In 1976, I went to full time school for the first time. I know this because I counted back on my fingers, there’s no memory of it. 1976 recollections are solely and exclusively about being on the Junior Every Women’s Club float in the Bicentennial Parade. There was a cooler filled with soda tucked behind a prop on the float. And I had unrestricted access.
From 1976 to 1988, I was subjected to team oriented sports games: dodgeball, kickball, softball, basketball, tag, kick the can, volleyball, baseball, an occasional wretched tag-football, maybe a soccer, badminton, or tennis here and there.
During the ritualized team picking, I watched the sky, heard the birds, found interesting rocks, wondered why some kids’ shoes got grass-stained and some did not, felt the texture of the weedy athletic fields under my legs as I patiently sat, observed the knobby knees of the other kids clustered in the pick-me corral, and now that I think about, made a start on the WideEyedLife.
Friends, I was last picked every time, and least played in the games. It was wonderful. Protected from the game by my team mates, I had time to pursue my own concerns in the outfield, on the bench, along the sidelines. I was responsible to no one, rarely sweaty, and free. Just, free.
Two days ago I lost my freedom.
“I’m thinking of getting a job in the corporate world,” I told two of the graduate students, we were talking about the passion of research versus practical income. “Being research faculty is great, but I really need to think about a secure retirement plan.” So young and still immortal they looked at me, all wide eyed, “What will you do?” one asked, clearly making contingency plans of her own.
“It is going to have to be writing or project management,” I told them, “It isn’t easy to translate a specialization in theories about prehistoric maritime Arctic foragers into jobs in the Outside.” There was a small silence as well all took a moment to feel sorry for folks on the Outside.
“Yeah,” one young woman nodded, “But I would pick you to be on my zombie apocalypse team.”
I reeled backwayd, stunned.
Friends, I had nearly four decades of freedom. I could not have predicted this threat. I would never have suspected that my years of field research in remote wilderness areas, decades of studying how people get by on the land and sea, and self-inculcation of small group dynamics theory would make me a tactically sound team pick for anything.
I guess the zombie apocalypse changes everything.