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jenni’s essay – month one

January 25, 2010

What is the function of waiting for stuff? After all, waiting is hard, isn’t it? Transport yourself back to when you were 8 years old and remember how you couldn’t wait for Christmas morning, your birthday or the end of the school day. It seemed to take forever! I swear some days I thought time wasn’t just standing still, it was going backwards. As I get older I realize my perception of the molasses-in January speed of time has changed to that of a hummingbird’s beating wings. This is a product of not only being the mother of three quickly-growing children, but also of our modern day, fast-paced, instant-message, call-me-anytime-anywhere-because-I- have-a-cell-phone world.

It’s really nice to have instant oatmeal, texting and your best friend’s Twitter updates, but most things are better if you wait for them. So, just stop for a second. Put down your cell phone, mouse and cup of coffee and think of a few things that just wouldn’t be the same if you got them ‘straight out of the gate’.

The first thing that comes to my mind is red wine and aged cheese. A six- month-old slice of Manchego pales in comparison to one that’s been aged for 12 or 18 months. Heck, I heard a report on the radio the other day of a guy who sells cheddar cheese that has been aged for over 20 years! Red wine, too, is much better after a waiting period. Popping open a bottle of well-aged Bordeaux, letting it aerate, then experiencing that first, luscious taste of liquid is a thrilling experience.

I live a scant mile or so from the ocean and can tell you there are quite a few things nautical that are worth waiting for. As a surfer I can tell you the right wave is one of these things. Being picky about the waves you ride saves a lot of time and frustration, as well as lots of nasty wipeouts. Sea glass is also worth waiting for. ‘When you find a silky-smooth nugget of pastel-colored glass that’s been worn down by the tides of 50, 100 or 200 years, it’s a cause for celebration. In my family we don’t keep anything that is remotely sharp, throwing it as far as we can back into the ocean or burying it deep in the sand to be weathered for another few decades. Blue crab and oysters seasons are also worth the wait, kind of like tomatoes and corn in late summer. These things taste so much better when you wait for them to come into season. Anemic, pale, mid-winter grocery store tomatoes don’t hold a candle to the tasty, plump, red, juicy version that can be bought at your local farm stand.

The parental side of me can guarantee you that it’s also well worth the nine month wait that comes with having a child. Not only does the little one get the time it needs to grow and develop, but also the prospective parents get a chance to get used to the idea of being in charge of someone else. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first or fifth child if you instantly had an infant to take care of you would instantly be losing your mind.
There are a lot of things in this world that I’d love to see happen ‘instantly’. As a child I wished I could snap my fingers and be anywhere in the world. I still wish this could happen but then the world wouldn’t be such an exotic and mysterious place. We have to wait until we get enough money to travel, obtain a passport and possibly the proper immunizations, get some vacation time and THEN take the trip. It’s the waiting and anticipation that makes it so special. Getting a well-deserved diploma or college degree is another thing that wouldn’t be so valuable without the time and waiting it takes to study and get the right classes during the right semesters.

So you see waiting isn’t all that bad. Without a little time-out every now and then we wouldn’t be half as appreciative of some truly wonderful experiences. Sometimes waiting is a necessary evil, as in the case of having a baby, and sometimes it’s a function of economy and time, as in world travelling. Whichever is the case, waiting for something to happen makes the experience that much sweeter. That seems to be one of the true functions that waiting serves.


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