I went to therapy the other day, for the first time since November. I had some feelings stored up, as you might imagine, most of which I will not scatter here like so many breadcrumbs to the depths of my psyche, because honestly, there are better uses of those breadcrumbs. But the one hilariously true thing we talked about was how I need a vacation.
Even writing this, I am realizing how this is not me being on vacation. I mean, on many levels I am not—that’s why I need it, because I don’t have it—but it’s especially hilarious to feel the light strain of trying to say something light and charming and marginally honest to keep up my ten-years-running near-weekly streak of posting these comics, when what I was actually told to do was relax.
I was bored a lot as a child, which I say as a compliment to my childhood. I mean, I had wide swaths of time when my brain was more or less in the present. In the summers, when there was so little to distract me from myself, everything felt endless, for better or worse: days at the beach making duck lips from Pringles were excellent fodder for eternity, even in the way they ended with all of us kids on swings at the beach, watching the sun go down as if going down on civilization.
On the other hand, the year we decided to watch a soap opera every day at noon felt endless too, that one hour dragging from day to day into a continuous loop in my psyche; so too the summer when my older sister was deep into MTV and made us watch the video for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” every time it came on (which was a LOT), even though I hated it, and felt that I was in fact actively falling into a black hole every time I watched. (Not a black hole of death, even, but rather a black hole of ugly hopelessness, which was my take on the video itself. I was sure I was going to fall into the screen and onto that set and be surrounded by those terrible fishbowl-faced pod people, which now that I’m saying it feels connected to my contemporaneous fear of lobotomy patients taking over the country, lobotomizing more and more people, until we were all walking around half-conscious.)
(Now, according to my therapist, I am conscious much too much!)
Anyway, that childhood boredom. Where did it go? I feel time so keenly now, in my desire to move through it as a person becoming, evolving, on-going. Which is not a bad way to be; I don’t wish I had less sense of purpose. But I wonder if I could spend several hours lying in the grass, watching the clouds, and doing nothing, anymore. It feels like a skill I lost, though to be fair it’s been a while since I lived in a place with any kind of lawn. Sometimes I lie on our brick patio in the backyard (my other option being gravel; yes, we have chairs, but I am looking to be completely recumbent) and that can be nice, the way the bricks are warm even once the sun is off them; one year we kept finding dead bees on that patio, and I think it was a quirk of heat, wherein they came to warm themselves up on the bricks, but didn’t account for how quickly the bricks would later cool. Or maybe not. But they were there every morning.
The patio, dead bees notwithstanding, is a nice place to spend some time, but the mythology of my youth demands grass, and blankets on grass, and daisy chains. Probably I’m over-estimating how long I actually spent at peace, doing nothing, feeling the boredom course through me. Probably I complained a lot. We got huge stacks of books from the library, and we watched a lot of TV. But I also climbed the plum trees in the back yard, I also filled a child-sized garden patch with tomatoes that grew to jungle proportions; I also ate cherries off our tree in a bowl, and looked for four-leaf clovers, and I don’t know why I’m romanticizing all this so much, because I don’t want to go back and be a child. But I guess something can have romance because it is gone forever. Perhaps that’s the purest form of romance.
And I did book myself some nights in a hotel, if for no other reason than that I can now brag to my therapist that I took her advice on the first try.