Always and Never Revisited

Man, was I uninspired the other day. Felt like I couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag. So I got out the “3-Ring Binder ‘O Clips” and started reading old columns.

The one that half-assed inspired me was the one I wrote in January 2006 about the words “always” and “never.” It was the first one I’d written in nearly four years, since I left the newspaper and bought my antique store in 2002.

Reading it again got me thinking about two years ago and how much has changed. I don’t own the store anymore. In fact, the son-of-a-bitch who bought it tore it down. In its place, he erected a metal storage shed. Definitely not a tit for tat swap. There was no “yin” in his “yang,” if you know what I mean. But as I reread that column, I realized that I “never” thought I’d forgive him, but I did. I thought I’d “always” mourn the loss of that beautiful old building, but I don’t anymore. “Always” and “never” are promise words with loopholes.

Below are highlights from the always/never column. Particularly ironic are the parts about the blog and being a democrat. They are a few of those “I take it back” moments. (Just so you know, my voter registration card arrived today with my new affiliation boldly displayed. Gack. I’ll be changing back to Independent as soon as the primary is over, but isn’t it strange that my face broke out the morning after I became a democrat?)

I really mean it when I say that I “always” like to get your thoughts on my blog, and this time, of course, let me/us know your experiences with “always” and “never.”

Actress Gloria Swanson once said: “Never say never, for if you live long enough, chances are you will not be able to abide by its restrictions. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.” I often warn my children of the use of the word never and its fraternal twin “always.” Be careful, I tell them, because rarely are these two words used correctly.

On April 18, 2002, in my last column for The Clarion News, I wrote: “…this time I will not return. Really. I’m sure this time.” While not used specifically, the word “never” was implied. Convinced life was linear, I was never going to write a column again because I’d chosen a new profession, one in which writing for expression was no longer required. Lost in this new work, I was able to quiet that voice, or at least ignore it, because I was busy learning new things and didn’t need to listen to what it had to say.

It didn’t stay quiet for long, and recently it turned up the volume, becoming more obnoxious than before. It’s like music blasting in a teenager’s car with the windows rolled up. All you hear from the outside is the “boom boom boom” of the bass. The song is trapped inside. I’m glad The Clarion News agreed to open the car window so I can let that trapped song out.

I thought about writing a blog, a sort of online diary, but cyberspace can be a black hole and blogs get lost in an endless sea of URLs. I’m old school publishing. Black and white, baby. I like the feel of a newspaper in my hands, black ink rubbed into the grooves of my fingerprints and turning pages as I read, not scrolling through them with a mouse like I was playing Pac Man.

In the 187 weeks since my last column, life has pretty much done what it usually does to all of us – moved along at a pace faster than we might like sometimes, all the while throwing in some interesting scenery.

I’ve changed residences and will again in a few months. Country living is not for the faint of heart. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of septic systems and cisterns, and I prefer the noise and burn ban ordinances of the city.

Daughter No. 1 graduated from college and has settled on a nice boyfriend while Daughter No. 2, not to be outdone by Daughter No. 1, is in nursing school and is getting married this summer. She says it’s about time she gets to do something before her older sister does.

Stepson No. 1 is taller than his father and is counting down the days until he can drive (around 713). Stepson No. 2, a 7-year veteran of the Boy Scouts, learned to shoot a rifle last summer and still refuses to eat anything green. This includes the tiny flecks of basil that stick to a strand of pasta. It takes this child an hour to eat a plate of spaghetti with sauce.

During these 187 weeks, my husband and I took our first vacation in six years. We rented a little cabin in the Adirondacks near Saranac Lake. We faced medical challenges, put our sick dog to sleep, welcomed a new puppy, and grieved the loss of a friend and a family member. I turned 40 and got satellite radio. I’m still not a Republican and doubt I ever will be. But then, I’m not a Democrat either.

For 187 weeks time did what it always does: it kept going. Life is not linear. It’s about intersecting circles. And if I’ve learned nothing else I’ve learned the gravity of the words “always” and “never.” I will always be uncertain of what lies ahead of me and I will never know what works in my life unless I do it. The voice is always there. Understanding it is my never-ending pursuit.

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