Work, work, work, turkey.

My vacation is over and I’m going back to work today. I haven’t unpacked yet.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Oh, that’s funny. Remember unpacking? Remember packing? I guess some people really are packing suitcases and flying to destinations like there isn’t a plague, but I’m not. I’m not because you are, so thanks.

Anyway, I have only a three-day week so I plan to pack a lotta livin’ into the 24 hours of work that I have. I don’t know what work is going to be like this week. Heavy with cramming everything in in three days or ridic with no work to do because it’s a holiday week? ‘Tis a mystery. A mystery I will uncrack like it’s Sunday night and I am the Hardy Boys.

There’s a photo I don’t have time to locate, but it’s one of my favorites from Thanksgiving week about five years ago.

At work, a huge ton—as opposed to a small ton—of us were on just one account. It’s all we worked on, just that one account. And for some reason, that was, like, a magic time. We all sincerely liked each other and we worked together really well. We had an entire floor to ourselves and it seemed like we had fun every day. We’d work really hard and there’d be, like, one little break in the day where we’d all discuss what’s the most old-man sandwich or what have you.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving they told us we could leave at 3:00, so we were readying to go. For some reason we had the dog daycare live stream up on someone’s screen. It wasn’t my screen, and I really can’t recall really why it was up, but Tallulah was doing something cute and a bunch of us gathered around a coworker’s screen and we were all smiling.

I know this because someone took a picture from behind that screen, of all of us smiling at Talu’s antics. She wrote a little caption about the end of the day before a holiday break and all of us enjoying a moment together.

I sort of long for that time. First of all, we’re all off that account and scattered around the building now. And lots of people are gone altogether, off at new jobs. Also, of course, of the people still there, I haven’t seen them since February 17.

And if you’d told me at the time that I’d long for that moment I’d have been shocked. That was in 2015, and I’d moved out of the house I shared with Ned and back into the house I owned. I was devastated that it hadn’t worked out. But I remember that whole fall as being golden and warm and full of really fun happy hours with those coworkers. Other than the breakup part, things were pretty great! I wish I could go back and tell myself, “Yeah, OK, but this is way better than being on month 9 of a pandemic.”

I also wish I could tell myself, “You just turned 50. This is the last moment you have to look remotely good. Go work it.”

But I did none of those things. I think I mostly went to happy hours and felt sad about my breakup and had no idea I’d lose Tallulah three months later.

Is there a time like that for you? A time that was technically bad but when you look back on it you kind of miss it and wish you’d appreciated it more?

My friend Sandy and I talk about when we lived together circa 1989. We both had jobs that paid, like, $7.50 an hour or something. We had wooden milk crates for tables and we went to happy hours that served free heavy hors d’oeuvres for our dinner.

And somehow? We wanted for nothing. Between the two of us, we owned every beauty product known to man. We shared clothes, in a now-depressing size 5. It was like we just had two closets. Dinner was all set, so we just had to figure out breakfast and lunch and often that was an oh-so-needed SlimFast.

We had everything! We were broke but we had everything! The guy in the next apartment even had a tanning bed, so our tanning needs were even taken care of.

I wrote a paper for a class and my professor returned it with a note: See me about a scholarship to England.

I mean. We had everything when we had nothing. Have I mentioned?

Some eras seem sort of bad at the time but they really aren’t, in retrospect. And some seem wonderful but when you look back you think, God, I wasn’t even myself that whole time. Or, Geez, I was pretending to be happy but really I was just irritated. At least that’s how it goes for me.

It’s just a few minutes before 8:30 now so I’d better get ready for either the deluge or the thimble of work coming my way.

Good times bad times, you know I’ve had my share,
June Zeppelin

45 Comments

  1. Happy THANKSgiving, everyone. Here’s hoping that by next Thanksgiving, it will be safe to gather with friends and family as in years past.

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  2. 1990-1994 – those were my happy days. I was in college, living with my best friend, working in a cool pizza shop with the most adorable hippies. Saturday night was out at a bar dancing our asses off (literally, we had tiny asses then. Now, not so much.) and spending Sunday morning doing the walk of shame to the donut shop where could analyze the night before. There were times we had to scrape together $3 to take an aerobics class, or split the last can of Spaghettios but my word, those days were so much fun. And we knew not to take it for granted – we really made an effort to appreciate that time. After I got married and had a baby (1996-7) I yearned, YEARNED HARD, for those days. I’m 49 now and I can honestly say, I have not had as much fun as I did for those four years. Which could really depress me if I think about it too long.

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  3. Oh this is a marvelous question. I love being asked to think about this! My answer is no. The bad times in my past and present are really bad & I’ve no desire to relive them. And the good times? Oh my god I love the shit out of them. And I remember that love being there in that moment. Some part of me would take a picture like I would be tested eventually on the details. I remember being 21 and Fit and lean and strong and bone weary from 3 jobs, full load of school…. turning off my car at the end of another long ass day and thinking I love my strong legs, I love my multi tasking brain, I love this moment right now. Or being sick and thinking, god how good is not being sick going feel, how yummy is cold chocolate ice cream on a sore throat? Or sitting quietly in a horse stall listening to the sounds of happy horses eating. I knew I was so lucky in those moments. I knew I had to memorize the feel of strong skinny legs, the sound of horses munching hay, the happy chaos and calms. The happy times overlapped with poverty, crap clothes, awful professors, straight up hunger and those horses were not owned by me… but the good was so good and luckily I knew it was good at the time.

    I know you will hate this comment, hate me, so I should delete & spare u. It’s interesting though. I don’t have some fairytale life. Wasn’t born rich or anything. I last bought shoes 4 years ago if that gives u perspective. Anxiety is my BFF. Not an optimist. I have migraines every day. Shit things like death and diseases with no cure have happened. Many things I thought were a Guaranteed will never ever happen. But I did & do appreciate the good as it’s happening. I’m human so I may have missed a few. But even now, Crap 2020, where I am sad and grieving, baffled and angry, I notice the small, few good moments. My cat. Him. Laughing. Running water. Toilet paper.

    I don’t want to go through this year ever again, but those good moments I will replay in my head. I was watching real careful at the time.

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  4. I think back to when I was in my twenties and I used to go to my parents house to see them. Sometimes my mother specifically told me to come at a certain time to eat dinner, but other times I would just stop over, and I can remember just how safe I felt each time I walked through the door. If she was making dinner of course a wonderful plate of food was presented to me too. My parents used to eat in the den so it was just so comfortable being with them, eating and watching a tv show, talking. During that time, it didn’t matter what boy had recently hurt my feelings, or whatever angst I was experiencing , it just went away.

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      1. I think back to when I was in my twenties and I used to go to my parents house to see them. Sometimes my mother specifically told me to come at a certain time to eat dinner, but other times I would just stop over, and I can remember just how safe I felt each time I walked through the door. If she was making dinner of course a wonderful plate of food was presented to me too. My parents used to eat in the den so it was just so comfortable being with them, eating and watching a tv show, talking. During that time, it didn’t matter what boy had recently hurt my feelings, or whatever angst I was experiencing , it just went away.

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  5. This is a great post. Old-man sandwich is a potted meat sandwich. That makes me want to barf just thinking about it. 1982 was an overwhelming hard year because of the workload created by 1,956 fired air traffic controllers in my region filing appeals trying to get their jobs back after they went on strike on August 3, 1981. I don’t look back at that time as being missed, but I do look back fondly remembering the co-workers I loved. Most of them are now gone.
    Tee

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  6. Oh this post! I’m an emotional, sappy, overly nostalgic mom of a college student coming home for the first time in 8.5 months – I’m basically crying at the drop of a hat between the excitement of his homecoming and the worry and stress that Covid has wreaked on us all. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for 9 months, barely holding it all together with spit & chewing gum. Thanksgiving always brings around the memories, mostly happy for all the wonderful times, but a lot of sad for the ones not walking with us anymore. Trying more than ever to focus on the present and be appreciative of what I have, tucking new memories away for the hard times. This post & comments really triggered a full on ugly cry – hiccups, snot and sniffles – clearly I needed a good pressure release! (better now than all over the poor kid when he drives up!) I’m thankful for June’s posts, sharing her words and world with us, and for all of you for sharing your vulnerabilities and lives with everyone, it truly helps in ways you can’t even imagine.

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    1. Three cheers for college students coming home! Mine arrives Wednesday afternoon and doesn’t return until late January. Am so excited!!

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  7. What I didn’t know at the time was the last time I saw my dad and the last time I saw my grandparents would be the last time. That’s why I truly enjoy each visit with family and am sad that we won’t be together for Christmas this year for the first time ever. Stupid Covid.

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  8. My mid-20s. Every month I wondered if I would be able to pay my rent, my car payment and insurance, my credit card etc. But they were also the happiest years of my life because life was an adventure and I had so much fun and did A LOT of stupid, ridiculous stuff but that was part of the fun. And I knew those halcyon days were fleeting so I enjoyed the shit out of them.

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  9. You ask the most interesting questions! And your faithful readers give the most interesting answers. This was like reading a bunch of terrific short stories. I think I’ve always known and appreciated the times I was happy at the time I was happy. If that makes sense. I vividly remember one beautiful spring day after I had quit my job and was just hanging out with my puppy in the park. He jumped up on the park bench to sit next to me. And a little friend of his that we were taking care of while his family was on vacation curled up at my feet. I had no where I needed to be except right where I was. And no one I needed to be with except those two puppies. And I enjoyed every minute of every minute. But at that time I was old enough to know enough to appreciate and savor it.

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  10. I can’t tell a story without making it boring but I know of what you speak. Good times mix with bad and thank God we can pick out the good stuff to remember. It softens the blows of life.

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  11. I would have chosen a meat loaf sandwich for the old man sandwich. Reading comments here, it looks like money really doesn’t buy happiness.

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      1. Oh certainly. I didn’t think of those because they are really obscure. Any deli/sandwich place though, is chock full of gray hairs ordering pastrami on rye.
        Also, ewwww, tongue.

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  12. I think we have all had those kinds of thoughts looking back. What I learned from them in my own past is to treasure each day, even if you have to look hard to find something good. I’ve found more contentment for myself that way. I hope you will too.

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  13. During “The Holidays” I get nostalgic for those moments I did not fully appreciate. Like when I was juggling life with a full time job, two children, a (pre-sick) husband and all the challenges that come along in life. I was tired and stressed. But now I think back and long for some of those moments. Husband has now died, kids have their own life, and I’m cooped up in my house trying to avoid COVID. Plus I’m getting close enough to end-of-life that I am realizing that I only have a few years left. Crap. Do I miss those days of yore because I was young and life was endless? No, I think I miss those days because of all the loved people who are no longer walking with me. “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” Thornton Wilder, Our Town.

    I hope for you, June, and for everyone out there, lots of Peace and Contentment. Love would be good too.

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    1. Thank you, Arlene. I wish happiness for you and that this Covid thing improves so your final years can be spent in more delightful ways.

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  14. I love when you say things that I’ve thought about but think I’m the only one who ever really thinks about things like that… it’s a satisfying discovery.

    I have so many of those moments – is that old age creeping in? I look back at times when I thought I would lose my mind – 5 kids 10 and under? 3 teenagers in the same house? All five of those humans with three sports each, band, piano, clubs, friends and God knows what else? – I miss all of it. Not the work or the worry or the chaos or the exhaustion… but I do miss the feeling of being, I don’t know – useful? Necessary? I knew I was the whole world to those small people. It was exhilarating. It was such a fulfilling time in my life and I regret wishing it would go FASTER.

    Thanks for validating my thoughts June… you have a way about you.

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  15. Thanks for the Zeppelin reference. I love them.
    Mine was in 2002. My sleezeball first husband just left and I was scared to death to be alone. I wasn’t even sad HE was gone, I just had never in my entire life lived alone. I look back and I had my dog and TV and nice big yard, but I was just so SCARED. Why? Now I am envious of people like you who don’t have to live with anybody and be told they do laundry wrong or what have you. I just wish I would have enjoyed it more and had realized being alone wasn’t all that bad while I was actually living it. Also, I was like a size 4 after that divorce. I wish I would have tried harder to maintain that. Or at least stay in the single digits.

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  16. 1982. I had just split up with m first husband, moved down into a teeny tiny house with my son, and after bills were paid I had about $60 to last for the month (I got paid monthly). On Friday nights I would take my son to the pool at the local rec center and buy myself one beer on the way home as a treat. I had no tv so went to same rec center to watch Hill Street Blues on Thursday nights. But I remember those times as such halcyon days.
    Thanks for your trip down memory lane that sparked one of my own. I remember that picture.

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    1. I love this, Linda. When I was first married we lived on $3,000 a year, each worked half time, and went to school full time, lived in crappy cracked wall married housing. But every weekend I baked chocolate chip cookies (sparing with the chips, one bag had to last two or three batches) and then we watched Mission Impossible. That was our only entertainment. I remember the joy of that one hour a week, the warm cookies and the theme song of the show. My next best memories (aside from my daughter’s babyhood) was just after I divorced him after 30 years and bought a tiny 800 sq foot house in GA. I would come home from working closing shift at Barnes and Noble so tired I sometimes had to sit in the car with my head on the steering wheel to gather the strength to walk to the door, but when I got inside and locked my door and lay down on my pretty couch in my darling little house I realized that each day I got happier and happier and happier. I had not known how deeply unhappy I had been until those sweet quiet exhausted nights. No security, unknown future, new city, new state and pure bliss.

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  17. Lovely post, June!

    Your post brought back the memory of driving to my folks house in Maine (2 hours) for Thanksgiving, when I was 20, in the 80’s, in a snowstorm, in a 1970 Volkswagen Super Beetle, with an ice scrapper in one hand (defrost didn’t work so well) and the radio blasting. Good times….now I’d be scared to drive that car and drive in a snowstorm. 🤣

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  18. This made me think about a time when I was truly myself. I was funny and smart and gorgeous and thin and sexy.
    I don’t know who the hell I am now.

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  19. Lovely post Coot.
    Yes. I have way too many of those times in my life.
    I remember barely having enough money for gas to get to work but life was grand.

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    1. I remember being young and poor with few possessions to weigh us down. Sex, basic cable, home cooked cheap meals and Saturday night one dollar movies at the old crappy theater were our diversions. I was deliriously happy being a newlywed. If only I could be that young and that healthy I could enjoy it now

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      1. Oh, Koala. I was going to type the same words, except we didn’t even have basic cable or one dollar movies.
        June, once again, your writing brings me to tears- both cathartic and bittersweet.

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  20. Thank you for the Zeppelin quote, I just sang along. My brother was a huge Zeppelin fan and forced me to listen to it when I wanted to listen to George Michael but now I am glad for my Zeppelin love and knowledge. That same brother also told me he was no longer going to buy my friends and I Bartle and James as wine coolers were not economical. Beer was an acquired taste and we were going to learn to acquire it god dammit!

    The time that I hated and seemed bad was living at home with my parents, especially my mom irked me to no end. They divorced after I graduated high school and I now know that she was focused on me so she didn’t have to think about her crumbling marriage and my heart breaks for her. Now that she has been dead for nearly 15 years I realize that was the best having someone who was so focused on me and my well-being.

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    1. Hi, Ho! Hi, Ho! I hope it’s not a deluge but a trickle and the three days don’t bring any drama (or migraines).

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