Lately my standard commute to work has been torturous. Whether it is random accidents, or increased congestion due to the new homes and apartments being built in New Albany and points east, I am consistently enduring traffic jams on my way to the office.
I’m not a happy camper about it. There are few things more irritating than crawling along in stop-and-go traffic, trying to figure out which lane might have the accident or be most likely to start moving. It’s intolerable, and I inevitably reach the office in a foul mood as a result. It’s not good for my car, either. The interior has been severely scorched and some of the plastic fixtures partially melted by my more heated traffic jam epithets.
So, it’s time for a change. Living in the ‘burbs, that means I have two options: take the other route (because there really are only two options) or leave early. There are a bunch of homes being built on the other route, so I’m going to shoot for leaving 15 minutes early.
This is not as easy as it sounds, and there are risks. As Kish would tell you, I’m a creature of habit, and I like to follow my morning routine of walk, coffee, blog posting, get dressed, drive. I’m going to have to speed up the schedule. And all those accidents I’m encountering obviously have to happen before I leave at my standard time. Who knows? Perhaps the early departure time will put me squarely into the bad driver/accident zone.
It’s a risk I’m willing to take, because the traffic jams just suck.
This morning I took my last morning walk — for a few months, at least. It was a crisp, clear morning, like countless others where I’ve started my day with a brisk 5 a.m. walk around the Yantis Loop in New Albany.
Tomorrow I’ll have surgery on the toes of my left foot. Joints will be shaved down, tendons will be rearranged, bones will be straightened, and steel pins will be inserted. I’ll have to keep my left foot elevated for a few days, to keep the foot from swelling to the size of a pumpkin, and then won’t be able to put any weight on it for a few weeks. My recuperation period will end with a few more weeks in one of those fashionable walking boots.
I’ll miss my morning walks. I’ll miss their deep feeling of peace and solitude, I’ll miss the sense of routine and structure they bring to my days, and I’ll miss the chance to collect my thoughts and let my mind wander as I ramble along. I’ll miss the exercise, too.
But I’ll gladly trade a few months of my walks to do what’s necessary to avoid my left foot looking like the gnarled and twisted roots of an old oak tree.
Yesterday I was deciding what to wear to work. After careful consideration, I selected an old favorite — a camel-colored, nail head-patterned suit.
As I was removed the suit from its hanger I noticed some wear and tear along the seams . . . and then I saw, to my horror, that the fabric of the pants had worn through, at about the point the keys in my pocket would occupy when I sit. Apparently, during my last wearing of the suit — at least, I hope it was the last wearing, and I haven’t been walking around oblivious to a hole in my trousers for months — the fabric had endured all the keychain and wallet-induced tension it could stand.
I’m sorry to lose this suit. I’ve had it for at least 15 years, and it’s been a faithful member of the Webner suit rotation, hauled out and donned every week or so, winter, spring, summer, and fall. I knew which shirts and ties and belts and shoes “went” with it. That helped make getting dressed in the morning into more of a comfortable routine, where I could let my lower brain make the familiar shirt and tie selections as my higher brain focused on the day ahead.
A good suit becomes like an old friend, capable of gently giving you important guidance. This suit fit well, and if it started to feel a bit snug I knew it was time to push myself away from the table and work to lose a few pounds. Now I’ll need to find another suit to fill the not-gray, not-blue spot in my closet — and to let me know when I should start that diet.
Much of my morning blindly follows a routine. Get up, get dressed, feed the dogs, take them for a walk — all of it happens with mindless mechanical regularity. The first real decision I must make is the choice of a mug for my morning coffee.
Over the years, Kish and I have accumulated an eclectic collection of coffee mugs. We began with a set of unadorned white mugs, the kind you might see at a basic diner in any American city. We’ve added to that baseline through gifts, handouts at seminars or from hotels, hand-me-downs, and purchases at gift shops or college campus stores. We’ve got nice cups and saucers too, mind you, but those are for evening company, not the shot of morning java. Who wants to be fumbling with fancy saucers when you’re still bleary-eyed, moving from room to room as you get ready for work?
We’ve now got mugs of all colors, shapes and sizes. Each has its own feel and context, too . . . making the morning choice a particularly devilish one. I think about my work day ahead and wonder whether this is a day for a big black mug that holds an ocean of joe or for one of the basic, indestructible, well-used white mugs. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might choose the old-fashioned mug with the tiny round finger hole that looks like it might have once served as the mug where a barber mixed shaving cream before lathering up a customer. If it’s a weekend, I might go for one of our dog options — but I’m not going to select a puppy-theme mug if I’ve got a tough deposition on the schedule.