Thursday, November 27, 2014

old man winter

Old man winter was victorious last night.   Our plans to drive to New Jersey to stay at my brother's and then off to Philadelphia for a family Thanksgiving were undermined.

All day yesterday I checked the weather maps. Our route was marked by areas that would be hit with the worst part of the weather just about the time we would arrive.  I've lived in Buffalo and Albany and driven through some difficult weather.  This snow was not as heavy or deep as Buffalo storms, but the wintry mix made driving even around my home town dicey. Plus add in the factor that people in the northeast do not know how to drive in snow as well as folks in Buffalo, gave us pause.

The plan was then to consider if an early morning departure would work.  The streets were cleared at 6 am, but the temperatures were below zero.  We talked it through and said it was not worth the risk of a dicey ride and Thanksgiving traffic even for the overwhelming joy of seeing my clan.

We'll see.  Right now I feel like I do ten minutes after I buy an expensive item.  Did I really need that suit?  Or ten minutes after I don't buy an expensive item?  Maybe I should have bought that suit.

The thing is that when I go back in my history on the decisions I have made to do something, they are almost always the right ones. Decisions I have made not to do something, almost always--but not always--ones I wonder about.  Of course, when I have not done something one does not know what would have happened if I had done that thing.

(This is how my mind works early in the morning when I have not had a good night's sleep).

Some examples:

In 1983 I bought an expensive reclining chair and coffee table. Together they cost close to a thousand dollars.  I did not have a thousand dollars to pay for an expensive coffee table and reclining chair.  But I bought it.  In the middle of the first night after the purchase before the chair was delivered, I rocketed up in bed and said to myself, "Did you just spend 1,000.00 on a chair and a table?"  "How many times will you have to teach Introduction to Communication to pay for that chair and table?"

Meanwhile when the chair was delivered and I sat in it for two days, I decided that if someone would have stolen the 699.00 chair, in five minutes I would have gone to the store and bought another one. It was so comfortable.  Thirty one years later, with the chair as my mother would say "fashimilt" which means falling apart, I had to succumb to Donna's pleading, my friend Ken's ridicule, a family member's joke about the foam rubber coming out of the cushion, to finally bring the chair downstairs to the basement. It still is the most comfortable chair (and now sells for over 2K).

In early 1980 my nephew was having his first birthday party on a Sunday. I lived 9 hours away without any traffic.  Should I go, or should I not go.  I had a buddy who lived four and a half hours away.  On a wintry Saturday night I drove half way to the party. On Sunday morning I drove the rest of the way. I got a ticket en route.  So, exhausted and short 50 bucks for speeding, I arrived at the party at 1 on Sunday.

 In retrospect, having had the experience, the idea of missing that event and the joy I had there is beyond comprehension.  It was so much fun. I drove the nine hours back in time for my Tuesday morning classes.  No problem.

So, those are only two examples. On the other side.  I wonder what would have happened if I had done x or y, and decided not to.

Should I have followed up on a letter I sent that went unanswered.

Should I have taken the job in California.

As a general rule, I don't make big mistakes.  And I am willing to take risks. I think on the whole with a couple of glaring exceptions, I have made good choices.  Driving last night in an ice storm might have resulted in an exhilarating successful trip topped off with the deliciousness of spending time with my brother, cousins, nephew, and their children.  But I could have wound up around a pole.

Funny story. My dad always liked it when I retold this story. So, if you can access this dad, this will bring a smile to your face on this Thanksgiving Day.

In 1982 I rented a hoo hah apartment.  It was far beyond my means, but I rented it anyway. One bedroom, close to work, doorman, hallways vacuumed every time you turned around, super coming up if there was a fly on the wall, very hoo hah.  When I told my father I had rented it he made a speech.

He said, "Look. Spend some money buying furniture for it. Don't go cheap.  No second hand things.  You've got a nice apartment.  Decorate it. "

Now, I had just purchased a 120.00 mirror for the apartment. Very uncharacteristic. But it said "buy me" and I knew I would have it forever.  (And I still do).

So, I said to Dad, very proudly.  "Uh Dad. Not to worry.  I want you to know that I just bought a mirror for the place that cost 120.00."

His reply:  "You spent 120.00 for a mirror?  120.00 for a mirror? You know sometimes there are sales? What kind of mirror costs 120.00?"

I must have retold that story twenty times to Dad, and each time he smiled.

I'd drive to Chicago in a blizzard for one of those smiles today.

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