I am not particularly good at making things simple. That’s neither self-criticism nor bragging, it is just the way my mind works. Why would I want to go from point A to point B directly when a circuitous route is so much more interesting?
I always struggled with multiple choice tests in school, a serious drawback for someone studying the sciences. I would tend to choose an answer, then place an asterisk next to it, explaining that in certain circumstances D could be the correct answer and in certain other instances B would be right. Of course, those answers were always marked wrong, but I couldn’t seem to resist embracing complexity. Give me an essay question and I am home free, but don’t pin me down to the simple when life rarely is so straight forward.
I have served as the curator for our vacations for years, and I pour over all the pamphlets and websites to figure out the perfect places to go and activities to pursue. Marc started a tradition years ago where we would plan “bookends”—something special to do at the beginning and end of each trip. While those bookends started out pretty simply, they also got increasingly elaborate. I adopted a bit of a “more is better” philosophy to trip-planning.
I had no expectations for our staycation because we just had never just stayed home before. Here I was with a broken foot, an active puppy, and nine days with my husband at home. My only request was that Marc relax instead of doing a bunch of work around the house.
So, our staycation was simple. Marc slept in and had lazy mornings. I got up to take care of Gracie and to do my exercises. We talked, we read, we played with Gracie, we worked on a mystery puzzle. The puzzle was probably the only thing that was complicated. I bought it online, not realizing that it was actually two puzzles instead of one, with all of the pieces in one bag.
We went out to dinner one night, to an Italian restaurant overlooking Fountain Square. That was nice, but not as great as I thought it would be. I am home alone so much of the time. Somehow I imagined that the world out there is functioning like normal without me. It is just weird to be out in the world and see how abnormal everything is. This restaurant is usually so busy, but the shelf on the inside of the railing didn’t have a single person leaning against it nursing a beer. There were few waiters and few customers. It was just a little eerie and sad.
Marc suggested a spontaneous outing to Joseph Beth bookstore and that turned out to be a luxury and the highlight of the week. There were few people inside and masks were required. I felt safe meandering the different sections, just taking my time. Just being. Simple.
It is amazing to me how much I enjoy just spending time with Marc, even after thirty-six years of marriage. He’s intelligent and funny and kind and he makes me feel good. Few of our conversations were profound or serious. I guess we meandered with our minds, going from one topic to another without any grand framework or notion of where we wanted to wind up.
It was all nice, and perhaps I have underrated nice all my life, just like I’ve underrated simple. I am as relaxed as I would have been after a week at the beach during normal times. I am probably far more relaxed that I would have been had we gone to Florida as planned. Nice was enough for me this year.
I know everyone has had plans canceled or changed or downsized these last few months. I expect that will go one for awhile. Learning to enjoy the simple was important to me. It allowed me to reframe my expectations and understand what is really important. Perhaps embracing the simple would help you as well?
Our ending bookend this year was a Google Hangouts call with all our sons. It was very simple and very nice indeed!