I’m going to do nothing, and I’m going to do it slowly.Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige, when asked what he planned to do once he retired from baseball
Dearest Rachel –
It was a quote that my dad always liked to repeat about what he planned on doing with retirement, and it was something that I, in turn, aspired to when I got the chance to do likewise. And while it didn’t quite happen that way (since I got involved in using my work skills for both the church and camp), that’s a lot of what goes on when we visit Kevin down here.
It comes as a surprise to certain people that we do this; when I tell them we’re taking a vacation down to the Nashville area, it’s often assumed that we’ll be hitting the sights in the city proper. Even if I clear things up and point out that we’re actually staying in Franklin, which is square in the middle of the county to the south and east of Nashville (I’ve compared its distance and size in comparison to the adjacent city – not to mention demographics – to Naperville in relation to Chicago), it strikes people as odd that we don’t get out add look around that much. Most recently, Yvonne asked me about whether we’d be checking out the nightlife in Music City – the bar and club scene – like a normal tourist would do, and I had to explain that it wasn’t that kind of vacation.
I understand the confusion. It makes sense that a trip to the island is designed to ‘get away from it all,’ while, given our frenzied shore excursions when we would cruise to this city or that, we would be expected to check out the important highlights of somewhere more populated. And, depending upon the music one is into, there’s quite a bit to check out around here; I think at one point, we may even have thought to suggest looking into the Grand Ole Opry or something along those lines when we were down here one of these years.
But, of course, the main point of coming down here had to do with just being here with Kevin; just hanging out at his place, and doing… mostly nothing. Like ourselves, he has little to do with the city he’s living adjacent to, and sees little reason to bother with the place when we’re here, and, to be honest, we’re of no mind to insist on going out on the town on a nightly basis while we’re here.
We are also limited in – from both sides – and how much we really can do. This is the first year in a half-dozen in which we haven’t a dog to hurry home to after no more than a few hours, and it’s still taking some getting used to, even as we will leave to run errands during the day and almost forget about what (or rather, who) we have (or rather, haven’t) left behind. And then, there’s also the fact that Kevin has certain issues with extended periods of mobility. I’ve gotten to the point where I can walk for miles if it came down to it, but even a trip to the mall – were it not for the fact that such a journey would, when one came down to it, be little different from such a trip to those in our own area – would be exhausting for him. The idea of plunking ourselves in the middle of downtown Nashville, and just wandering around for a few hours, isn’t something the three of us could feasibly do together.
But it’s true that it sometimes feels like we’re sitting around in his family room, doing little more than watching old reruns together. There’s not even that same level of conversation between us that there used to be.
Granted, some of that conversation used to get pretty heated; Kevin, being a student (however independently) of deep theological content, would often engage me in discussions about various points of doctrine. I used to be able to hold my own in these discussions, and I think that, given the courses I’ve taken with Pastor Scott both before and after the accident, I probably still could, but I lack the enthusiasm for such verbal combat that I once had. I think that a lot of that has to do with the fact that abstract concepts are one thing, while actual experience are something different. It’s not that losing you has shaken my faith as such – indeed, I’d like to think that I’ve got that much more to look forward to in the hereafter than before, more even than, say, my parents at this point (which is weird to think about, when it occurs to me) – but it does render some of the more nebulous and theoretical aspects of theology and philosophy that much more remote from my lived experience. And it’s not something that is easily explained to someone with different life experiences (which literally everyone is, when you come down to it).
Politics, too, are a sensitive subject, and that’s even taking into account that the three of us are basically on the same side of the left/right continuum. There’s still so many points of contention that I see it as the proverbial ‘third rail’ not to be touched if one values one’s safety; Daniel, in particular, hasn’t come to that realization, and will go on at length about his beliefs if given the opening, so steering the conversation (such as it is) away from this precludes him from thinking about it. So, it’s a bit quieter on these visits than it used to be, as well as being less active than one from the outside might expect.
All of which is not to say that we are inert lumps in our various chairs – or at least, not all day. Given the state of the kitchen, and my own relative lack of skill and desire to work in there, we’ve basically resolved to take our evening (or late afternoon, if it comes to that) meal out at one or another place. So, while we may not necessarily be mixing it up in the thick of Nashville’s nightlife, we’re not holing up in the house perpetually, either.
And while several straight hours of watching the goings-on of Mayberry may not be the most intellectually stimulating way to spend one’s time, there are worse things to be doing. Indeed, those folks could give a master class on how best to do a whole lot of nothing in their own right, and still keep a generation entertained in the process, eh?
Anyway, I’ll talk to you later, honey. Keep an eye out for us until then.