It’s funny how words can change meanings over the years.
During my childhood, most of the attention went to my older brother, who was diagnosed with autism and profound retardation in addition to being nonverbal. Mom would take us into New York City every day and drop me off with a family friend while she took Mike to the Paine Whitney Clinic. I used to have a recurring dream in which I was in the back seat of the car and when I looked in the front, nobody was driving.
I’m sure some of this feeling carried over into my adult life. I used to become quite anxious if someone I was supposed to meet did not show up on time. Before cell phones, when one could not immediately check about the cause of the delay, I could spin all kinds of scenarios: a terrible accident; deliberate lateness; mistaken time or place of the meeting. Not to be all gloomy, one time I was actually correct about the time and place and my date did not realize that the time had changed from daylight savings, to standard time (or vice versa, I don’t remember). But most of the times I had to wait were due to normal lateness.
Growing out of it
I seem to have outgrown the feeling of being abandoned. It’s about time, since I am on the far side of middle age. Now, I wish I could do some of the abandoning myself. Not of any person, but of things.
In a few months, my wife and I plan to move. Here’s what I’ve been doing to lighten the load of the stuff to bring with us: 1) scanning old cards and letters I’ve received from friends and acquaintances over the years; 2) scanning my journals; 3) shredding old documents that are no longer needed; 4) trying to decide what to get rid of.
If this move is anything like previous moves, I start out carefully labeling boxes with their contents, organized according to subject. As the time approaches, organizing becomes less of a priority but the labeling activity survives. Finally, when I’m out of time, I just shove everything into the closest box that is not already filled.
While I was awaiting the moving van to arrive at our new place, on my last move, I found myself almost wishing that it caught fire on the way. I could start over, through no fault of my own. After a suitable mourning period, of course.
I can imagine a scenario where after slouching through the ridiculous scanning exercises of the precious notes of my past, time runs out and I wildly careen around the garage throwing random boxes into the dumpster. In my mind’s eye, I’m not bug-eyed or cackling, but it might come to that.
Isn’t it odd that at the beginning of my life, abandon meant ‘desert’ and many years later it means ‘lack of restraint or inhibition’? I overcame my anxiety over the former meaning of the word; hopefully I can abandon the unimportant things and live my life with abandon.