Paying for the inconvenience
she gets up in the morning dissatisfied. Annoyed with herself she looks out the kitchen window at the Bullfinches feasting on the bird feeder, and wondersis life so bad? Why is this not enough for me? She pours a cup of tea and butters a piece of toast, it’s delicious, she wonders again, what is it about so many of us, that stop us from enjoying our greatest commodity- time itself?
She goes to the Doctor for her annual check-up, something that she has been doing since she retired from her job as a bookkeeper for a marketing firm. The Doctor is behind schedule; he keeps her waiting for an hour and a half. Looking around the waiting room, she wonders what the Mother and her young teenage boy are there for? It’s obvious what the elderly man with his arm in a sling is there for. His wife is there to look after him, but she looks like she can only barely look after herself. She supposed that they were in their mid eighties, they were running out of time. She had a while to go before she would reach that precipice, what would she do between now and then? She couldn’t clearly see an answer. Would she spend that precious decade and a half doing what she was doing, Just biding the time until there was none left? Checking her heart, checking her liver, making sure that the whole thing was tikkydeeboo so that she could do this? Go on being only half alive, following the same patterns every day, avoiding inconvenience.
She is a music lover. The town that she lives in hosts an Opera Festival every year, and although the music is not always as beautiful as Puccini, her favourite composer, she always makes a point of catching a few of the dress rehearsals in the hotel banquet room. While she is there, she runs into an old friend from long ago, he is thin and frail, fighting a serious illness. He might be dying, yet she notices he is full of life. He wonders why an attractive woman like her never married, she tells him that she likes the order of her own company.
He tells her that he has become a serious hi-fi enthusiast and that he only listens to vinyl. He describes his prized ceremony of taking the album out of the dust jacket, and gently placing the needle upon the edge of the album. And how much he loves foraging through old albums at record marts “They can tell a life story, one album had someone’s old wedding photo inside it” To her it all sounds so messy, it’s so much easier to play a CD or watch YouTube. But with all life’s ease, she was beginning to feel numb. She had her own Spotify Channel that only played what she wanted to hear. Then she remembered the first pleasure of listening to Tapestry by Carol King, letting one side play, before picking it up and turning it over, unfolding all those wonderful songs. Alas, in the 90’s she deemed that vinyl was taking up too much room, and gave it all away, she wonders how can beauty take up too much room.
Confronting herself now, she wonders, is her life too sanitized? Does she only walk on straight roads, without hills, or twists, or grass to mow?
How could she fix this? Her life was too orderly and sensible. Perhaps a turntable would be a good place to start, she wanted the beautiful inconvenience of what her friend described, and she was willing to pay for it now.