So of course it would have been more wittily postmodern for me to have posted this on actual Groundhog Day, which was last week, but I wasn't thinking about this then. Eh. Bygones.
In every pampered, first-world existence such as mine, there are all sorts of troubles. Loneliness, worry, financial insecurity of a not very threatening kind, intellectual insecurity about whether or not one's really any good at one's job, emotional insecurity about whether or not one's really lovable. Loss and grief and bleakness of all manner of stripes.
The problem I'm having now, though, is sameness. All of the parts of my life seem to have an unremitting, slightly malevolent familiarity. I hear the faint strains of "I Got You Babe" constantly in my head. I'm just so damn bored. I can feel my eyes folding into Bill Murray's sad-clown corners in the face of the week, the thought of the same students, the same discussions with those students, the same seminars, the same things in the supermarket, the same books on my desk, the same odd hybrid intellectual/low-brow smalltalk, the same ritual dance that my dissertation supervisor and I have been doing around one another for four years, the same, the same, the same.
The sameness is not an illusion, but I know that the cracks in it are what keeps me from driving into a quarry with a groundhog at the wheel. If it were really the same day, I'd see the same things, always. The same people walking around at the same time, the same pigeon taking the same bath, the same puddle with the same leaf floating in it like a tiny crinkly brown boat. But I don't.
Last week, I was coming home from work earlier in the afternoon than usual and there was a boy walking ... perhaps to a music lesson? He had an earnest, slightly abashed posture, and carried one of those paper wallets in his hand, along with a backpack that dwarfed him. He wore camo-print cargo trousers and had mussy, mind-of-its own, straw-coloured hair which he smoothed every now and then, as he walked.
I thought how unusual it was to see a kid walking alone here. He seemed tiny, and sort of robustly fragile, like a dragonfly or a fine steel guy-wire. I suppose he must have been 10 or 11. I suddenly had a fervent, fleeting, staggering impression of what it would be to have a child, to have this big-small, breakable-indestructible, wise-innocent person wandering the world and smoothing his hair.
Today, the cherry blossoms are almost peeping out from their brown twig huts.