Weird and me, just looking out the window on a foggy morning back in The Homeland.
It's been four weeks [tomorrow] since I nearly left the building permanently, and I have to admit that I'm still sitting here with 'Weird'. I'm noticing things more - little things that I took for granted, even things that are a pain in the ass. I have to say, though, I kind of hope this Weird character sticks around a while longer, albeit accompanied by a less-startling, jolting personality. Because it is often with a jolt that I'll do something and Weird says, "Jeez - we wouldn't have been able to do that today if......" Still, it is nice to make a conscious effort to appreciate little things like the faces of your wife and children; the pine smell from your Mother-in-law's Christmas tree as you sit and drink coffee looking out the window on a foggy morning in the land of your ancestors two days before Christmas; the pizza from the rest stop that you've been visiting for the nearly 5 years since you left. Something nice about it indeed.
This time The Wife did The Drive back to our homeland. With my recent track record for losing consciousness, it was thought by all concerned that it might be best not to test The Wife's CPR skills in a moving car cruising at 75 on a four/sometimes-six-lane highway. The last time The Wife drove was after my cancer surgery three years ago. Weird was with me that time, too. But a lot more quiet. Sure, there were moments of "what if" then, but I think I'd been so prepped by my doctors that - as painful and long as the recovery would be - there was an insanely high survival rate. Because of that, I don't think Weird was as strong or vocal during the Christmas visit after my surgery.
Indeed, what I remember most about that visit was being embarrassed over the 25 pounds I'd gained [thus becoming the first person in recorded human history to gain weight from cancer]. No, I don't remember Weird being this vocal back then. This time, I've "only" gained about 15-20 pounds but there's a beard and a gaggle of [at-least-it's-real] hair rather than the normally conservative, coifed look I donned for 20+ years when I had to give a damn about the length of my hair. Sure, I'm still kind of self-conscious of my appearance this time, too, but Weird's presence has taken my mind off that.
With The Wife driving, I got the passenger-side view of the trip here, so I thought a lot. I thought of the 36,600 miles I traveled from March-August 2011 on this road to-and-from my home to my new job. I thought, "Little did I know that I'd get cancer, fired, and seizured all within five years". Yes, it's been a helluva five years. Also on the view on the ride to the Homeland this time I recognized some of the landmarks, particularly the closer we got to home. And I kept thinking, "I would have never seen that again if things had gone down differently." Now, it's hard to explain to someone how you can possibly get nostalgic seeing a road sign - but the road sign I was appreciating in this case was one I'd driven past for years, and years, and years on my daily commute many years before. It is a redundant sign announcing "Low Bridge". It hangs on a....low bridge. Why a sign is needed at all is beside the point - the point is that I almost never saw it again.
So. this morning as I gaze outside of the window in my Mother-in-law's sun room, where twice a year I spend mornings with a cup of coffee and my iPad, this year I'm joined by Weird. I'll suddenly look up and see the trees [in a fog this morning] in the back and remember how during the summer I enjoyed watching the birds in the feeders. Far fewer of them this time of year, of course, but a few of the little guys [completely confused by this warm weather] were out there looking back at me this morning. I don't think you can hug a bird without actually killing it, but if you could, I'd have gone out and hugged each and every one. "I almost never saw you again, Birdy!" I'm sure Bird would have thought something like, "That's nice - but you're crushing my lungs you fat, bearded, hippy-haired bastard!"
Yes, I hope Weird and I hang out together a while longer or more. As I say, I could do without the jarring emotions Weird brings sometimes, but appreciating a quiet morning looking at my Mother-in-law's Christmas tree, drinking a cup of coffee and marveling at the fact that I'm alive and able to do these things is a pretty cool kind of weird.