Change

December 16, 2009

Monday morning: I get up, brush my teeth and then make breakfast. I can’t stand to be awake with a dirty mouth. After breakfast, I brush my teeth again, brush my hair and put on the clothes I laid out last night. Then I tie my shoes while watching the weather forecast. After the weather, I walk out my door, carefully locking it behind me, and start my car. I wait exactly 3 minutes, then pull out of my driveway and take the same route to work, that I’ve been taking for the past 6 years.
Someone once told me that I exhibit the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, but I’ve never been diagnosed. I tend to think of myself as a neat, orderly person who prefers routine and perfection to spontaneity and chaos. I’m more comfortable that way. No surprises. That person moved on,  but I’ve stayed exactly the same. This is something I’m very proud of.
Monday, lunch time: I grab my lunch sack from the refrigerator. I made my lunch the night before. It’s a tuna salad sandwich on rye, baby carrots, a snack pudding and a can of lemonade. As a matter of fact, it’s the same thing I have every day for lunch, Monday through Friday. I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t like to deviate from routine. I think the most deviating I make, is when I switch from chocolate pudding to vanilla. I never go out for lunch. I always bring my lunch in, and I always eat it at my desk. Too much work to do to try eating somewhere else. Besides, the temperature in my office is perfect. Not too cold, and not too hot. I’m not guaranteed that kind of perfection anywhere else besides my home.
Monday evening: I take the same route I took to get to work, back home, just in reverse. I know. No variation. Occasionally, I have to make a slight detour for gas. I deal with that when needed. After I get home, I put my keys on the hook by the door, and lock the door. You can never be too safe. I watch the evening news, then make dinner. I brush my teeth and then there’s variation. Kind of. Since it’s a Monday evening, I’ll be running on my treadmill for 30 minutes. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings I run on my treadmill. Tuesday and Thursday evenings I listen to music. Saturday and Sunday evenings are dedicated to reading. See? I do have a little variation. Even if that variation is routine. After running, I take my shower and lay out clothes for the next day. This is followed by making my lunch for the next day, then I go to bed.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday all play out exactly the same as Monday. Just like they always do. It’s said that “Change is the spice of life”, but I don’t like spicy foods either, so I tend to avoid both. Saturday rolls around, and while most people are sleeping in, I’m going to the market to do my weekly grocery shopping. Afterwards, I come home, put away the groceries, and then head to my weekly massage appointment. You’d think that with all the routine, everything would be relaxed, yet I still seem to tense up my back too much. My masseuse is always telling me to take a vacation, or yoga classes. He seems to think that will help the tension in my back. Problem is, I don’t do vacations, and I don’t like change. Yoga classes would definitely be change. Guess I’ll just continue seeing my masseuse every Saturday. I already told you what I do with my Saturday evenings, so there’s no need to repeat. I think I’m boring enough as it is.
Sunday mornings I go to church. The same church I grew up going to. I sit with my mother in the fifth pew from the front, in the middle. We’ve been sitting there for the past 15 years. The first 13 years of going to church were spent in the third pew, right hand side, until one Sunday someone else was sitting there. That was when I discovered how much I disliked change. I was so uncomfortable that morning. Once the service is over, I go to my mother’s house for lunch. She usually makes fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans and sweet tea. She’s originally from the south. Later on, we will take a walk in the park, followed by a mother-son talk full of motherly advice to me. Then in the evening I go home, and as you already know, I read.
I read classics and fantasy novels. Sometimes my mother will talk me into a good mystery. Those are pretty rare though. I also enjoy biographies and historical works. Right now I’ve been working my way back through J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. He was brilliant! Unfortunately, I’m supposed to be on The Two Towers, but I can’t find my copy. This is very strange, as I don‘t ever divert from routine, which means I wouldn‘t have picked it up and taken it anywhere else. No matter, I now have a dilemma. I can skip to The Return of the King, not read tonight, or go to the bookstore and pick up a new copy. All options are diversions from my carefully established routine. This is not good. Why couldn’t this Sunday be like all the other Sundays?
I have decided to go to the bookstore. I just couldn’t bear to skip it, and I don’t feel like going to bed early, which is what I would end up doing if I don’t read. Once I get to the bookstore, I walk inside. This place is familiar and yet not. I know the layout, but there are all these people. Strangers. They make me uncomfortable. I make my way to the fantasy/science fiction section and look for Tolkien. He’s not hard to find. I reach for the book I need and hear a woman’s voice behind me, “Tolkien. Classic.”
Turning around, I notice a very pretty woman standing a little too close to me. She smiles and continues on as if I’ve somehow encouraged her. “Is this your first time reading Tolkien?” she asks me. “No,” I respond, “This is actually my tenth time.” She looks impressed and continues to ask me questions. I don’t understand. Why is this woman talking to me? I break free from my inner thoughts when I hear, “Would you like to grab a coffee with me?”
They say that old habits die hard. I completely agree with them. However, there comes a time when you’re offered the chance to change. That woman rocked my world. Before I knew it, not only had I accepted her offer and went to get coffee with her, but then I was asking her to dinner. Three months later, she had me going to Hawaii with her, on vacation. I never took vacations. Two months after that, I’m now going on a cross-country roadtrip as part of our honeymoon. She has accepted most of my routine, and only made a few changes. If this is love, I don’t want it to ever end.
Monday morning a year later: I wake up, brush my teeth, and make breakfast. Have I mentioned that I really hate being awake with a dirty mouth? After breakfast, I brush my teeth again. Then I put on the clothes that were laid out for me the night before, and watch cartoons while tying my shoes with my kid. After hearing Porky Pig stutter his way through “That’s all folks!” I kiss him on the forehead, kiss my wife, then make my way out the door, locking it carefully behind me. You can never be too safe. I get into my car, wait exactly 3 minutes, and then take the same route I’ve been taking to work for the past 7 years. Old habits really do die hard.
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