Time Traveling

I get easily disoriented, which I’m thinking is a result of working from home for all these years (and it being the same home, ditto the years).I love traveling, and (aside from a little packing anxiety) it’s usually fun and actually invigorating. It just takes me a few days to reset my daily schedule once I get back home, which I imagine happens to a lot of us.

I’m just saying that I’ve been traveling a lot in the past month, and I feel a little off balance. A routine spring trip to see my daughter and grandson in Austin was followed by the news that my mother was having some health issues, so I hopped back on a plane to spend some time with her, helping out as I could while she recovers.

Here I am, then. I stepped back into a busy schedule and haven’t really had a chance to catch my breath, which doesn’t help the acclimation process. Nor does my personal climate change, whipping back and forth between warm temperatures and plenty of sun to what we have here in the Northwest. Which is basically a Northwest weather caricature of rain and clouds, nothing momentous but GOOD GRIEF. Our normal rainfall in May is 1.97 inches total; Tuesday the area got 1.9 inches. We’ve moved way past having a healthy reservoir of water for the summer into stupid territory. Nobody needs this much wet.

So it throws me, as the sun we’re about to experience—for a longer stretch than we’ve seen since September, or maybe August—will also throw me.

My Arizona trip last week was pretty unremarkable, aside from sun. My mom needed rest, and she’s a blur on her slow days, always active and energetic, so my mission was to poise at the edge of my seat, looking for any hint that she was about to pop off the couch and do something dumb, something she didn’t need to do and wouldn’t enjoy considering her current shortness of breath. I cooked and cleaned a little, but mostly I hung out, playing visiting nurse.

I also walked the dog, and then just walked myself, taking advantage of the weather to soak up some vitamin D the organic way. And once again, I satisfied myself that even with my erratic exercise over the past couple of years, I show no signs of becoming deconditioned yet. I even ran a bit with this dog, not particularly fast but faster than a jog, for maybe a quarter-mile each time. Considering I was doing this at about 5000 feet above sea level, I have no complaints.

The most significant thing about this trip, though, has to be a new appreciation of my mom’s relentless search, in her retirement, through the wonderful world of genealogy. I’ve never been interested, my opinion being that exploring personal ancestry is an overblown exercise in vanity. I could document a direct line between my family and George Washington, and intellectually I’d still know it was meaningless. My great-great-great-grandfather and I share about as much genetic material as random strangers, or at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe (even basic math shows a bit more than 3%; even if it were George, way back when, he’d add another couple of iterations and we’d be looking at less than 1%).

But, as I wrote this week,  my inner history nerd got a little interested when I rummaged through her work. My great-great-great-grandfather was Lewis Sigars, born in 1807 in New Jersey (I got this wrong in the column), and just having a name and a date gave me a reference point to the beginnings of my country. I surprised myself by my interest.

And yesterday I found this.


I posted it online, sort of pleased with myself, although the obvious connection with Nixon and our current executive branch wasn’t on my mind. I was mostly thinking about newspapers, once I found my stash from the 1970s and 80s. Connecting the dots, I realized that we’re soon going to lose a pretty dramatic memory tool. We’ve got new ones, and the lack of physical, dead-tree newspapers won’t mean, I think, any less information on the past. It’s just interesting to hold the yellow pages and remember.

I’ve also got the paper from 1980 when John Lennon was murdered, as well as the July 4, 1976 edition (and a few later ones, including from when the Soviet Union self-destructed and the Nisqually earthquake 16 years ago). I have no idea what to do with these or how to preserve them, but I bet I can find out.

That said, I can’t help but see the Watergate comparisons that are floating around these days. It seems logical, but history can fool you. And more importantly, I realize that I’m an eyewitness, having solid memories of that time and my fascination with what was going on. Toss in a lot of books on the subject, and I could give you a good sense of what went on. And why the historical parallels aren’t all that historic, or parallel for that matter.

In fact, the comparison of these two presidents, Nixon and Trump, does a disservice to both (but mostly Nixon). Two different men, two different eras, two very different situations. President Trump appears to be lurching from bad news to worse; Nixon had a big brain and had been in the politics game a long time. I don’t see it.

I do see what’s going on, though, and I know that my concern for our damaged civics is outweighed by my curiosity. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I can imagine all sorts of moves before the history can begin to be written. I’ll be watching, and at some point, if something actually historic happens, I’m going to save a newspaper, you betcha.

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