There an old Gene Autry song, "Back in the Saddle Again" which most of you probably never heard. (Who the heck is Gene Autry?) Never mind, I remember the song, and that was the song that came to mind when I got the email from my boss at the museum asking if I thought I was ready to return.
My answer was a rather tentative yes. In my heart I was ready to get back to it but I wasn't sure if my brain was up to the task. After all, it had been .................. awhile. This would actually be my second return. January 10th was the original date of the Great Museum Redux. After being gone nearly an entire year on a series of medical leaves of absence, on that sunny Tuesday early in 2023, with both excitement and anxiety, I stepped back into the museum to see what had changed, what hadn't and how much I remembered.
As it turned out, I did fine. I remembered most everything I needed to, learned quickly anything I had forgotten and the things that were new and I was delighted to be back at it. My boss got me integrated back into the schedule and things were looking good. The very next day, January 11th, is when I tripped and fell and broke my arm in two places and was back out for another three months. Dang.
So this was my triumphant re-return. I surprised myself by remembering my password to get into the computer (upon my previous return, I did not - that was a whole thing). I remembered all of the names, dates and history of this'n'that and most of the processes and protocols. I definitely lost my "touch" with the various quirky video players and needed help getting those turned on. (dang!) but I'm sure it will all come back to me eventually. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that I hadn't lost my touch with our guests. Without giving it a seconds thought, I stepped right back into that role, greeting, touring, guiding, answering questions and doing all the things a good docent does. Kind of an organic thing I suppose.
The thing I had forgotten, however, was how exhausting it is to be "on" like that for hours at a time. My goodness! Once I got home, I wanted nothing more than silence and a nap. Not water, not food, just quiet and a little snooze. I guess it takes more energy and effort that I realized to be a good host. And that's sort of what a docent is. Or at least it's part of the role.
Hostess, teacher, bouncer, security, fundraiser, housekeeper, secretary, librarian, information desk and retail clerk are only a fraction of what the job entails but I like it. It suits me. And I am very happy to be back in that particular saddle, once again.
On the other hand, the same week, I got very brave and for the first time in a long time, got back into another, different, saddle; the wheel of my car. Yikes. Turns out that I do not like driving any more than I did before. And perhaps a little less. It was such a strange sensation to be in the drivers seat again after so long (nearly a year!).
First of all I had to really gear myself up for it. " You can do this!" I told my reflection in the mirror very firmly. Second of all, I had to remember how to readjust the seat and mirrors. Honestly took me a few minutes and I never did get the drivers seat in the exact right spot which means that I had to sit up Very Straight and Tall to see properly (I had forgotten that there is a button to raise the seat vertically rather than just forward and back - oops) And I never did figure out how to turn on the water sprayer to clean the front window. Oh well.
Then, horror or all horrors, I had to back out of the driveway! Holy Cats. My heart was pounding the entire time. Please don't let there be anyone behind me that I don't see! (there wasn't) And then of course, I had completely lost my touch (that word once again) for the correctly applying the right amount of pressure to the brake pedal and found myself ever so grateful for the invention of seatbelts! I felt like an inexperienced, brand new, first time driver once again. Terrifying.
But somehow, I - very slowly - crept down the street (luckily the speed limit is very low on the island so it didn't bother anyone but the folks who drive too fast anyway) and made it all the way to the grocery store which is all of a mile away. Geez Sam! I had barely begun to achieve some level of comfort behind the wheel when I arrived at my destination with weak knees and my heart pounding. It took two tries to lock the doors when I got out of the car (Pushed the wrong button on the key fob the first time) But the fact of the matter is that I did it. Yay me. I took a deep breath, did my shopping, loaded up the car and after taking a few more deep breaths, made the return trip home safe and sound.
And I haven't driven since. But then I don't need to. Most of the time, other than grocery shopping, I can do everything the way I prefer to do it, on foot. But at least now I know that if absolutely necessary, if it is sadly essential, yes, I do remember how to drive a car. That particular saddle, I have returned to reluctantly.
The museum saddle is buckled onto a beautiful, well trained horse that is a pleasure to ride. The car saddle is strapped onto a recalcitrant old mule that bites.
But I guess the point here is that I am now officially returned to as "normal" as I ever get and that is a nice place to be.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.