On Repeat

Old turntables had a feature that allowed you to repeat-play endlessly (Photo: Ubergizmo)

Recently I found myself thinking about things I’ve done over and over again, even when there were other choices. For instance, Rom and I visit his parents in Sussex every year, and we spend time in London and Brighton. His family lives halfway in between. There are lots of reasons – convenience, enjoyment, so many things to do – but it has become a relaxing habit, as opposed to planning a visit to a new place. We have gone to Stonehenge and Stratford together, and a weekend in Paris, and we have a list of future trips, but London and Brighton keep calling: Come back! You know you want us!

I travelled to family reunions within Canada every year for 10+ years and I still prefer doing that as opposed to spending my travel budget on new locations. Maybe having that long-standing tradition has affected my whole outlook toward travel. I also lived away from my extended family for 15 years, so being able to see family is my #1 priority.

My area has lots of festivals that I go to every year: Canada Day, Natal Day (civic holiday), Buskers Festival, Tall Ships Regatta, Film Festival, Fringe Festival, Pop Explosion and more. Plus there are always theatre and symphony subscription series.

My UU church has lots of annual events and so does my parents’ church, and I go to them all.

Tegan and Sara (Photo: IndieMinded)

I don’t always seek out what’s new. This week I saw Tegan and Sara in concert for the third time! They are my favourite musical act. Other bands I’ve seen at least 3 times are Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, and Owen Pallett (ex-Final Fantasy) – all Canadian – and Def Leppard 😊 I’ve seen countless bands twice.

The movie I’ve seen most often is The Lion King, which Link watched 40+ times as a young tyke. I love the musical and know the whole soundtrack. On my own (adult) time, my most-watched movie is Rocky Horror Picture Show which I re-watch every Hallowe’en. I can sing the entire show, and have seen a stage production, too.

When I was about 12, I read Judy Blume’s book Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret on repeat for about a year. It’s a book about puberty and friendships among girls, but I liked the family and religious angles. I think I read it 17 times. I must have found it reassuring. As an adult, I read M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled several times during difficult stages of my life. I still retain lessons from it. But the last time I read it, I found it insufferable, so my endless loop on that one has ceased. Maybe it comes from being happy now!

My favourite cartoon character

During another tough time in my life, I watched sit-coms on TV every day: The Simpsons and Roseanne. I don’t have cable TV now and don’t watch any sitcoms except on DVD: Big Bang Theory, Portlandia and Flight of the Conchords. Still pleasant escapes!

I like a mix of new restaurants and old favourites. Rom and I have been to the local veggie spots many times over, and we always try out new places that have good vegetarian choices such as Turkish, Persian and Thai. When we just want to get out of the house and not cook, we go to our local Greek and never get tired of it.

I do a lot of other things on repeat because they are time-saving routines: making many of the same meals in rotation, prepping salads for weekday lunches, and so on.

Some things I do on repeat because they have to be done at certain times of the year, like planting bulbs or putting up the Christmas tree.

Recently I read a great explanation of why the years seem to pass by more quickly as we get older: when you are 10 years old, a year is one-tenth of your life. When you are 50 years old, a year is one-fiftieth of your life. There are so many things we do repeatedly that it all becomes a blur. That doesn’t concern me – it seems natural. If I had to re-invent my life every day, it would be terribly inefficient 🙂

What are your big repeats – vacations, books, movies, shows?

See also: ALL of Them


  1. Some of my repeats:
    music video: “Remind Me”, by Royksopp
    song: “Science/Visions”, by Chvrches
    book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee
    movie(s): the “Three Colors” trilogy – “Blue”, “White”, and “Red” – by Krzysztof Kieslowski

  2. EcoCatLady

    I think there’s something very grounding in repeated experiences. Of course a new adventure is fun, but there’s also something to be said for exploring the familiar. I enjoy watching favorite movies over and over – Tootsie, White Christmas, 12 Monkeys – I find that each time I do, I notice something different that I hadn’t picked up on before. Bike riding is sorta like that for me too. We often ride the same routes over and over, but each time, I’ll find something in the scenery that I hadn’t noticed before. And there’s something very comforting in knowing the territory through all the different seasons.

  3. Ha! I just drafted a post about holidays. I like the new. Mr S likes going to the same places. Mr S also likes to turn outings into repeats. As in, if we have a fun outing, he wants to repeat it. I’m happy to explore a new place/event and if it isn’t as good, the fun is in the trying something new, and talking about the comparison.

    My repeat reading is Pride and Prejudice and the Little House books. My regular walk is “my loop”. I rarely vary it. I actually miss it, not being able to walk at the moment.

    • I like doing new things and going to new places more than Rom does. As soon as we do something new once, he wants it to be an annual tradition! I think you have said the same for Mr. Sans. I have a few walking loops I do!

  4. Tomorrow, my spouse and I are going to an art festival. It’s an annual event, and one we’ve attended many times in the past. We will likely attend many times in the future.

    There are a lot of local/semi-local (in-state, reasonable driving distance) fairs and festivals that we attend regularly/repeatedly. There is a sort of comfort in the repetition, and a building of our overall ‘take’ on an event/happening the more often we go. “Remember the year that ___________ happened” and “__________ is much better/worse/bigger/more interesting/more diverse this year compared to __________” are common observances in conversation. It’s kind of… I dunno, inclusive(?)… to feel like we’ve been a part of something communal over a long period of time. It’s a way of feeling connected, I think. To each other, to community, to a place and time.

    There are other things we do together repeatedly out of comfort or familiarity of routine or ease of access. We have our favorite restaurants that we re-visit, our favorite trails we continue to hike, our favorite movies to watch, etc. I think, in a way, those become – over time – “our” things.

    Most relationships are like that, though. There are things I do with my mother, with my co-worker, with my friend, with my paramour… Different “our things” with different people. There’s reassurance in that, I think. In being able to say “This is Us.”

    I can see how it could lead to stagnation though, if there’s NEVER any variety. I like to try new things and visit new places, but I also like to repeat the positives. A blend of the two usually makes for the best experiences. 🙂

    • That is so true – having a history of “our things” with different people – great for bonding, comparing and reminiscing. I do like new things to mix it up, too!

  5. jbistheinitial

    I am very much a repeater. Partly – when considering vacation destinations, places to eat or bars to visit – it’s because my anxiety can really kick in when I’m in a new place. I also visit the USA, Canada and South Africa more than anywhere else because I have family there (hello free accommodation!) but they’re all such vast countries with such diversity of options that I always see and do something new even if I return to the same city.

    But I also repeat films, TV, books and music, often preferring a reliable old friend than a new experience I may not enjoy so much. One thing I’m trying hard to do recently, though, is take opportunities to see new things so that I don’t become completely old and boring before my time!

    • I think anxiety is a factor – such as learning the public transit system in a new city. Rom and I both tend to research quite a bit before we go somewhere completely new. Then I can enjoy without worrying “Is there anywhere to eat in this neighbourhood?”, “Can we afford to have lunch at the museum?” or “If we go to the show, can we still get the last train back to the hotel?”

  6. I like repeat – we did 8 years in Scarborough (a Yorkshire seaside resort) when our girls were 0 to 8. Every year we had to go to the Tree Walk, the maze, the little train round to the North bay etc and each year we took pictures – the same backgrounds whilst the girls grew a little taller each time! Then we did 3 years in France!!
    I must be a repeat person every time I discover somewhere new I have to go again.
    Now I am worried I might be repeating myself on my blog!!

    • I know that feeling! Doing the rounds. Kids seem to love repetition/traditions. And then I would love seeing their reaction. I have so many pix of Link at annual events – first day of school, apple picking, Halloween, etc. A little repetition on a blog is always good, otherwise it would have no theme 🙂

  7. Aside from the annual family holiday traditions, we have some repeat trips. Every year my wife and I go camping at the same site in the Thousand Islands. My parents have made a habit of visiting every summer and we go to the horse racetrack. My best friend from home visits every year and we go to a roller derby match. We go with another couple to Cape Cod every Memorial Day weekend. I like having these repeats because it takes the planning aspect out, which when other people are involved, can be a real pain!

    • Agreed! Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel when you already have an activity everyone likes doing. That reminds me, I have never gone to a roller derby match, although there is a local league!

  8. Never, was my spontaneous response. Always new, always challenges, always forward. But, then, yes, I’ve read Helene Hanff 84 Charing Cross Road fifty times, and I know the Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy Sayers by heart and I re-read Pop-Co by Scarlett Tomas five times in a row before I bought my own copy and returned the library book… So maybe I do repeat (and yes, I do read fiction. It’s just the same books over and over again.)
    And we do go to Paris for the man’s birthday most years, although we always stay in different areas and do different things. But then even if we go back to our favorite museum (Cluny) it is always different, because we have always changed since last time and see different things and react differently. So even if same-same, we are always different-evolving! Does that make sense?

    • Makes perfect sense! I have been to the same cities and many of the same places over and over, but it’s possible to have different experiences, or as you say, bring something different to it.

  9. Fiona

    You watch Flight of the Conchords! 🙂 We have watched that on repeat so many times that it holds lots of those family one-liners you just mention in passing, with everyone knowing the reference. We have some kid movies like Lion King as well: for us, more the Toy Story and Nemo movies. Repeat holidays for me would be the road trip up and down the East Coast of Australia (kind of a Rite of Passage thing for Melburnians, travelling north in the cold seasons.) I have several repeat books that I read in times of acute anxiety! One of them is ‘Alive’, which somehow comforts me by comparing to that extremity. And lots of music repeats, of course 🙂

    • I love Flight of the Conchords – I have the DVDs. It is the perfect hipster indie music series. I suppose it would be reassuring to repeat-read a book like Alive when you know the ending and the positives that came out of it. Not for me, though. Rom has been watching all the Despicable Me/Minions movies lately, and all the Shreks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: