Still a few more days in break. I admit I'm a little loath yet to go back home; that will mean hotter temperatures, starting summer research (provided my field site is not flooded, which would cause bigger problems), looming medical/dental checkups, and generally having to be 100% responsible for my own life (as well as other things) again.
Also, this morning, I got a text from someone from church: "Are you back home yet?" and my heart kind of sunk because I thought "either someone died or there's a major issue that they want me to help deal with."
I was unfortunately right on the first count. M., who had been the secretary for YEARS, had been undergoing some treatments, I thought she had the condition mostly beat, but no....she died in the hospital over the weekend.
This is really bad for her (adult: older than I am) kids; they lost both their parents within a bit less than a year of each other and I am sure that's harder than just losing one.
But selfishly, this means that not only will I probably have to pick up some other responsibility (at the minimum: I will probably be the one responsible for making the CWF yearbook now) but also my circle of people I regarded as friends has shrunk by one more.
And that hurts. Especially now. This past 2 years or so, I feel like my social circle has gotten SO much smaller, between people dying, and a few people moving far away, and a couple people I THOUGHT were my friends who turned out not to be. And making new friends as an adult is really hard! Especially last year when I wasn't going out and no groups were active. And anyway, I'm coming to realize what a closed society the place I live is: if you didn't grow up here, if you don't have kids/don't have kids in school here, there are not a lot of places for you. And I hate that. Even though a couple of the groups I was in didn't always "spark joy" for me and were more often a source of things I had to do when I'd rather do something else, I hung on, because I felt like "but who else would have me?" and that's really also how I did the friend thing as a tween/junior high kid - a couple people I hung out were not really that great of a friend (one was very picky and demanding, for example), I felt like, no one else wanted me around, so it was my fate to have those people as friends. (I'm actually surprised I didn't wind up "settling" and getting into a less than ideal marriage because of the idea of "well,, no one else wants me, so")
I don't know. I think something needs to change in our society to make it easier to find friend groups. Or maybe a lot of people are just really kind of limiting their associations to family now? And so those of us without close by family lose out? It's hard to know. But it makes me sad.
I also saw a news story recently about how some doctors and dentists are using VR goggles with nice scenery or things like aquariumscapes for people undergoing minor procedures; it seems to reduce anxiety and even pain and the comment one psychologist made was "people can't focus on two realities at once" and I think that is why for me, good diverting books are a necessity.
I decided to give up on "Home," which is purportedly an archaeology book about Britain; it feels to me more like the author is going "this is what I did" and "this is what my wife did" and "here, let me drop another name" and much less about what's been found or speculative reconstructions and...that stuff just isn't interesting. I started "How the Light Gets In" but realized I probably wanted to save most of that for the train trip back, so I pulled an Inspector Alleyn mystery I had left up here after a previous trip off the shelf and started re-reading it, and yeah. The world of privilege in which Alleyn operates (especially in this book - "Death in a White Tie," and I am still irritated that a to-me-sympathetic and endearingly eccentric character is killed off fairly early on, but whatever) is very different than my own, and I am sure there are things about it I'd HATE (the idea of debutantes and "seasons" and that 26 was considered unmarriageably old), still, there's something about that world. Unlike some people, I can't simply do the "Ugh, those people had SERVANTS, they were terrible people" thing and dismiss all of it. I think it's the idea that in most cases (yes, even in a murder mystery that comes with a side of high-society blackmail), it's a world that seems to run smoothly and nothing terrible happens on the edges of it. Like, I could be in that world as, I don't know, the maiden aunt of one of those wealthy families and as a background character, I would not be continually hit by the sort of unpleasantnesses everyday real life carries. I don't know.
I finished the Tailfeather scarf and the first of the Stroopwaffel socks (among some other things) and decided maybe I want to push on and try to get as much more done on the second of those socks as I can: it feels a bit like an exorcism to finish up projects I either started during the pandemic (the scarf) or had started long before it (the Stroopwaffel socks, which I think I was working on back in 2018, which was the REAL before-times for me.
Even here in Illinois, where things have been stricter, they're beginning to say "You don't have to mask if you're fully vaccinated" and you know? It's really HARD for me to unmask. I did when I got my hair cut but so far in stores I've continued to do it - it's going to take a while - and I hope no one tried to bully me out of it too soon, though I could see someone trying to do that. (A couple stores DO still request it, one had a note up that "we have several vulnerable employees, if you are not fully vaccinated please mask" which I guess implies it's option for those of us who ARE, but...)
It just seems to me that life has become more difficult and complicated in specific ways in the past couple years, and it's hard for me to feel "normal" or maybe a better word is "comfortable" again. Like, no matter what I do, someone will see it as wrong somehow. (And again, that plays on childhood issues for me; never wanting to cause offense, feeling like I was frequently apologizing).
I wish none of this had happened. I wish I hadn't had my fragile trust in my fellow humans shaken and my comfort at moving in the world disrupted so much, and I'm still asking myself "what are you supposed to learn from this?" and the only lessons I can come up with ("Don't trust people" or "stay home as much as you possibly can" or "Being attached to people only brings pain; try never to love anyone again") seem impossibly bitter and wrong. Maybe there is no lesson? I don't know. But something in me tells me that pain without some kind of lesson, or some kind of compensation later, just suggests a cold and unfeeling universe, and I don't like that either.