time: like a clock of the heart

Actually, it’s nowhere near that poetic or new romantic. To be honest, I’m ready to see the past year put in the ground. I’m just shy of a week away from my birthday and one gets into a state of reflection, thinking about the years past, but most especially the year past and it hasn’t–in my opinion–been the greatest one. Even ignoring the fact that I am slowly, but surely creeping out of my 30s, the September 2009-2010 period did not see any really high points from my perspective. Plenty of good times, no doubt, and I won’t discount that there’s a general level of fun that we sort of relegate to background noise and begin to take for granted. Fun times with friends, good meals, road trips, things that if they only happened once in a while, might feel more special, but happening all the time, it’s just this constant thread of good stuff that helps to ameliorate the low points. Still, it’s hard not to focus on the low points:

The biggest blow–or so I thought–was having to move. I’d been in my place for years and I loved it. It never occurred to me to look for a new apartment as I always expected that renewal letter to arrive each year. The property managers were pretty horrible, but my landlord was very cool… even after I got the e-mail saying he’d need me to vacate, I still thought he was nice. I reserved a little bit of bile because I hate moving, but he was nice about it. Still, moving meant picking up and finding new roots and unfortunately my neighborhood had sort of over-gentrified so finding a new place and staying in the area was just not in the budget. So I moved to a place that’s right across the street–literally–from my office. They’re luxury flats, concierge, gym, rooftop deck, pool, the works. It’s also a pretty crappy place to live because the surrounding area isn’t built up at all. And while my commute is great, seeing your office every time you take a walk or go to the metro starts to weigh on you. You feel like you never truly get away from it and it throws off the work/life balance–so much so that come the end of this year, I’ll be looking to move again, likely back to my old neighborhood. I doubt that I’ll end up connecting again with the friends I “lost” by moving away, but that’s really life in DC. Once you move more than a few blocks or metro stops away, some friendships just become too inconvenient for people to maintain. Sad fact, but true.

Not long after moving came the battle of the bed bugs. To listen to more current stories, you’d think that having these little bloodsuckers in your life and home is one of the more psychologically traumatic things that could happen to you. It is. Even though they weren’t a severe case in my old place, I suspect they moved with me to the new place and with a smaller area to cover, they became rampant. I’m feeling phantom crawlies just writing about it now, which is odd because I’m totally nonallergic to bed bug bites. If I hadn’t seen them more and more with my own eyes, I likely wouldn’t have ever done anything about them until it really was too late. I never felt them, my bites never got red, irritated or itchy, but I started seeing them everywhere and while my current apartment’s management did schedule and pay for extermination, I feel like they’ve never forgiven or forgotten me for it. Before that incident, none of them even knew my name and now they greet me by it every single time they see me.

Even so, I ended up getting rid of my bed and mattress, my living room furniture that I’d had for over 10 years, I put everything I owned into Space Bags. I didn’t go out much, more from embarrassment about it than anything else, and maintained a very small rotating wardrobe until it was all over. But thanks to friends, I got through it, got shopping, and haven’t seen a single bug since extermination… that doesn’t mean that I still don’t look for them, however, every. single. night.

(And a note to all the media outlets that insist on leading your recent bed bug stories with a huge picture of a bed bug or in the case of a recent Express issue opting for a page design akin to an infestation–for which they actually used images of stink bugs, not bed bugs–STOP. It’s disgusting and may get you the visceral reaction you’re looking for, but it really just freaks out anyone who’s entomophobic or is actually dealing with the bugs.)

As I said, I thought the biggest blow would be moving, but this past Winter, I lost my grandmother. I’ve kind of said all I need to say about that, but there are people that you think will be in your life forever, and that the passage of time won’t have any effect on them being there. It’s really hard when you have that illusion shattered by illness and death. She was the glue holding my mother’s side of the family together and when we lost her, a lot of things changed. Some for the better, others not so much. You remember the good times, of course, and the way family and friends came together to honor her passing was beautiful, but I still miss her a lot.

Again, I wish major life events would stop trying to outdo each other all in the span of a single year. They could at least try to space it out a bit. Every time I’d think this or that was “the hardest thing to deal with,” something else was lurking around the corner. What I was hoping would be a fun Summer, where I might plan an actual vacation or at least take some time out for me turned into the Summer of Cancer. Yes, it was caught early enough and I was asymptomatic aside from external skin lesions, but once I got past the doctors smiling and telling me everything will be OK after they determined a good prognosis, after I got used to being pricked and poked–except for the bone marrow biopsy, which still stands as the worst pain I have ever felt–and having your blood taken every other visit, and after I’ve been strapped in, clamped down and locked/held in position so I can go through scans and radiation and I make it through to the end of treatment… I’ve still got cancer. No amount of snark-worthy Lifetime movies could have prepared me for it. Even though the radiation treatments finished a little while ago, I still get tired every now and again though I admit that it could just as easily be from work stress or simply a lack of work satisfaction.

Since I couldn’t really do a Summer of Fun, I’m going to try to look ahead to Fall. Since the Summer heat got really oppressive, aside from going from one air-conditioned place to another, being out and about wasn’t high on my to-do list anyway. I’m looking forward to crisp mornings and pleasant days and the Autumnal Equinox starting a week after my birthday. I really want to get the next year in my life off to a good start. I’m sure there will be high points and pitfalls along the way, but let’s hope they’re a bit more on equal footing in the days to come.

So I ask that you allow me a few more days of birthday brooding and then be on the lookout for a happy hour (or two… or three) and be prepared to send well wishes. There are a lot of people for whom their birthdays are not a big deal to them. I am not one of those people, but I have developed a bit more understanding nature towards the availability of others so unless someone’s planning a huge surprise, there isn’t likely to be a big party this time around, but raising a few drinks in the next few weeks or making time to grab a bite to eat or go on a shopping trip would be greatly appreciated. Technically, it’s my birthday month and I am enacting birthday time as of right… NOW. So in the words of Dean Martin, “Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!”

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, it’s a short week, which with an impending birthday coming is feeling more like a downward spiral with a very steep slope. Let’s just hope there’s a very large cocktail at the end of it! :mrgreen:

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7 Responses

  1. Shaw Girl says:

    We shall send off this past year with a rousing, “Fuck you” and the raising of many glasses! And you know I’ll be around to remind you that you’re older than me.

  2. Esprix says:

    Could be worse – I’ll always be older than you. 🙂

    Here’s to a great new year!

  3. Brian says:

    So…when does the birthday drinking start? Let’s get it on, and get celebrating!

  4. I really hope this upcoming year is way better for you and that all the bad stuff stays in this year. Happy almost bday!!!!

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