Having It

In reply to my lovely wife’s plea…

Though this summer has not been the very best one of my life, I’m glad to have lived it, and looking forward to the fall and winter. During these last few golden sunny months, people I know have been diagnosed with cancer but are facing it with enormous strength and will and humor; have been burglarized and horribly sick but, again (what is it with our tough friends?), are dealing with it with laughter and fortitude; have faced unexpected surgery but – that’s right – have persevered.

Sure, China spent billions of dollars on facilities that were used for 14 days of sports competition, in a city where babies die every day in poverty, but great powers have always done stupid things to impress each other, and at least this one didn’t involve killing anyone. Gas and grocery prices have increased astronomically, and while they’re not coming down much, they have generated – I think – some real thinking about how to get America out of our terrible growth-at-all-costs morass. The health care crisis in this country continues to spiral out of control, and might spell doom for my children’s generation (truly, even for my own) if it goes unchecked – but, again, there finally seems to be a modicum of political will to figure out some way to provide here what every other citizen of an advanced society already has.

My draining second job will go on a one-term hiatus between January and May, but then pick up right where it left off in June. Over that time, we can tap our small but big-enough savings account, and I should see a nicely-sized raise at my regular job. I have just as much faith in humankind as I ever did, what with seeing my wife work hard alongside other volunteers to skillfully and rapidly solve an ugly situation at the preschool where my daughter goes. My nieces and nephew are poor minority children with no father and multiple medical and mental-health conditions, but they are better off than many kids in their shoes because they’ve got at least two families – my parents-in-law and my siblings-in-law – who are there for them, literally and figuratively. Economic disparity is everywhere I look, not least here in Northfield, but I’m hopeful that by putting a smart man in the White House this fall, we can start to close the gulf between the have-too-muches and the have-too-littles.

And sure, people buy and build ridiculous houses right around the corner from our place, but those houses don’t necessarily make them happier, and certainly don’t make me unhappy – just amused. It’s all a bit depressing, but I fall back on what I know about history and think about how glad I am that it’s not 1938, or 1908, or 1808, or 1508. Those were some tough times, and I’ll bet the summers of those years sucked a lot more for a lot more people than this one did for us.

And but so what makes me happy these days? My wife, even as she hunts for the clouds behind the silver linings, and especially my two girls. Hearing the younger count impeccably to ten in her squeaky little toddler voice is as wonderful as it is a challenge to tactfully answer the older’s question about where mean people go when they die. I’m also cheered by the wonderful weather, by the promise of a snowy winter, by the return of my favorite sports, by my regular job, by hot coffee… Too many things to list, really, but they sum up every day to making everything worthwhile.

11 thoughts on “Having It”

  1. OK, points well taken, thanks much.

    I hope all readers keep in mind that it’s hard to keep sight of silver linings when one is on one’s approximately 240th straight day of the baby screaming for literally hours, all told, per day, and on at least the 120th straight day of the baby rudely yelling and actually shoving one away when one tries to give or get a baby-kiss, hug, or snuggle–any sort of physical affection whatsoever from the baby.

    It gets to one after awhile, and that fact doesn’t mean that one necessarily deserves a psychological diagnostic label. Not that you suggested as such. But I’m just saying.

  2. P.S. I actually did not know that your second job will resume next summer. That is a relief, and now I will no longer be concerned about your job ending in December. I think you forgot to tell me that part.

  3. P.S. I said that I had to skip a semester, and that I would probably get an assignment right away in the summer again. You probably didn’t hear me over the screaming toddler.

  4. One day in the near future, you will look at each other and suddenly realize the screaming toddler phase has stopped and been replaced with 10,000 extraneous “likes” in everything she says.

    I also think how glad I am it isn’t the Dark Ages where I would have had to cook all the time and probably would have been burned at the stake by now for heresy. Actually I never would have reproduced because who would want the strange one with the unibrow who can’t see beyond the end of her nose?? I’d be married to Igor the goat skinner and biting the heads off live chickens.

  5. I do appreciate you so much, Christopher, and you remain a wonderful balance for my somewhat dramatic daughter. Thank you!

  6. Ah, yes. It’s always nice to be called dramatic when one is distressed at the state of the world and desperately glued to the DNC on public radio, praying for hope and change. I wish all U.S. voters were so dramatic.

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