I used to be one of the most punctual people I knew. I remember, at 17 or 18, sitting on the curb, waiting for the others to show up for some event we were about to go to — and realizing this would be my lot in life: showing up early or on time and waiting. So I starting bringing a book and a notebook to write in wherever I went.
In my late 20’s my friend Matt Witten and I used to meet in Harvard Square for coffee and one of us was always late, though it was inconsistent which of us. We used to joke that whoever was later did it on purpose to show they were more famous.
Lack of punctuality became a sore subject in a lot of relationships. In my early-20’s I confronted a boyfriend about his chronic lateness and he said, “But I’m never late for anything important” — which pretty much showed me where I rated – and I got out fast.
Recently I met the husband of a woman I was interested to spend time with, and he told me she felt the same — but that if we made a date, I should expect her to be late. I’m sure he meant me to know that her lateness would have nothing to do with me, and so I shouldn’t take it as a slight, but the prospect of waiting around for someone who theoretically is interested in spending time with me was enough to make me avoid even trying to connect.
Enter Jonathan, my spouse-partner-person. Chronically punctual — which is just one of the things I admire about him. But guess what? HIS punctuality seems to be making ME less punctual! As if it’s only possible for one person in a relationship to be punctual at a time.
I generally DO get where I need to go on time — but at the last minute, so scrambling to be on time adds stress and anxiety to my life.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that I now spy on him to see what the heck he does to be on time. The secondary bad news is that I haven’t figured it out yet. So for the moment, I’m practicing by making small deadlines throughout the day — some as short as 2 minutes, using my trusty timer — and seeing what it takes to meet them.
Like, for example, simply posting this without re-writing it 8 times or adding an image, although …. ghhhn (sound of me struggling to NOT do something ‘creative’ that I suddenly reaaaallly want to do)… but, oh wait – I can always add one later — ahhh (sound of me relaxing and thinking – hey, I don’t need to do that part now!). Bllllagh! (me realizing this is exactly how I get into the rut of not ‘finishing’ things, which is another thing I struggle with). But (sound of me sitting myself down to give myself a piece of my mind) this is a BLOG! It’s a PLACE to practice. It’s a PLACE to not be ‘finished’ — that’s the whole POINT.
OK, my timer just went off.