New Reality, Family Ties

After turning 40 a month ago, I didn’t know when I would come down from its high, and really I didn’t care.  There were so many warm and positive wishes that I told a friend, who wants to avoid 40 like the plague, I couldn’t wait to cross that four-decade threshold.   It may have explained the anxiety I was experiencing a few days (and quite possibly a whole month) beforehand.   To underscore my point, I referenced a pop song: “Feeling the Same Way” by Norah Jones.  The end of my thirties was becoming like Ground Hog Day.  I was tired of going through the same things all over again.  When 40 came along, it felt like a clean slate, no more of the old feelings that bewitched, bothered and bewildered me in my rather safe and, dare I say, vanilla thirties.

But eventually, the bubble did burst during the course of this busy month, and I returned to reality, though to my relief not quite the same one.  Woody Allen once said 80 percent of life is showing up, and at a time when I needed it most, especially in this economy, it is my family that has come through for me.  That day I saw my folks and nephew, and all was somewhat right with the world.

It used to be that my parents, siblings and I were on either coasts of the United States, a nice arrangement for people who have their own independent lives.  If there was a time when we would intrude, it would be the ever so convenient long-distance phone call or the occasional birthday, holiday or get-together after work for dinner and drinks.  Now that my family is more or less in the same location, as temporary as it may be, I’ve had to adjust my reality to not only having them closer in proximity, but also in dealing with a different set of family dynamics as well as old long-standing ones.  But I suppose I’ve grown to embrace them too, as challenging as they may be some days.

It’s rather fitting that my Spanish friend Maria, whom I hadn’t heard from in more than ten years, contacted me via Facebook on my birthday.  Our birthdays are two days apart.  She once told me that after all is said and done, family is everything.  Here, I allude to another pop song, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and the line that goes, “time makes you bolder/children get older/and I’m getting older, too.”  The last time this song spoke to me, I was almost 30 during a moment I needed to wise up about something.  I guess she isn’t too far from the truth.

Letter of Thanks

When I received your letter saying you are retiring after so many years of practice, I was happy that you would be moving on and segueing into another interesting part of your life.  Although I hadn’t seen you for a few years due to a change in insurance, I was still saddened.  Like most endings of enduring relationships, I ran in my head a retrospective of our visits together.

In particular, what immediately came to mind was into the first few years as my doctor, you recommended a procedure I wasn’t familiar with, and I inquired what precisely you intended to do.  Next thing I knew, you had stepped out, hauled in what looked like a trombone case,  and showed me the instrument and how you planned on using it.   I appreciated this candid demo, as unwieldy as it was in such a small space.  You were a straight-shooter when it came to my health, no matter the questions I would ask.  You were my doctor and nothing else.

Yet every visit you also managed to be very kind.   Once you told me, “There’s nothing wrong with you, Rachelle.  You’re perfect.”  You could imagine that remark would go a long way.  At one point, I joked to friends you were the only steady I was seeing all year.  It was tough, but what I needed most during that time of uncertainty was a rock, which you were.  Eventually, I got passed it, and here I am, as healthy as I could ever be.

On a side note, there was the time I unexpectedly ran into you at the theater shortly after a visit.  You said you picked up tickets for “Spring Awakening” on the street upon hearing the musical was a comedy.  You were waiting for your wife.  I didn’t want to break it to you that while it had funny moments, “Spring Awakening” wasn’t exactly a bundle of laughs.   That was, I believe, three years ago, the last time I saw you.

A doctor once told me the only physician a woman really needs is her gynecologist, which, it turns out, isn’t entirely true.  (Well, he was in orthopedics.)  But for a long time,  that’s who you were, an abiding beacon through some storms and choppy waters, in this woman’s life.