A neighbourhood

A few hours ago, this was going to be a very different post. I'd had a few fun hours playing with Conky while my son directed adventures with the chess set that I keep on my desk. I'd signed up to the Met Office's DataPoint, and was playing with their API. I feel that much of my time with technology, particularly back in university and early in my career, is permeated with comparisons. I spent a lot of time focussing on where others excelled, using that to diminish what I did, what I accomplished, what I enjoyed.

Now, I'm just having fun. And realising that my thoughts about being trapped in this career, or strongly directed, were a product of my perception. As were many of my problems.

We got the kids in bed fairly early this evening, and so decided to have a rare night of television. We chose Won't You Be My Neighbor? — it pains me to misspell that — the film about Fred Rogers, and the television programmes he's famous for. We both ended up bawling our eyes out. My partner, British, doesn't even know anything about him! (Well, she does now.) It was a good film.

The part that Mister Rogers played in my childhood was unclear to me, for many years. I knew the sets intimately. Just now, when they cut to scenes of him presenting some of the main set pieces of the make believe world, I felt a rush of fondness, of love, for those buildings and homes, no less strong than for any of the toys I physically played with back then. When my boy was still in utero, the show's theme was one of the songs I spontaneously chose to sing to him, early on, and became a regular in the nightly repertoire.

I was a small child. Second smallest in my class for all of what we call grade school. I had thick glasses from Grade 3. School was a place to be endured. I tended to chose one, or maybe two, comrades to meet this daily challenge, and mostly, we parted ways at the end of each day. I could walk home for much of my early schooling: I think that says more about the times than the distance involved; one certainly had time to think. And I remember the feeling each time I turned on to Thomas Street; it still stretched out quite a way before me, but it was the branch off the artery of the main road that would eventually lead to my home, to my neighbourhood.

And it really was another world.

I had friends there. Friends who I wouldn't be able to see much at school anyway, even if I was so inclined: most of them were at least a year ahead of, or a few years behind, me. Oh, but the games we played, particularly as the summer holidays stretched beyond imagining. Flashlight tag, a game with world in the title that involved a chalked circle that spanned the road — no fear of traffic on Reid Street — slowly being carved up in negotiations and chalk tosses that are too fuzzy to fathom now. But, god, it was fun.

And I had Mister Rogers.

I didn't talk to the Reid Street gang about what I was feeling, the stability my world lacked, the, at times, truly terrifying uncertainty. I looked to Mister Rogers. And what he said, reinforced as it was with his different ways of putting it, of showing it in his dealings with others, nurtured something deep inside of me.

I came out of childhood badly damaged. I didn't realise this at the time, but it's something that I've come to realise, as a much happier person now. Also with the benefit of hindsight, is the firm belief that I would've been so much worse off without the love of that man, whom I never met, but love in return.

End of Day 14

— jlj #100DaysToOffload

I'm writing this as part of the 100 Days To Offload project; join us at: https://100daystooffload.com/