Get off my lawn

December 30, 2010



Somewhere along the line, I became a curmudgeon. I did and I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I don’t act my age, but at the same time I’m pretty crusty about a lot of stuff. I don’t exactly mean to be. Does that just come with getting older?

I almost climbed a tree tonight. If it hadn’t been winter with a foot and a half of snow hanging around I would have. Maybe. The kids across the street do, why shouldn’t I? When I was a kid, I spent a notable amount of time in trees. There was a woods at the end of our street, and as I recall, there was one old, large tree that we climbed. Sometimes I went with a friend or two, sometimes I went by myself with a book.

My parents visited for the Christmas weekend. I always find it challenging when people—yes, even my loving mother and father—invade my space. I’ve been concluding recently that I’m an actual introvert, especially after reading this article (via mstori). I used to say that deep down I was shy, though anyone who’s spent any amount of time around me knows that I can get chit-chatty with the best of them—if I’m in the right mood and/or have enjoyed my favorite libation. 

Now I realize that the reason that I can talk to people quite comfortably—even complete strangers under the right circumstances—all hail the m-dash—is because I’m not actually shy. I just choose not to want to be around other people quite a lot of the time. (Sorry, friends, nothing personal. I know some of you understand.)

My choosing to want to be by myself, aka not deal with other people—even my loving mother and father—I’m sure is perceived by outsiders as being curmudgeonly. And perhaps so even by my mother. My dad’s the quiet one.

A few posts ago I wrote about three of my favorite movies, whose characters I could identify with. One of those was “Under the Tuscan Sun.” In the other context, I was admiring the main character, Frances, because she just up and stayed in a place where she was traveling for a random reason. I would like to do that. But that’s not where the similarities end, if I’m honest.

In this context, I must note that Frances is kind of uptight—sort of like me! Here again, I am and I’m not. In addition to the spontaneous geographical change she experiences, Frances receives several sage wisdoms from a woman who befriends her, Katherine. One by one, Frances embraces those wisdoms and her life gradually turns around.

One of the wisdoms Katherine expounds (not a particularly original one) is to never lose your childlike enthusiasm. For a number of reasons (this is not one of them), I always weep like a baby for much of this movie. Tonight I did not weep but I did get ever so slightly choked up when I was perusing a London map, when I realized how much I was enjoying this Lily Allen album, and when I was moved to tell my online friends how I feel about them—and I do!

But I digress.

With regard to the childlike enthusiasm, being around my mom this weekend made me think about that. She’s always chattering about something, she’s always asking 3,000 questions about whatever’s going on at the time. I mostly find it annoying. But why? Well, I think it might be just a little bit because she still has that childlike enthusiasm that I seem to have mostly lost.

And, for a third time tonight, I have and I haven’t. I am crustier than I used to be, it’s true. But these days I give myself permission not to fake it if I’m not really into it. Do you allow yourself to admit that you might not want to do what everyone else expects you should? Do you allow yourself to sit tight on that lack of desire to conform?

I do. I’m not trying to be superior. In fact, I feel rather inferior tonight. And I’m not pleased that I’m envious of my mom about something. Nobody wants to be like their parent, do they? And you really don’t want to admit that they seem younger than you—their offspring—in some ways.

My mom wouldn’t have climbed the tree tonight because she has two fake knees and one fake hip. I was just worried about what the neighbors would think, so I only stood below it. There’s a difference, not in my favor.

Take What You Take” © Lily Allen

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