"Things that interfere with writing well: Earning a living, especially by teaching."

-William H. Gass

Saturday, January 02, 2010

whoa a decade happened

I woke up this morning and thought it was Sunday. I had been sure since Thursday (which I thought was Friday) that I knew the date. I awoke with the sinking sense of anxiety and regret that comes after a two week vacation in which one fails to do any of the little chores one planned to do in the allotted time. Oil change. Hair cut. Refrigerator and cabinet inventory. While I managed to watch Dirty Dancing for the 800th time yesterday, I did not manage, on the last oil change day of my vacation, to drive the two miles and get my car taken care of. Nor did I manage to write that "decade in review" blog I felt, for whatever reason, was necessary.

I checked my email at the crack of ten thirty and the computer said it was Saturday. I checked my phone. Saturday. Facebook said it was Saturday. I assumed it was a grand act of terrorism in which all of America was cruelly led to believe it had another day of vacation. This was far more believable, in that early morning stupor, than my having lost track of the days this week.

Slowly, wandering around the house checking all available sources of information, I came to the realization that I did have another day of vacation. The universe had conspired to offer me one more Saturday. It was like Clarence saw me on that bridge, ready to jump unprepared into Monday, and wanted to show me that my vacation was not a total loss. I could do all those things I had planned. This was a chance at redemption. A chance to watch one more bad 80s movie. A chance to get my oil changed. A chance to...

I went back to bed. Now it's nearly two p.m. and I am grabbing the steering wheel of life and turning down productive lane. I give you, vast readership, the requisite decade in review blog...

Most people think September 11 was the defining moment of the decade. Not me. Just before the Y2K madness, in the last few months of 1999, I was lounging in the common room of my dorm with a bunch of girls. Rumor had it my roommate was bringing over some boy she thought was boyfriend material. She was a sweet girl and we were all rooting for her. She did bring him over, and he came gladly since we happened to live on the all-girls floor of our dorm. He walked in after her and went through all the introductions. He was a tall skinny guy with glasses and he had a half smile that made him look sort of unsure. I instantly abandoned allegiances with all females. He was the cutest boy I ever saw.

By the time September 11 rolled around that boy and I had dated, broken up, dated, broken up, kind of dated, kind of broke up, kind of lived together I don't know how many times. The morning of September 11 found us in the shower late. It was a delightful soapy steamy morning that I'll relive in my mind and keep this a family blog. By the time our idiot president invaded a country that didn't have anything to do with that morning, we had agreed to marry.

The way he asked you would think he was impulsive. We were walking through the Boston Common, singing Beatles songs, and he just asked. The man who requires three months of research to purchase speakers just decided, out of the blue, that he'd like to marry me. I figured it was a good idea, so we agreed. We would get married.

Of course, I'm the impulsive one. By the time our idiot president declared mission accomplished in the country that had nothing to do with the aforementioned fall morning, I had broken up with him for the last time. As it turns out both the idiot president and I spoke too soon.

I graduated from college a few weeks after the mission was accomplished. I did not see him at graduation. That night, I met someone else who would keep me occupied in my own personal Abu Gharib for two years. Like any stay in a wartime prison, I simply disappeared for a while. I violated my own Geneva conventions and revoked my own civil liberties.

I watched an American city drown. I chased and caught many a handsome man, only to let them all go, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes without a thought. I went to graduate school. I went abroad. I moved to Kentucky. I came back. I started a non-profit with some friends and a crazy author who used to be my hero. It's funny what becomes a paragraph.

The whole time I kept fighting the nagging sense that I had only loved one person. I kept having dreams about him, even after many years. Given the considerable sampling I had been doing, statistically I was doing very poorly on the love front. What if I only could love that one person? Then I saw him a few times. I cancelled a trip to Italy to visit California on the off chance I'd see him. We had a drink and he drove me to the airport. In our separation we had grown more similar. We had grown up.

Regardless of how we felt, our lives were still separate. Mine on the east coast, his on the west. Mine with a new but interesting boyfriend, his with an old but stable girlfriend. The relationships might be movable, but the careers weren't. Like any great love story, someone would have to give something up.

In the second known impulsive act of his life, he decided to pack his things and move back to the east coast. Five years just about to the day since I declared our mission permanently aborted, we decided to give it one last go. We threw our first joint election party and ushered in a new era of diplomacy and complete sentences. We tried to take advantage of the crumbling housing market only to find we still couldn't afford a house in Boston. We got new jobs. We purchased hundreds of cups of coffee. We spent nine dollars on biodegradable trash bags. We took pictures in the ER when my tubes were finally tied. We said goodbye to our senator. We got mail addressed to both of us. We became we. We celebrated our last unmarried New Year.

If you had told me in 2005 that my end of the decade blog would be a sentimental tribute to the finding, losing, finding, losing and ultimate finding of the love of my life I would have scoffed. Even if I thought that were possible, I would have believed it to be unworthy. Surely, after the erosion of civil liberties, the widening of the gap between rich and poor, the war crimes, the assault on social justice, the unspeakable horror of the Bush years I could write of nothing else. Or after the all-consuming election period, the surge of youth involvement in national politics and renewed hope for America and the world, I couldn't have imagined writing of something other than this juxtaposition. But when I sat down to type all I could think about was how lucky I am to still think, every time he walks into a room, that my fiance is the cutest boy I ever saw. Maybe it's the miraculous second Saturday, but it feels this morning like the decade began with meeting him, ended with choosing him, and everything else was a blip on the radar.