Playing by Heart and Hanging Out

by Elouise

 I’m playing by heart right now.
Also improvising and sight-reading.
Not much time for practice.
The opportunities and demands of each day change.

I’m a planner.
I like a regular schedule and a bit of predictability.
With space and time built in for whatever catches my fancy.

What do you mean, ‘We can just hang out together?’
I’m not part of the ‘hanging out’ generation.
I need to know what we’re going to do!
You don’t know yet?
Oh. OK.

Is there something I can do to fill up the time?
No? Are you sure?
You’re going to do everything?
Even cook the food and clean the dishes?

I don’t know what to do with myself.
Just sit here, you say?
Listen? Observe? Be quiet?
It that all?

This old age thing can get pretty complicated.
Sometimes I don’t want to listen.
I want to talk.
I want to tell my exciting stories—if I have any.
I’m not sure what to do next.

If I could just go wash a pile of dishes I’d be as happy as a lark!
What do you mean, ‘Are you sure?’
Of course I’m sure.
I’ve been doing that all my life.
Cleaning things up.
Getting them in order.

Because I can’t stand clutter!
Or not too much of it, anyway.
Besides, it’s hard to clean people up and get them in order.
Isn’t it better for me to practice on dirty dishes?

Are you really listening to me?
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not a social butterfly.
I love my family members dearly.
I also feel all thumbs right now.
As though there’s some required bit of hardware missing in me.
The bit that, as they say, greases the social wheels.

No, I don’t know where I’m going with this.
It’s just how I’m feeling right now.
Glad for a little down time,
even though my heart aches to be with my family members.
Not just in bits and pieces during the year,
but in a more sustained, back-and-forth way that puts us all at ease.
Especially me.

Maybe I’m afraid I’ll die or that
one of my family members might die before we see each other again.
What do you mean, I know just how you feel?
Who are you, anyway?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 June 2015

Written during a visit with family members from the West Coast,
and following a memorial service for a friend.