I have never used the term in my entire life. Back in the days when I did wear pajamas, I called them just that—pajamas. This might make sense to you soon, but surely not before I can explain myself.
The sentence— stated directly to the dog as she ran up the steps after taking care of some business— came out from somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind. It was a statement that I’ve not heard since at least 1973.
I’d slipped into a dream state while leaning over the porch rail and surmised I’d spent the day doing nothing important. Subliminally, I self-certified myself as lazy. I took a short drive to pick up a trailer and mowed the lawn, but nothing earth-shattering.
I didn’t even soil a kitchen knife when I squeezed creamy horseradish sauce across one slice of the whole-grain oatmeal bread utilized for my roast beef sandwich during a noontime lunch; too lazy. It was intentional to avoid doing dishes.
These were the things I was thinking of as Ellie investigated her domain. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her rustling in the dry leaves within the brushy border of my property. It also dawned on me that I should stand in amazement that there could be any dry leaves or duff anywhere within the boundaries of Maine. It’s rained for weeks—and that’s not hyperbole.
I experience those moments of catatonic thought. I stare at nothing in particular and listen to the sound of crunchy leaves and a light breeze fluttering the maple leaves. This year, they’ve been made enormous by so much liquid nourishment, so I think they flap louder. Passing traffic rattled me back to reality.
It’s silly to write about, but it’s clear to most of you who read my stuff that I write about many foolish things.
I’ve found myself alone, much more than I’ve been accustomed to for the past year. Not for the last few days, though. Since last Thursday, I’ve surrounded myself with family.
That party broke up late yesterday afternoon when my son and his family headed north for home. And closing ceremonies were finalized when I put my significant one on an airplane at five a.m. this morning. We had a good time.
I found myself just standing there, bummed out a bit. That’s not like me, but I am human.
Some of my reflections were focused on the past year, being retired, and some about being alone. I like it mostly, but it can land you in a place of gloom if you don’t stay busy. I decided to write for a while tomorrow but then head to camp to put an underground electrical wire across to the bunkhouse. For that to happen, I need to rent a piece of ditching equipment for the one-hundred-twenty-foot run. That’ll get me back in my stride. That will keep me busy, and I need to be.
As I waited for the dog to come back up the long stairs, I came to grips that the rest of the evening wasn’t going to be productive. Why force it? I would change into some writing clothes and take it easy—even easier than I already had it—it was lounge pants and hoodie time.
What came out of my mouth, looking at the dog, and surprising even me, was, “I think I’ll change into my night clothes.”
I took a minute as I walked back inside the house for the meaning of that sentence to wash over me. My grandmother, Leora, used that term exclusively when there came inevitable discussions about changing for the evening.
When it was time for bed, she’d say, “Timothy-Titus, it’s time to get into your night clothes.” I knew she meant pajamas. She said the same thing to all her grandkids, so I had prequels of clarity regarding the terminology. Sometimes she said, “Bedclothes.” I never once heard her say pajamas.
“Nightclothes” was the perfect moniker for what I wanted to put on and a phrase that must have lingered in my mind for a long time. It’s never manifested itself into words coming from my lips, I assure you. It stopped me in my tracks, but not because Ellie cared what I was about to do.
My grandmother passed away in the mid-80s, both hers and the decade. She used all kinds of antiquated terms, just like your grandmother did.
A slip of the tongue set me thinking about Leora and all her nicknames for me. One was a “Skinnymalink.” The other was “Timothy-Titus.”
Her voice ran through my head for a while, or at least for a few minutes, when I tried to recall it. I don’t know if I got the voice right, but I could hear what she said. That’s what matters.
It set my mind to wander further from the center for a few minutes. It wasn’t a resounding message from beyond; we’re talking about nightclothes here. Pajamas. Sleepwear. But it was a message from within that I heard loud and clear. I suspect Leora doesn’t want me moping around feeling sorry for myself; she never sat still, not for a minute. However, I believe that she wanted it known that it was okay to give up on the day. Be comfortable. Prepare for tomorrow.
This Skinnymalink will get at it bright and early in the morning, earlier than most humans do. For now, it’s okay to get into my nightclothes. Timothy-Titus likes to be comfortable, and Nana said that it was okay.
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,