The Long Way Home 6.16.23

It seems the older I get the more time I spend thinking about how I got through the stupid and evil things I did to become the WOKE person I am as I end my seventh decade.

Much of the stupid and evil is lost to my current memory but I have a partner in crime, The Bohunk, to fill in the dark spaces. 

Jim Harrison, in his memoir Off to the Side, writes, “It’s amazing how ineffective a mind can be when studying itself.” You probably already know this.

He also wrote that he titled the book as he did because off to the side is, “a designated and comfortable position for a writer.” Preferring to avoid the crowds, this confession of his makes me feel better about myself.

The other night I was washing dishes after a wonderful supper, a sometimes tedious and sometimes joyful chore that I’ve been doing for a number of years, along with setting the table for the dinner service. At least since we returned to the paradise that was rural Cook County in 2016. 

The Bohunk is an excellent and ever experimenting cook and is always there for the pickup and clean up chores. On this particular evening she was standing alongside me with a dish towel in her hand drying my handiwork. I love these times when she lets me be in the kitchen at the same time as she is. We laugh, rant, and sometimes cry together and after 50 years married there’s nothing bad about that.

Looking wistfully out the window while scrubbing a stubborn pot that night I opened my mouth to see how much of my foot I could get in it. After expressing my satisfaction with spending time together each night in the kitchen I went on to say, “It seems like I didn’t do much dish-washing before we moved back here.” 

In response, she reminded me that in my earlier decades I thought of kitchen work as women’s work. She usually prefaces her reminders of my stupid and evil things with, “Remember,” when I obviously do not.

Then I was reminded that with four kids, a couple dogs, and one or more hamsters living with us in suburbia  I was busy building a corporate and career ladder. She wanted to get a part time job to make a spot of pocket money while getting exposure to the adult world. I, a sanctimonious blowhard said, according to her memory, which is still pretty good on the historical parts of our life, “You told me that as long as all the housework (women’s work?) was done, you wouldn’t care if I took a job.” 

Mea Maxima Culpa, I was a chauvinist pig in those early years on the baby boomer corporate rack. But after a great deal of reflection and work, I’m better now. I only wish I was more enlightened when our daughters were growing up.

Speaking of enlightenment, an unknown Zen master once said, “Before enlightenment, wash dishes. After enlightenment, wash dishes.” I wash dishes.


Sunday is Father’s Day. In honor, here are the words of Canadian poet, novelist and playwright Alden Nowlan. 

“The day the child realizes all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; and the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”