Thursday, December 6, 2007

One year later

A lot has happened in a year.

A year ago, I was struggling through a bad case of bronchitis and a major blow to my morale after the landlord told my family to hit the fucking road right around Thanksgiving. I was exhausted from the move, which was still just finishing up.

A year ago, this week, the landlady decided I wasn't moving fast enough and decided to help herself to our stuff while we were still moving out. Her top picks were my leather winter coat and a dehumidifier from the basement, which was a necessity since the walls sweated year-round. I decided since they were keeping my stuff and our security deposit, I'd just hold on to the key to the door. It seemed fair to put them to the trouble of changing the locks.

Things got a little worse after my son's daycare opted to name us the most likely family to need a trashcan full of food. We were probably lucky my wife was the one who picked up my son that day. We needed it. I have been grateful for it, but if it had been me that day, I'd have told them no.

Pride goes down bitterly.

Last year, I wore my agony over the whole season like a crown of thorns. I nearly drove myself insane trying to scramble to find a few bucks to make Christmas for my children better than dismal. It turned out better than I hoped. I spoke to my brothers on the phone Christmas day and wished I was there for once, but accepted that here wasn't terrible.

I counted down the hours until 2007 with the fondest wishes that 2006 would disappear. It was hard for almost everybody I knew. Everyone's life seemed to be falling apart. Jobs were bad. Relationships were on the rocks. The whole world was tilting, sliding into the gutter. I think we'd all have started drinking if we just could have afforded the booze.

It wasn't over immediately. 2006 and the relentless onslaught of bad... from repossessed cars and lost jobs to failing health and uncertainty faded from view slowly.

We settled into the new place. It wasn't as nice as the townhouse. It cost a bit more, but it was fine. The new neighbors seemed less concerned with what we were doing every minute of the day than the previous batch. My wife was offered a job the same day I was. She took hers. I took mine. We got cars to replace the ones taken by the bank or destroyed by lesbians. I caught up a little with the people I borrowed money from. I quit my job at the bookstore. I left at a good time, the relationship with the place had grown stretched a bit thin toward the end, but we parted friendly. I still go over for coffee every now and again.

2007 wasn't easy by a long shot. I fought the never ending battle of the bills, the battle of the bulge and the endless battle for some kind of inner peace. I lost most of that, but it's not the winning, it's the fighting that counts some of the time. It wasn't a particularly happy year, but happiness is overrated. We got through without any of us ending up in the morgue, unemployed or locked away in a room with comfortable walls. The holidays were tolerable. My birthday wasn't a disaster. My kids are thriving and the landlord this year installed a new stove in our place. He didn't kick us out at the start of winter.

It was a good rebuilding year after a particularly bad season. I'm glad we got that.

I can't say which way 2008 will go. I can't even say if I'm ready if it turns sour again, but I'm hopeful once again that it won't.

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