The episode opens with the phone ringing and both Jeff and Mary lunging for the phone. Alex intervenes, but ultimately the call is for Donna. It is her Uncle Fred who announces that he is in town and coming to visit. Alex takes this news stoically. It is clear he is not a huge fan of Uncle Fred.
Fred arrives and is full of stories about his travels in Africa. He clearly loves being the center of attention. The kids adore him. Uncle Fred is clearly the kind who always speaks his mind and takes over wherever he goes. He criticizes Donna’s coffee and lays claim to the phone. The phone is essential to Alex’s practice.
He starts to butt in where he should not. He confronts a suitor of Mary’s and drives him away. He calls the mayor and berates him because the playground is closed on a Saturday. He criticizes Mrs. Adams, the mother of one of Alex’s patients and tells her she is overprotecting her child.
Alex has had enough and tells Donna that Uncle Fred has to go. Donna confronts Uncle Fred and her attempt to reason with him gets him more fired up. Donna runs interference and tries to smooth over all of Uncle Fred’s mishaps. Surprisingly, each time Donna approaches someone they have already forgiven Fred and found a pearl of wisdom in the encounter. Donna has a new appreciation for Uncle Fred.
Donna returns home. She has squelched all fires except she has yet to reach Mrs. Adams. She and Alex are in the living room and Mrs. Adams comes in. She says her son is on the playground getting dirty and running around. He is joyously happy. Mom is still concerned, but she sees the wisdom in letting go some.
Uncle Fred announces he has to leave and the family is reluctant to see him go. They realize Fred’s value, he shook them up and got them out of their comfortable routines.
When our lives are utterly predictable we are not really living.
There is no more domesticated animal than the human. I am, in particular, am ultra-domesticated. I love comforts, I fuss over my home, and for me food is not just sustenance but ritual and art. I have a cup of tea each morning. I like a glass of wine each night. I do laundry and grocery shopping on Sundays. I love my patterns and routines. They give me a great deal of comfort.
I could easily, heck I have easily, gone through weeks or even months simply following my routine. It doesn’t bore me and it is safe. I will admit that I get into ruts and need to be shaken out of my routine to do something new. I resist at first, but once I am in the midst of a change I generally find it exhilarating.
I married an Uncle Fred. He is always searching for the new. He speaks up if something could be done differently or better. He can sometimes come off as a bit abrasive or pushy. He is full of passion. Don’t tell him I said this, but he is exactly what I need. He keeps me from growing stagnant and moldy. He forces me to grow. I don’t claim to be particularly wise or self-aware. I have no idea how, at the young age of nineteen, I had the presence of mind to know I had found my perfect complement. It may have just been dumb luck. If so, I am so thankful for that luck.
Finding myself on the other side of the country, away from all my normal supports, I am way out of my comfort zone. Upon arriving in San Francisco I immediately fell back on old habits and worked to feather my nest. Then I looked for and found a job, though only part-time. I have been struggling with my newfound free time and what to do with it.
I hope this discomfort is leading to growth. I got up and did Bikram yoga for the first time this morning. It was torturous and exhilarating. I have been writing this blog and I have been applying to many,many jobs that are pushing me in new directions career-wise. This is still terrifying, but they tell me change is always scary. Here I grow.
Plan of Action
Take a deep breath and jump in. I can still have my tea, though. Right?