It Doesn’t Feel Like a Saturday

How many times have you said something like that to yourself? What is that, a reflex reaction to psychological muscle memory of what certain days “feel” like? This usually happens when holidays get into the mix, shuffling the pattern of days off.

Out with the Boston Terrier this morning on the Common I saw William in his stocking cap and long coat slowly oval-ing the track on the floor of the park. He’s out there every day, weather permitting, using the free outdoor fitness center behind his apartment at Bishop Markham Village. I don’t know anything about him, and our exchanges have been limited to “good morning,” but I did ask his name once. I’ve seen him out there for years, a solitary figure whom I’ve never seen talk to any of the other walkers in a cast that continually changes. He makes me think of my father toward the end of his life. He was a very private person, and William emits the same vibe. Through the years I’ve struck up conversations with other exercise-walkers and dog-people, but with William I just feel that I’d be intruding and making him uncomfortable. When I asked his name that one time because I wanted  to at least introduce myself, he seemed surprised and a little nervous, so I left it there. I’ve imagined all kinds of lives for him as I’ve watched him from my position on the track. In a way, for me he stands for all the unchronicled stories of people in the city. Every family, every block, each street has enough experience and drama to fill a book or several volumes. It’s all there. Look at what’s come of the Eklund-Ward group. They’ve got websites and Wikipedia pages. What if everyone in Lowell had a local version of a Wikipedia page? Would that be “history” in the extreme? I don’t know, maybe that’s where we have to go to reach the “deep history” consciousness that feeds a healthy community and civic life. The Facebook phenomenon is taking us that way. This year I’m going to jump into the FB flow with the hundreds of millions of others. I’ve resisted because it seemed to be one more thing to keep up with, but there comes a point when you need all the basic items in your tool box. We’ve all got a hammer, pliers, and two kinds of screwdrivers at least.

The January thaw is here on the first day. I’ve got the windows open upstairs to let in the fresh breeze. Best wishes and best of luck to all our readers, comment-makers, and to my blogging colleagues for 2011. Keep coming back to our place on the web. We’ll do what we can to keep it lively.

4 Responses to It Doesn’t Feel Like a Saturday

  1. DickH says:

    Just this morning I said “It doesn’t seem like Saturday” as we walked the dog around the neighborhood which was quiet at 8 am with few cars and fewer walkers. Folks must have slept in. New Years is one of those secondary holidays on which I don’t mind doing something other than commemorating the holiday (as is the case with Veterans Day, Memorial Day and a few others).

    As for William, I’m sure he’d have an interesting story should he choose to tell it. A big challenge for historians has been documenting the lives of ordinary people. Universal literacy (including the ability to write) is a fairly new phenomenon, so the average person lacked the tools to leave a written record but even after universal public education, many were just too busy with everyday life to document that life in some way that would preserve the historical record for those coming afterwards. But the tools we have today – a profusion of computers and apps like Facebook that record everyday life, plus digital cameras, recorders, GPS devices and who knows what else will leave a rich record for those coming after us.

    By the way Paul, my Facebook page is if you (or anyone else) wants to connect.

  2. Jason says:

    I felt the same way about Facebook Paul. When I first heard about it I told my wife I couldn’t see the need for it and why it would be useful. I held off as long as I could, but I too lost the battle.

  3. Marie says:

    You’ll be glad that you joined Facebook. Just use it in the way that works for you. I like the connection to family, friends and political colleagues – the photos of my granddaughters and other family members – the abilitity to have my say in a few words whether anyone cares or not about the weather, the deer, my meetings… I can link to my/our blog posts or an article of interest or significance. I’m hooked.

  4. Kim Scott says:

    I woke up this morning and had to quickly figure out what day it was and if I had another day off from work tomorrow. It is strange how our brains do not comprehend extra days off. The man you speak of reminds me of my grandfather who also was some what of a private man. He did however love to people watch and would spend hours doing just that and hoping that no one took the time to interact back with him.