And We Part As Friends

Two-thousand-six,

I sat down to my laptop several times today to write about you, but the words just haven’t flown freely. It’s guilt, really…you’d think with all of the bad that’s come about during your reign, I’d remember it a little better—I lost my best friend in January after all…but the thing is, I still feel her around me all of the time. I didn’t lose Mom at all, really. I miss her voice, but I can still feel her touch.

Nick and I put together a list of my 2006 “firsts”…it was a year to spread my wings and explore. Tucked in among the sillier entries—beer, Starbucks, David Gray, Charity runs—were those I felt even sillier to say…the sound of Nick’s voice and the smile it brings to my face, or the joy I feel when I open my eyes in the morning. I don’t remember such simple contentment in years past, in lives past.

Life is hard, there’s no doubt about it. Hurting is easy, it’s the most natural thing in the world. I chose to smile, to toss my hair back around a belly laugh and greet the unknown with high expectations. So, Two-thousand-six, I think I win this round. Sweet dreams and I wish you well.

Canadian Jeans

It began around a campfire…crackling and aromatic, we kept our wits about us through the buzz of those last two bottles of beer…which followed the two rounds of Vodka Lemonades. With the circumstances as they were, I’m sure you’ll understand when I attest that I have no idea how it started. Nick, I believe it was, had a slip of the tongue as he, Jeff, Kara, and I enjoyed comfortable, humorous conversation. Being in the company I was in—highly suited for me as they are all smart alecks—slips of the tongue are not treated as ignorable errors, but, rather, as something you spend the entirety of your life living down. I love these people!

Somehow, it became understood that they don’t wear pants in Canada. Go ahead and re-read that sentence again if you like, but it won’t make any more sense the second time through.

It comes up often—when someone (Nick) is wearing ripped jeans, for instance, we wonder aloud if maybe, just maybe, he’s wanting to move to Canada. Or, or!—when someone (Nick) is complaining that their jeans are too hot, we wonder aloud if maybe, just maybe, he should move to Canada. Last Summer, recovering from my surgery, I existed (by and large) outfitted in one of Nick’s tee shirts, and nothing more. They were cool, comfortable, and perfect for the location of my boo-boo. About 10 days into this style scheme, Nick came down for coffee before heading out to work and chastised, “YOU’RE NOT IN CANADA!”

Spoilsport.

The last two days I’ve been forced to wear pants to work. I am a dresses and skirts person…but due to a (much) less than pain free back after Wednesday’s myelogram, I questioned my ability to don tights, a must for a non-menopausal, skirt-wearing Wisconsinite at the end of December. Pants! Can you imagine the travesty!? Nick asked timidly this morning how it felt to wear pants to work. I crinkled my face tellingly and complained in my most whiny tone, “I don’like iiiit!” Nick tried to soothe me, but I was inconsolable (my legs draped ankle to hip in opaque fabric as they were). I sniffed in unconvincing dramatic display and asked timidly around a fake hiccup, “Do you think we could move to Canada?”

Dr. Brenda

This’ll be a quickie. I had a myelogram today, and “technically”, I’m not supposed to be sitting upright just now. I believe my discharge instruction sheet demanded a 30° angle of my head for the rest of the evening. Oh, and I also learned today that my spinal fluid is leaking: yay me!

Anyway, I have this dye injected into my spine, and they’ve taken images of the affected area. I’ve received copies because I have a “special” genetic syndrome that this hospital outside of my chosen HMO circle and I need to hand deliver the films from point A to point B in order to minimize possible delays. It’s a lovely and highly modern system, the communication of hospitals on different insurance plans is.

Back in my room for the long wait (they need to monitor me in the event that I decide to have a seizure: yay me some more!), Aunt Brenda pulls the myelogram films from the large envelope and looks at them in the light. Brows furrowed, she looked over to me. “I see a penis,” she declares. I roll my eyes as the lidocaine begins to wear off and I feel not only the still-open wound (from August!) on my backside along with the fact that I JUST HAD A NEEDLE IN MY SPINAL CORD. My sunny disposition was experiencing a bit of cloud cover as I hiss, “That’s my spine.”

(I only hope the neurologist agrees with me when he studies the images…otherwise, I have much, much more to worry about than leaking spinal fluid.)

Swinging Pendulum

A year ago, I knew with certainty that my mother would pass from our world before long. We, my parents, my brother and myself, shared an intimate Christmas morning at my childhood home. Momma, whose eyes shimmered like tinsel as soon as the weather cooled and the air seemed to take on the scents of gingerbread and cinnamon, sat at the edge of the loveseat uncomfortably and smiled/cried while we unwrapped the gifts she had so lovingly presented (knowing it was her last year to play Santa)…and I suspected the tears weren’t all in joy. She was hurting.

We posed for a quick photo—again, knowing this year was the last—and went to my aunts’ home next, where Mom was forced to leave very early. That’s when you knew it was bad. She was a trooper and suffered silently through a lot of family gatherings that last year. I was living with my aunts at the time, so when my immediately family left early that wet, cold Christmas day, I felt the chill in the pit of my stomach as I went downstairs to sit alone in the dark.

But something else happened on Christmas day, 2005. I received my first piece of correspondence from Nick. I’m not saying that one good cancels out one bad, or that we’re on a teeter totter that ever levels out, only that a light touched my darkened life that day…and that I am so grateful. I think I’ve shed more tears this year than I have totalled in all the years that have come before—and many of them, many many of them, have been in appreciation of a man that asked nothing of me but for me to let him be there. And the enormity of that, of a person that would willingly put himself in a situation so terrible so early on in a relationship, causes me to stand back and see a bit more of the whole picture and realize…realize so intensely that…I am so lucky.

I don’t want to get all Pollyanna on you, but search for the good, and you’ll surely find what you’re looking for. Merry Christmas and I wish you all the best…the best people, the best memories, and the best day.

Mousy

The other morning (Nick and I now carpool to work), Nick turned the key in his SUV and white, batting-like bits blew from the defrost vents and, I imagine, created a life-sized CR-V snow globe. He, uh, parks outside these days. A cute red car resides in the garage, see. Ahem. Moving on. I will accept no guilt.

Well, he said nothing to me, busy throwing on my last bit of mascara, as he reentered. It wasn’t until we were converging on the vehicle that he submitted his suspicions—and concerns—that a mouse had taken residence in his vehicle. Friends of ours had this happen to them during a camping trip last June, and it caused considerably expensive damage to their Jeep. I moved gingerly to the passenger side, because of my bum bum of course, but also because I am not a mouse person. I’ve never had any sort of rodent as a pet and have long loved their mortal enemies above all other animals—here kitty-kitty-kitty!

So it was with great trepidation that I arranged myself in the bucket seat. After work, Nick bought mousetraps and set one on the driver’s seat floor before retiring for the evening. Grimly he checked the trap next morning and disposed of the uh…well, anyway. We took my car yesterday. However, I had a surgical workup at noon, and my father dropped me off at home afterwards (it was my half-day at work). This is all fine and dandy, but I wanted to make Nick cookies, the one he hinted for me to make for him during my time off from work—hinted with none of the covert and all of the obvious.

Peanut Butter Temptations, he tells me, maybe not by title. I only know their name because once upon a time, we had a cookie bake every December on my Dad’s side of the family…and apart from the krumkake, rosettes, and fattigmand (traditional Norwegian cookies), we made scores of others, including the famed Peanut Butter Temptation. So I needed ingredients for dough. I would have to take Nick’s SUV. He had set another trap that morning…so, carefully, I scooched the empty trap under the seat before I climbed inside.

Well, during my short drive home from the store, I hit a bump…the trap snapped. I screamed aloud thinking a mouse had just died MERE INCHES FROM MY PERSON, and turned the radio on to blare Christmas Carols at me through the final minutes of the trip, willing myself to forget. It must have worked as, upon returning home, I jumped from the car and carried my bags inside, completely forgetting to check the trap. In hindsight, to be fair, I doubt I would have anyway, even if I remembered. I’ve watched enough CSI that I don’t ever want to discover a body, I’m pretty sure.