Once when I was 12 on summer vacation, I turned to my mother and said: “I’m bored.”
Her reply: “Only stupid people get bored. You’re not stupid. Go find something to do.”
I heard the challenge in her voice and hunted for that “something to do.” Finally, I picked up her copy of Gone with the Wind. And for the next four days, I did nothing but read.
There were household chores to do — vacuum, help make dinner, go to the market, dust, but all I did was read. I read even when the words were swimming on the page.
That entire time, my mother never said a word. She never yelled at me for not helping around the house. She just let me read. What an amazing gift from my mother, herself a voracious reader.
And I never complained about being bored again.
Never Again Until …
Never until this week — Week 6 of sheltering-at-home.
I’ve tried to keep busy. I’ve cleaned the house from top to bottom. Dusted so thoroughly that the last of the dust bunnies retreated to a property four doors down. Vacuumed so ferociously that the vacuum motor is moaning from exhaustion. And Windex-ed till I’m out of wind and Windex!
And while I haven’t quite worked my way through the entire cleaning “to do” list, I’m pretty darn close! So close, in fact, that Handsome Hubby couldn’t find his boxer shorts this morning because I’d rearranged his drawers the day before.
That’s not all. I’ve also been a cooking dynamo and a writing manic. Now, I know this doesn’t give me special bragging rights. All my friends are doing pretty much the same — cleaning like it’s going out of style, cooking like it’s a culinary competition, and engaging in creative pursuits like somebody is in hot pursuit.
Yet, when all is said and done, I’m ashamed to say it, but still, “I’m bored.”
How much cleaning, cooking, watching TV, going for walks, writing — WHATEVER — can we all do, when what we really want to do is see one another? I yearn for company and face-to-face conversations.
So, I stand corrected. I’m not “bored.” I’m lonely. Lonely for friends and family and heart-to-heart conversations. Lonely for acquaintances and chit chat. I don’t want to Zoom video conference. I want hugs, handshakes, and pats on the back. Also coffee klatches, lunches out, cocktails, and dinner parties.
But for now, I won’t rush things. I will do what’s right. Stay home, follow the rules, and yes, from time to time, figure out new ways to avoid the inevitable boredom that comes from staying put.
And so goes Day 38.