Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Half Century, Pt. I

1995 – 2005
I received my first birthday card last night, from two very dear friends. It reads:
In dog years, you'd be 350,
but in giant redwood years
you'd only be about 3 ½ [open]
See? Turning 50 is all in how you look at it!
Yesterday, Pam asked, in effect: if the lines of my face were like tree rings, what story would they tell? Well, you'd have to look awfullyclose to see my wrinkles. I don't even have much in the way of "laugh lines"; no doubt, as Sam would say, because I don't smile enough. All the character seems to be in my beard and in my receding hairline.

For the next five days, I plan to review what has given my beard such character, one decade at a time.

Ten years ago this month, I was still married. My wife had gone to Seoul, South Korea to teach English as a second language in September. Like most Oklahomans, and many Americans, we were both still recovering from the bombing of the Murrah Building on April 19 of that year.

I didn't know it at the time, but 1995 was the de facto end of my marriage. We saw each other only three more times over the next four years. By 1997, I was in a deep depression. I didn't recognize it at the time, but that's an accurate assessment.

I was working, in effect, seven days a week. I was working forty hours a week at the Infernal Bookstore, and I was working part-time on the weekends at the local NPR station. Although our marriage was already showing some strain before Mary left, I missed her terribly. My life seemed to be going nowhere.

There have been a lot of changes in the past ten years. I've changed jobs three times. In 1996, I quit the Infernal Bookstore, and started a job at a local Independent Bookstore. In late '99, I started work in the Dean's Office on this campus. In 2001, I started my current job, in the Dept. of Pathology. Ironically, I was interviewed on 9/11.

I got divorced in 2000. I mortgaged myself to a house, with Brother Dave's help. I started writing poetry again.

I've had three romantic relationships in the past decade, not counting my marriage. There was Shannon, who I started seeing shortly before the divorce. There was Sarah, of whom I have written much. And there was Elsie, who was a poetic muse for some time. It's striking, to me, that I've had as many romances in the past ten years as all the other years of my life combined.

I changed church communities in this time as well. At first, I thought I would get lost in the Cathedral's larger congregation, but I've managed to find my circle, and make my mark.

I don't have a "significant other" at the moment, and I'm sometimes anxious about that. I do my best to remain open to possibilities, and to use this fallow period to recharge some batteries. I'm also aware that this sort of anxiety can often lead to feelings of desperation, which can be mighty unattractive. So, I keep telling myself I'll meet the right person in the near future, so long as I remain receptive and keep my eyes open.

Another part of this, of course, is being in situations where I'm likely to meet available single folk of the appropriate age. This is an area that still needs some work.

I almost forgot - my mother died in early 1995, prior to the bombing. Like many people, my relationship with my mother was complicated. I've written quite a bit about this recently, so I'll let it stand for the moment. As we go into my first two decades, more may be revealed.
Tomorrow - 1985–1995.

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