I read fast. I write fast. And I’m finding this year that I talk way too fast.
And it has become one of my biggest problems because of sheltering in place this past year because Dave, my shelter buddy, is slow to speak and sometimes annoyingly decides not to speak to me at all.
This happened yesterday, and for some of the teachers in the room, you need a bit of background info. We both just turned 65, so in our state, we qualify for the vaccine. Illinois is notorious for county control, and there are many, many counties. Our county is still trying to get with the program. We are second from the bottom with shot #1. Dave and I go to Dr.’s in opposing counties, and I think my Dr. recommended me for the Covid vaccine before Dave’s did. So I promptly signed up with a personal code and am going Saturday to a hospital in a different county; I guess county doesn’t matter when a hospital administers the vaccine.
So Dave is silent and has seemed upset for two days. I volunteer to keep checking Walgreens for him. He says he doesn’t want to keep checking.
Yesterday we skied together, and he is out in front as usual. Dave is so competitive even at 65; I muse as he trots up each hill like a mountain goat. I go up with my legs in V formation so I don’t slide back to the bottom; I forgot who taught me that crazy technique.
My right ski gets stuck going up the hill in an icy drift, tangled up with roots and weeds. My left ski keeps sliding, sliding… until I’m almost doing the splits.
I yell, “Hey, you up there— stop!”
Typical Dave, ignoring me because he’s mad.
He’s at the top now, and he begins to kick and glide. I’m stuck, and he’s having so much fun, probably hysterical at my predicament. I take my right ski off, pull it out of the drift, take off the other, walk uphill, crashing into the ridges on the side for some traction, sinking about a foot with every step.
I reach the pinnacle, jam my feet into my bindings, seeing Dave about 100 yards ahead. He stops, turns, and looks in my direction.
Cupping his gloves, he shouts. “You okay?”
I reach him, stop and spew, “I’m sick and tired of you never listening to me, you being so jealous of me because I’m getting the shot, and you being Mr. Expert skier and all of that.”
“I’m jealous? I always listen to your blah, blah blah. it’s my best strategy with you. ” And tell me, when didn’t I listen?”
When I yelled, “Stop when you were going up the last hill.”
“If I had stopped, I would have slid backward; I wasn’t at the top yet, you know? He paused, waiting for my response.”
I smiled. I hadn’t heard this amount of words from him in two days.
“Why? What was wrong? Were you stuck in your ridiculous herringbone you continually try to practice? Small steps are always better— you know that.”
I looked at his warm eyes and tender heart. I took a good slow look.
“Sometimes I go on and on because you don’t say anything back to me.”
“That’s usually because I’m thinking, that’s all.”
I knew that was maybe part of it, but the larger part was about me. I want a fast response and immediate attention, like the whole universe, revolves around me.
Dave just walked into the room asking me if he could borrow my space heater for a bit to warm up his snowblower, which wasn’t starting.
I looked at him and said, “Sure thing.”
He responded. “What, Nancy?”
“You’re a good guy.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I was jealous.”
“I knew that’s what it was all about. I know everything.”