Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My time-share existence

Work. Kittens. Yard work. Those seem to be the things that have occupied my life for the past month or two, but I actually do manage to squeeze in another thing or two here and there.

I have several non-intersecting groups of friends located within a two hundred mile radius of Nanticoke. Because these groups do not overlap, and because each group is separated from the others by many miles, spending time with any group of friends is usually an exclusive event: when I am with them, I am not with anyone else.

A few years ago, when I was well-employed and working a Monday-through-Friday schedule and driving a much younger car, this was not a problem. I might spend one weekend a month in the Poconos, two or three weekends a year in New Jersey, an occasional visit to Virginia or Maryland and another to upstate New York, dinner once in a while with friends from work or old friends from college, and then road trips every week or two with the friends who live locally. Even visits with friends living overseas once in a great while.

But things changed. We all got older. Friends got married, got divorced, had kids, joined bands, moved away. I lost some friends, made some new friends, and occasionally travelled far with them to visit some of their friends. I bought a house and took on all the responsibilities that entails. I lost my job, and then got a new job at a considerably lower pay rate and working hours that don't coincide well with anyone else's - just as the job market and the economy collapsed. My car got old, and then older still, to the point that I have to consider the possibility that it will break down on any given trip.

Still, I try to keep up, but I feel like I'm ignoring my friends. With so many of my designated days off devoted to yard work and visits to the veterinarian for the kittens, and with overtime always looming as a blessing and a curse, it is almost impossible to schedule the occasional day to visit friends. And then the question is, which group of friends will it be?

On top of all that, after a long hiatus I'm trying to date again. But this is also nearly impossible due to scheduling conflicts and the ever-present spectre of exhaustion. And time keeps ticking by. Days turn into weeks and months very quickly on my schedule. It only just recently occurred to me that this is Summer, and a friend of mine had told me she would be relocating to Pennsylvania for the Summer. Can we arrange a meeting? Probably not this week. I am scheduled to work tonight through Friday night, and will try to get overtime for Saturday and/or Tuesday night; I have a vet appointment with Thor and BlueBear on Monday, am planning on having a friend over to replace a fallen downspout on Sunday, and need to mow both lawns somewhere along the way. And she has her own schedule to contend with.

I have recently envisioned my life as a sort of time-share, in which competing interests reserve slots of time to do whatever it is they choose to do. Want to meet a friend for dinner? OK, we can give you one hour a month from next Tuesday. No good? OK, let's check the next available slot...

I'm sure there's been a science fiction story written about that. I thought that was the theme of John Brunner's Players at the Game of People, which I've never read, but the synopsis I just read doesn't sound too much like that. Maybe someone can offer some suggestions.

Anyway, my friends should rest assured that I am desperately trying to pencil them in someplace. Just not this Saturday, in case I work overtime, or Tuesday, for the same reason, or Monday, because of the kitten appointment, or Sunday, because of the home repairs, or...

1 comment:

hedera said...

Your schedule reminds me of an old joke from the Soviet Union. You may have heard this but you can't stop me.

The Russian goes to what passes for a phone company and asks when his phone will be installed. The clerk checks some files, and says, "Tuesday the 14th, 10 years from this month."

"Morning or afternoon?" asks the Russian.

"Morning or afternoon - what difference does it make? It's ten years from now."

"I need to know," says the Russian, "because the plumber is coming in the afternoon."