The simple life

“Let’s get together,” people say. “Let’s have coffee. Let’s talk more about philosophy.” And then the clincher: “Do you ever get into* Toronto?”

I don’t know how to explain to these people how unlikely it is that they and I will be sipping latte at Dooney’s any time soon. (Does Dooney’s still exist, one wonders?) It would be rude to say “when hell freezes over,” but this is what I’m thinking. Not that I don’t enjoy talking philosophy. If I were at the hotel bar at a conference, this kind of thing would be more than welcome. I’d make time for it at Pomona too. But not now. Not from home. Not when I’m on leave.

This is my Monday to Friday routine:
I take my kid to school, sit at my desk and read and write, pick my kid up, play with her; then there’s dinner, bath, books, and bed; then, if I can stay awake, I catch up with my husband or watch a movie.

But that’s just the theoretical routine. In practice, I lose time shopping for food or kid clothes, and every now and then I have to get the hairs cut or teeth cleaned or legs waxed, and there’s email, and making the impersonal phone calls that keep life rolling, and writing lists of things to do, and laundry, and lots of times I don’t feel like working so I blog or whatever. And what with one thing and another, my work week is probably 25 hours. And I’m going to take a precious day to come into* Toronto and have a coffee with you, you shmuck my dear friend? Like, if I went into* Toronto, it wouldn’t be to see my relatives? Or take the kid to the zoo?

I read philosophy slowly. I’m lucky if I get 10 pages an hour. My kid is high maintenance. She takes my full attention during the hours she’s at home. No, I’m not coming into* Toronto any time soon. No, it would not be good to meet up at the zoo and talk philosophy while my daughter does something else. No, I cannot call you on the weekend and chat for an hour; that’s Eila time. I want, and I have, a simple life.

I have to edit this post because I’ve realized that people might read it and think “she means me.” I don’t mean any of you. There are people reading this blog whom I’d go to Toronto for, or (more likely) Hamilton, and there’re people who come to see me and who don’t try to stop me from doing the things I need to do, like playing with the kid — and who play with the kid themselves. But, first, there aren’t very many of these people. Compared to most people, I have few friends. And, second, the people who’ve remained my friends are the people who understand my need for the simple life and whom it doesn’t bother. Other people dump me, and I don’t care.

* in to

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10 thoughts on “The simple life

  1. I added the little addendum before I’d read this. Because I realized people like you might think I meant you. I don’t. But I only don’t mean you, because you (and people like you) get it. Do you know what I mean?

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with Toronto, the city in which I live. So whether or not I am, as the case may be, into Toronto or not into Toronto, I nevertheless spend most of my time in to Toronto.

  3. Thanks wonderful Lynne! The edit is on its way. And have you noticed that I go back to each post the day after to fix the commas which, if I do say so myself, are extraordinarily well placed?

    Meanwhile, whoever the heck you are, keep it coming! Use stickers if you have to! I welcome corrections!

  4. Are said non-visiting friend single? Now that we live outside of the urban center where a lot of my friends live, we’ve run into the same problem. My friends who are in couples or who have kids are willing to make a trek, or invite us to make a trek and spend significant amounts of time inside and supporting each other’s lives. ie, they make community. Some of my single friends are too busy: yoga, gym, clubbing, dating, doing their own things. Not all of them, but some of them.

    Just a thought.

  5. Part of it, yes, is that people who live in the urban centre want you to come and see them rather than the other way around. We have always known that the distance from Toronto to St. Catharines is greater than the distance from St. Catharines to Toronto.

    Also part of it is the thoughtlessness of some people. I remember a Pomona student who ran into me at the door of my house and expected me to stand there talking about her work when it was friggin’ obvious that my kid needed to have her school stuff put away and be integrated back into home. For the student, the child did not exist. And some of my recent let’s have coffee-ers are like this too. They’re mostly married with children, but they’ve arranged their lives so as to make the children irrelevant: either they’re men of the ignorant sort, or they have massive daycare and nannies, or they drag their kids around and train them to shut up. And I just wouldn’t sacrifice either my reading/writing time or my Eila time in the same way they would.

    Which means, i guess, that what I’m really saying is that I’m not much of a social being. I love a house full of people, but only if we’re all doing our own things. (And of course that doesn’t go for my actual friends, whom I love to see.)

  6. But I haven’t actually found my single friends more busy. There are really only two people who come all the way to visit me in St. Catharines and they’re both single. I don’t have a very wide sample, obviously.

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