A variant that worked

July 11, 2015

Yesterday morning Jordan left the house before I left to take a walk around the Res.  Some documents had come in the mail that I needed first to photocopy so I could scan both sides, and then to scan and attach to emails and send off to multiple parties, making sure the attachments were not too big for my commercial email server’s settings and making sure that my email program was not inserting an email address other than the ones I intended.  Then I filed away those papers, and a couple of others I had put off filing because it meant moving around stacks of cartons of files in the attic, so by the time I got out of the house, Jordan had been gone for a while.

So Jordan reached me by cell phone as I got to the Res, and he asked if it was okay if he invited a couple of friends over in the evening, to play boardgames and card games, and whether one of them could do a load of laundry in our machines while he was over, and I said it was fine, after reviewing what Jordan needed to do that day.  So when Jordan asked when I thought I would be back, I thought he was calculating when he was going to do something or other, either a chore or some prep for the game night, that he wanted to do before I returned.  I told him I thought I’d be another hour, and I didn’t pay the exchange much mind.  He had said, earlier in the conversation when I had asked where he was, that he was coming up the hill to the house from the bus stop.

And I took a glorious walk.  Saw a Great Blue Heron flapping over the water, saw small dark fish with iridescent tails in the shallows of the water near the shore, clambered down to the shore in less accessible places that seemed to have things that needed to be seen, found a sea shell and saw a rabbit.

So I get back to my house, climb the front steps up to the porch, and notice, as I am fumbling for my keys, Jordan’s messenger bag on one of the chairs.  And then I notice other stuff on the middle chair, and no, not Goldilocks in the third chair, but Jordan himself — he hadn’t left his things on the porch by mistake, but he was there with his iPad doing his millennial generation screen engagement thing.  I was a little surprised to see him sitting there.

I thought he had taken his key with him when he had left, but, as I learned, he had forgotten to.

After we clarified that, he said, “I didn’t want to tell you because I wanted you to take your time and enjoy your walk.”

I generally don’t like being deceived, and sometimes an attempt involving deceiving me has backfired royally, as when someone says they will come and help in some way, perhaps thinking that that sense of back-up will encourage me to do more myself and that by then I won’t need their help.  When the person doesn’t follow through, I have found my reliance on the promise and my continuing need for the help to be a difficult combination to deal with.  The reliance produces a shift in me that is difficult to undo sometimes.

But Jordan’s variant on this mix of inducing an attitude on my part and not being completely straightforward actually worked for me.  I had a great walk.

Jordan was absolutely correct that had I known he had forgotten his key, I would have been at best somewhat distracted.  It’s summer and he’s 23, so I wouldn’t have worried, but his waiting for me so as to be able to get back in the house would have been in the back of my mind to some extent, and I might not have taken as much time as I did on my walk and in my explorations and gazing, even though it turned out that I got back from my activities in the amount of time I had estimated it would take me and which Jordan had accepted without any discussion.

For me, this was an iteration of a pattern that had been quite painful rearranged into something quite pleasant, including my appreciation of Jordan’s considerateness and thoughtfulness and that he knows his mom and her issues.

That this episode involved someone returning home and another person waiting for the return had resonance for me, reminding me of a tradition of stories in which someone is told that someone will be coming back.  I had been thinking recently of a version of such a story, in which the little girl left at an outpost in the wilderness would have been much better off without the promise of a return by the grown-up, who told her he’d come back in part to make himself feel better and in part because he didn’t realize she had better coping tools than a false promise.  So my experience of a deceit involving a return home and a wait in which the elements have been reshuffled to produce happiness all around meant a lot to me — I like to think it reflects that progress of some sort is being made.

And Jordan had brought back with him to share with me a free chocolate candy bar that he had been given at a table in front of a yoga studio near his gym.  Priceless.


10 Responses to “A variant that worked”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Why would a grown man abandon a little girl in the wilderness? It’s not a plausible story. For that matter, where are the rest of the adults? It sounds like she was abandoned more than once.

    I like your story better.

    • Diana Moses Says:

      One of those “the group has to move on and we’re leaving behind someone whom we’ve decided we can’t support” decisions — in one version she has too many disabilities, in another people think she’s possessed or a “bad luck charm,” in another, her mother was the problem and after her demise, no one wanted to deal with her child (or children — in some versions, there’s a younger brother).

      • Matthew Says:

        What do you think the right resolution in each situation is? Always keep the child? What if they’re being pursued and will be slowed down and caught if they maintain the burden? What if they truly believe the child is a curse? It seems to me the root of the problem is the abandonment, not the dishonesty (tho, of course, there are problems with that too).

        I’d say the hardest case is the disability that puts the rest at risk. I believe benevolence can sustain a bad luck charm (good is stronger than evil); the act of grace is, itself, protective (and the act of abandonment of a child is, itself, a curse). But when the actual burden would sink the ship and all on board?

        Another quandary; flip the equation – what do you do when the little girl insists on remaining in the forest, with or without you? When you can’t move on without abandoning her, and if you stay, you suffer? You know better, but she doesn’t listen.

      • Diana Moses Says:

        Good question.

        Do we know why she is insisting on remaining in the forest?

      • Matthew Says:

        One’s shame (curse?) is reflected in the recognition of others, especially those who know one well. Alone, one can forget oneself.

        Or/and, it reminds me somewhat of the Greek situation. Their choices seem to be perpetuating a miserable (and clearly unsustainable) status quo, borrowing more, digging themselves deeper – or admitting defeat, breaking away from the failure, and starting over, even tho it involves a huge cost upfront. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”.

        If one is cursed, as such, then the only way to become uncursed would be to unbecome.

        “The old saying crippled becomes whole Is not empty words. It becomes whole and returns.”

      • Diana Moses Says:

        I’ve had more trouble with ATMs during the past month than I ever have (3 times in 4 weeks), but while I am sorting out the problems with the bank, we always agree that at least the problem isn’t like those they are having in Greece (the problems I’ve encountered have turned out to be machines malfunctioning in various ways, so even when I haven’t gotten the money I’ve asked the machine for, that money is available through a teller).

      • Matthew Says:

        Taken together with the United Airlines computer crash and the NYSE computer crash market freeze, it seems our modern systems are breaking down (perhaps with some help (ie. China retaliating for American meddling in their markets)).


  2. Matthew Says:

    What if, when it comes down to it, the girl wants to be abandoned?

  3. Matthew Says:

    *and Guam (our Western-most (closest to China) outpost) being disconnected on the same day as the rest;


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