We’re waiting for a storm, here in over-sensitive, whingey, smelling salts-requiring Toronto. Yes: there will be SNOW! Radar and every single local news station say so. And we prepare, mostly by gathering in each other’s cubicles and talking about how fervently we hope we won’t see each other tomorrow.
We may well end up seeing each other tomorrow—but the waiting-to-find-out part is deeply satisfying. Which has made me ponder the act of waiting itself.
Having watched Buffy and Angel and sundry other series, Peter and Elder Daughter and I are making our way through My So-Called Life. When I first watched this show, I had to wait for a week between episodes. Now we’re doing one per night—which, tragically, means we’ll be done very soon.
Peter and I blew through Homeland. We gobbled up Breaking Bad three at a time. Rome, seasons 1 and 2, in a weekend. Yes, we had to wait for seasons to end before we did this—but the payoff was instant narrative gratification. Once upon a time, the waiting was everything. You had to be home on a particular night to see your favourite show. You had to peruse the TV listings to see if one of your favourite movies might be on that week. There were no videos, let alone DVDs. George Lucas refused to allow the (three real) Star Wars movies to be shown on TV for years and years after they came out. So you waited, never sure if agony or ecstasy would prevail.
And music! No iTunes to provide any track you might desire. No: you hunched over your clock radio, clutching your tape recorder, your second and fourth fingers poised to press “Play” and bright red “Record” simultaneously, should the song you desired beyond expression happen to come up on Q107′s playlist. (God forgive me, one of those songs was “Ebony & Ivory.” It was a Beatles-related madness. I ended up profoundly disappointed.) You trekked down to Sam the Record Man to flip through endless rows of records, and you carried your finds home and set them on the turntable* and hunkered down by the fuzzy brown speakers that were nearly as big as you—or maybe you found nothing, and went home cranky.
I didn’t want this to be an anti-technology screed. I didn’t want it to be a self-indulgent, “Just look at how pure and simple things were in my day!” paean. As usual, this is intended as autobiography, not sermon. And yet. I look at my daughters. I watch them download. I watch them watch things, right away, the moment they think of them. I watch them on iPods and laptops; I watch them message friends in fragments that don’t require an extra-long phone cord that wends its way through the family room and into a quieter, more private space. And I wonder how it feels to be so instantly gratified, so much of the time.
Waiting for Godot. Waiting for Guffman. Waiting for a Miracle.
The snow has started; I can see waves of it, illuminated by streetlights. The waiting feeling is still in me, though. What will the world look like tomorrow morning? I can’t wait to find out.
*Elder Daughter has an apple-red turntable at her dad’s, on which she plays David Bowie and U2, REM and the Beatles (though not solo Paul, with Stevie Wonder). Nothing, in fact, is purely ebony and ivory.