small Group Ministries of the church, as well as the manager of the church sponsored softball team. I also facilitated the youth group activities, including the annual LGBTQ dances that the church hosted, which were amazing.
After four years, our son JB went off to college and our level of church community involvement curtailed considerably. I stayed connected through the softball team, and Friday night poker nights with a group of guys from the church, while Kathy continued as the annual Chili Cookoff organizer, with me as her faithful sidekick for that endeavor.
At this point, that is the one thing that continues to connect us to the congregation. We’re just not Sunday-Go-To-Service type of people, unless a commitment compels us to be there. Every January, we show up for the second or third week’s services, to begin promoting the Chili Cookoff in the fellowship area after each service. It is our favorite thing to do, there, and for many in the congregation, a favorite annual social event.
It’s about so much more than chili, although that is quite a thing, in itself. There are three categories of chili that are judged — Meat, Vegetarian, and Youth Chili. We usually get between 35 and 50 entries, of such a wide variety it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Did I mention that I love chili? Kathy doesn’t, but loves the Chili Cookoff.
This will be our eleventh year in a row hosting it. We book a live band, “the Banty Roosters”, with dancing and a dance caller, and it turns into just a good old-fashioned, great eatin’, let-your-hair-down hoedown. We love it. When we show up for service, everyone knows what that means — “the chili cookoff’s coming!”
After manning the sign-up table for the 9:15 and 11:15 services, we packed it all up and headed down to the Kennedy Center to catch a showing of “The Humans” at the Eisenhower Theatre there. I was the human faucet throughout the show — I must have gone through a whole box of tissues, as I’ve had non-stop sinus draining all day. My annual cold.
Great show, what I caught between sneezes and blows of the nose — kind of a stark, realistic portrait of an American family in the new millenium. Very well written — didn’t like the ending, but it was very real.
When she asked what I wanted for dinner, on the way home, I said, “Chicken Noodle Soup”, so we picked some up, and a sandwich for her, at Paneiro’s. I came home, watched some football, ate my soup, took some cold medicine, then promptly went to bed and slept a couple hours. Upon awakening, I learned they might have worked out another short-term kick-down-the-road Continuing Resolution that they’ll vote on tonight at 1 a.m.
Looks like my furlough might be a very short-lived one — or, maybe, just delayed a couple weeks, who knows? A part of me is actually disappointed — I was just warming up to the idea of the time off.
I did update my resume and post it on a web site, just to see what it might attract out there in the non-governmental world. Maybe if I get a good bite, I’ll retire from this crazy government business, where they can pull the rug out from under you whenever they don’t want to do their jobs (congress and the president), and get me a job in the real world.
Or, maybe I’ll just go back to doing what I do. It’s anyone’s guess. But, in my heart of hearts, I am glad they might get the doors of government back open, because the damage to many, many people is simply too great when they shut it down.
I am a selfish man, for the most part, despite how I usually portray myself — I really am. But I can definitely get behind that. I’m actually kind of glad that I might be going back to work tomorrow.
I’m not staying up until 1 a.m. to find out, though. I’m going back to sleep, to hopefully kick this cold for good. When I awake, I’ll either be going in to shut my little corner of the government down, or to have my usual round of Monday check-in meetings with all of my division directors. Monday is meeting day.
If that is the case, I will be so glad to be sitting through all of those meetings. It will be just like the furlough never happened!
Either way, I will be ready. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.