Just a Number…

Cal had a bad morning. We took him to the vet and he got a shot and he’s fine. If there’s one reason to love Cal’s lack of short-term memory, it’s that he’s never bitter when he gets back from the vet. In fact, you can watch him forget it just during the drive home. We asked the vet (who reminds me of Glark) about pissy Taylor and when he absolutely has to come in. The vet said they don’t recommend waiting more than three years. So as long as Taylor stays healthy, he just bought himself a little more time before he’s ripping the flesh of doctors again.

stee woke me gently with the news that Cal wasn’t feeling well. It’s probably because before we went to sleep last night I asked him if he thinks about death a lot. I just read Caren Lissner’s new book, and just like when I read THE DOGS OF BABEL, I got anxious during the parts about losing a spouse. Anxious probably isn’t the word. I would put the book down and want to not read it anymore because it made me so terribly sad. I find myself worried that every time I see someone it’ll be the last time I see that person. I know it’s because Dad died just about two years ago, and since then I’ve been having these little moments of panic and fear over losing people too soon, when it’s just an unfair time to lose someone. I figured that right after the book was published, I was in for something absolutely horrible, some gut-punching sorrow, because there’s truly something to be said for Karma, and I knew that the good fortune must have meant something terrible was about to happen. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, it seems, and it keeps me from truly celebrating the good times.

“I think about time, a lot,” stee answered. “About it passing by so quickly.”

The past three years have flown by, and I know that’s partly because of him, but also because this is a town of Hurry Up and Wait. You sit and write and wait and wait and write and wait and wait and hustle and freak out and wait and freak out and wait and the next thing you know an entire month has passed and you’re still waiting and hoping and waiting and hoping. I would think it would slow down time, like how Christmas never arrives fast enough when you’re seven. But instead I’m getting handed a Wellness Report for Cal, gently letting me know that my cat is now considered a senior.

I was talking with friends about death recently, too. They said they never really think about death, but one of them is just now realizing his mom is older, and that she’s not the fifty-year old lady he normally pictures when he thinks about his mom. And I saw how those two don’t always worry that the last time they hug their moms will be their last. They don’t get a bit panicked when they kiss their pets goodbye when leaving for a trip. They don’t have images of people showing up at their doorstep, somber and trembling, delivering the worst news someone could hear. Why do I think that way? When will I not? I don’t enjoy having these thoughts, and I don’t think it makes me a better person or a more cautious person or even a more attentive person. I was a good person before I had these fears about other people dying.

And that’s another thing. I’m not afraid of me dying, I’m afraid of anyone else dying.

When I was younger and moved around a lot, at one point I decided not to make any new friends because it was too painful to keep losing them when I had to move once again. That was a period in my life when I was the most lost and miserable. I am recognizing that feeling now when I wish that so many of my closest friends didn’t live so far away. I feel that yearning every time I drive by Tyson’s place of work and see him outside the door but I can’t stop to say hello because I’m on my way to a meeting. I feel that way whenever I call my sister, or get an email from my mom.

I can’t seem to just relax about it. I want to.

So Cal’s getting older and Taylor’s getting older and soon we’ll have to find another place to live and all of this means I’m getting older. Maybe I’m appreciating things more.

You want to live that “I’m getting older” moment with me? The other night at work I got into a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. I knew he was young. I knew he had dropped out of college recently and was like, twenty, or something. And, whatever, lots of you who read this site are twenty. I deal with twenty. I don’t think of it as young.

Until this conversation happened.

HIM
I guess it’s hard to make a really cool romantic comedy, one that guys would see.

ME
True Romance does it. Sort of.

HIM
I’ve never seen that.

ME
It’s good. You should see it. Quentin Tarantino wrote it.

HIM
Man. His name keeps coming up when people tell me what movies I should see. I just found out recently that he isn’t black. I just saw Pulp Fiction.

ME
Ah. And just like that, I’m older than you.

HIM
Why? Because I’ve never seen Resevoir Dogs?

ME
No, because when Reservoir Dogs came out, you were eight.

HIM
Seriously?

ME
And the reason you just now saw Pulp Fiction is because it came out when you were ten. You had no business seeing that movie.

HIM
I was ten? I was TEN?

ME
Ten.

HIM
I’m old enough to have been around for something that happened a decade ago? Holy shit!

ME
I’m not having this conversation with you.

HIM
Wow. Look at him. Quentin Tarantino is OLD!

ME
He’s probably near forty.

HIM
Right. I had no idea he was so old!

ME
It’s not that old.

HIM
How old are you?

ME
[heavy sigh] Twenty-eight.

HIM
Oh, man, really? I thought you were only twenty-three. Maybe twenty-five. Because I knew you were older than me, but I didn’t think you were that older than me.

ME
I’m not that much older than you.

HIM
Sure. Oh, man. I was ten when that movie came out and you were in college! Ten! And college!

ME
I’m going back to work now.

At least I don’t have to worry about him awkwardly flirting with me anymore.

Because I’m old and I should be worrying about my old-enough-to-die friends.

Ten.

Ten!

ten.

Currently Reading:

Henry’s List of Wrongs, by John Scott Shepherd

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