Oct 8, 2019

The Blandos

The small TV in the kitchen is on. From my seat in the living room, I can't hear what show is keeping him company, just the background sound. I bet it's an HGTV rerun.

I hear him drying the dishes. It bothers him to have pots and pans and my plastic drinking cup, with its hard plastic straw, drying on the counter. Even when he was working, drying the dishes was a priority. He'd get up from his desk in DC and walk to the subway, hop on, transfer trains, all the while carrying his heavy black backpack full of office work that he'd look at after dinner. Then, once in Virginia, he'd walk to the shuttle bus, wait, and board the bus for the 10 minute ride home. He'd hop off, walk home, and climb the stairs to the kitchen. After kissing me hello, he'd park the backpack by the stairs, and still in his suit, pick up a dishcloth and dry the dishes I had placed there to air dry while I was cooking.

It is important to him to have clean counters, to have everything in its place, to have our lists of things to be done checked off one by one. Once -- once!! -- he left his shoes in the living room and I immediately knew something was wrong. I wondered if he had died. (He just forgot them.) The world, he, must be fine, as the counter is empty, the bills paid, the credit reports reviewed, the trash taken out, the furnace filter changed -- all on schedule. It's taken me awhile, but I'm on board. Routine is our joy. Sometimes I dry the dishes too.

Someone once called us The Blandos. It wasn't meant as a joke; rather as an insult. But I knew, even at the time that the words were spit out, that they came from jealousy. The person dismissing our life  had a life in chaos. I understood.

But it got to me. Bland. Tasteless. Boring.

I used to worry that we were missing out on life. We haven't been on a safari or a cruise to Alaska. We don't eat out much and we stick close to home. Staying up past 9 is a distant memory. But I don't worry about that anymore. Sometimes nothing is more sweet than listening to the same sounds every day, eating the same meals, watching the same TV shows, all with someone you love.

Perhaps that's why the past few years have pushed us off kilter. Living in Belgium for a few months, hospital stuff, surgeries, the move to Dallas -- this isn't the life of The Blandos. But here we are, back to a routine. It's a new routine. We miss our old one. We miss our friends and our neighborhood and the DC skyline. There's a lot to miss. But, one year later, and there is a lot to embrace, particularly our son. It was the right move.

Now I hear him turn off the kitchen lights and turn on the back porch light and the alarm system. He's walking to the living room, carrying his tiny white bowl of wavy potato chips, a beer, and two (not one, not three) Hershey nuggets. I'm in my seat on the sofa near the lamp and in a few seconds he'll join me on the sofa in his seat, on the opposite corner. We turn on Lester Holt and the NBC Nightly News.

Life, gratefully, is bland again.


Vikki H said...

Kudos! Thanks for the reminder that life is good with the person you love even if it looks quiet.

Marie said...

My Grandson asked, "Why does Papa want the house neat?" We too have a place for everything and usually have everything in it's place. The mail gets away from us sometimes. And because we are still working and up every morning at 4:30; we are very blandly in bed by nine. And that is not enough sleep. We do sleep till 6:30 or 7:00 on the weekends.

My husband would love our routine to be even blander than it is. But I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly and have commitments a couple times a week. Lately I've been combining my love of cycling and exercise with riding with friends. Two birds with one stone.

We long for retirement (3 years) so we have more time together....

Anonymous said...

Joan...we join you as the Blandos. Happy at 61, content each in our space, our routine as such. The question I asked myself earlier today...Am I being an active participant? I say yes.
His hobby is woodworking, he quietly blogs where no one can find him in a search engine about his woodworking, his garden, our travel any place the car can take us because I will not fly or take a boat.
I listen when he talks (which isn't a lot as he uses his 50 words each day at work!), he listens when I talk (which is usually more than him!), he happily takes pictures of my cards for me and I sew when he's in his wood shop downstairs. We will need to move when he no longer is able to check mouse traps but until that time, we will enjoy this quiet place at the end of a long driveway where no one can hear me scream if I ever needed any help!
It is our quiet place of contentment and happiness.
Bland is good. Retirement is 4 years away unless something happens to change the plans.

MyLittleBlueDog said...

Oh my why would someone comment and call you The Blandos? We are all different and we should embrace that. Love a tidy house, if everything is not in it's place how do you find stuff? After 27 years in one house I knew where everything was... not now after five years in the new house I can remember where it was in the old house, terrible... I also feel this house is full of borrowers moving things. Embrace routine and I agree people are jealous! My life might be boring but it's mine and I'm fine with it.

Leslie Miller said...

Like you advised before, I remind myself that just because someone's life looks awesome on social media doesn't mean it is. Bland is a state of mind. My life would look very bland to most people, but I like my life. Thanks, Joan. I'm glad you're back to bland.

jill said...

This really resonated! I held my dying Dad's hand and we both agreed that we enjoyed and were grateful for our quiet, small lives... Love your blog and cards.

Karen @ Misplaced Mojo said...

I *love* this! My hubby and I have been together 25 years and I have grown to love the monotony of everyday life. When my mom passed away, my dad said he missed the things that used to annoy him. The slippers left where he would trip over them, the lipstick stain on the coffee mug. This came up during a conversation where I complained about my husband's coffee habit and mess that came with it. He told me one day I would miss it terribly, and I get that. We are very predictable at our age and there is comfort in that. We added a 1 yr old shelter dog to the mix recently when 1 of our 2 older dogs passed away. Man, does she hate that we are so boring and predictable! We're trying to make life interesting for her while at the same time trying to get her to accept the routine we have. Its been interesting! I can't help but think we should have gotten an old, fat dog instead!!! Would have been a better match 😉

Jennifer Scull said...

I am sorry that someone said something to you that was unkind. Sometimes life brings about changes that cause us to have a lifestyle alteration. That doesn't make it bad or wrong. We are different people with unique opinions and tastes. Every once in a while we have to slow down a bit. Rejoice that you have each other, live so close to your son, and have cherished memories of your time in DC.

As someone who is happy on the days that I can make it downstairs to enjoy dinner with my husband, or, on the rare occasion, spend time in my craft room, I completely understand that seasons come upon us that require a slower pace. Find joy in the everyday moments. Set aside the pettiness. Embrace the kindness of the special people in your life. Thank you for being in mine. :)

Carol Cel said...

I love this blog post - I love the Blandos - thank you for sharing, and for all the others that shared in your comments.

Julie Koerber said...

I absolutely adore this post Joan. You have such a way with words! Cheers to the Blandos! You just made me stop to think about the routine and how I should come to see it as a blessing. :-) I don't always!