Thoughts on Paper

It’s been a minute.

Depression is a funny animal. You think you have it under control and then you just hit a period of self-destructive apathy. When that happens, I wonder if this is normal, do non-depressed people feel this way, too? Or is this symptomatic? If I were smart, I’d be seeing a damn therapist. But hey, ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.

Speaking of animals, I suffered a tremendous loss at Christmas. My almost 11-year old baby girl, a spunky lab/collie mix that looked like a puppy until the day she died, had an internal bleed. I came home on Dec 23, kid-free, ready to blast gangsta rap while doing my baking and wrapping gifts (our strange Christmas Eve-eve tradition), and she was different. It was hard to tell at first, but I noticed. Usually when we come home without kids, she has a little running fit, a short burst of “boys aren’t here, they’re going to play with ME” excitement. But she was just lying at the top of the stairs, and it took her a moment to get up and come down to join us. She was just off all night. She would only take a few steps and then flop down. When we went upstairs she hobbled into the boys’ bathroom and just lied down. I knew then, she was telling us, “this ain’t right, people”. Long story short, I spent 1AM on Christmas Eve listening to an emergency vet explain how dog cancer is diagnosed, with a $5-7K surgery. The odds? 2/3 of tests come back as cancer, and they live days. For those that don’t have cancer, they typically survive another 5 months. It felt like the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but really it was easy. I could never leave her to sit in a cage at an animal hospital at Christmas, recovering from surgery that I can’t afford. Being that she was already becoming a senior dog, I knew that any option involving surgery just wasn’t viable, and so I said goodbye and held her while she crossed the rainbow bridge.

It’s been five months, and while it’s easier to experience day-to-day life without bursting into tears now, I still have moments where I can’t believe I’ll never see her again.

The other part of my life right now is just school. On the one hand, I feel really proud and empowered that I’m doing this. I have a 3.35 GPA (and that’s including my freshman year many moons ago when I just didn’t give AF). I took 9 credit hours last fall. NINE. I’m taking 4 credit hours in the accelerated summer session, and 3 of those are for mother-fucking algebra/trig. Some things never, ever change, like math being my nemesis. I have no problem with confidence when it comes to my perceived level of intelligence, but nothing will make me feel stupid like sitting down to take an in-person test and feeling like I have no idea what’s going on.

On the other hand, I want to cry every time I think about how much potential I had in 1998 when I dropped out. It would have been so much easier to do this without kids, without a demanding full-time job, without a mortgage and yard work to do, and without debt. I know that’s not how my life was supposed to turn out, because if I hadn’t taken the path I did (coming home to work at summer camp) I would have never met one of my greatest, lifelong friends. The one that introduced me to the man who would father my children. The one that I introduced to his wife. The one that we share so many inside jokes with, so many Thanksgivings, and all of those ups and downs from young twenty-somethings tailgating and celebrating Stanley Cup wins to late thirty-somethings with kids and businesses and rare shared vacations to the beach. Essentially, if I hadn’t dropped out of college, I wouldn’t have my boys. I would have a different family, different kids, different friends.

Maybe I would be happier. Maybe I would still have a gorgeous, voluptuous swimmer’s body. Maybe I would have more grey hair. Maybe I would be alone and bitter. Who knows? Rarely do I stress over decisions I made in the past. I have plenty of other shit to stress about without dwelling on what I did twenty years ago.

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