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After Summer Camp


Before Alan was diagnosed, our lives had a smooth, uninterruptible rythm. During the week we would go to work, in the evenings we would eat dinner, on the weekends we would go hiking and in between all of that there would be the Griping. The consistent, familiar Griping.

“We need to go to the store,” I’d say.

“Oh, but why? We went to the store 2 weeks ago,” he would say.

“Yes, but we can’t live off these 7 grains of rice forever, and someone ate all the Lucky Charms. Besides, there’s only one packet of McDonald’s ketchup left and I’ve already called dibs on it, so what are you going to eat your rice with?”

“Wow, what is that smell?” Alan would ask, his face alarmed.

“I dunno. The dishes, it’s probably the dishes,” I’d say.

“We’ve got to fix that,” he’d say.

“Yeah, you should wash those dishes,” I’d dipolomatically suggest, “They’ve been there since you ate all the Lucky Charms.”

“Those aren’t all mine,” he’d respond before dissapearing.

A moment later he’d return with a big, triumphant smile plastered on, “I know, I’m going to spray this room smell stuff.” (As if that would fix the problem).

When he was in the hospital for the past 2 months, our roles changed and the Griping stopped. I began talking in a lighter tone of voice (everything is fine! everything is going to be a-OK!), except when I was tired and when I wished he could be out of the hospital already so we could go out and have some fun (Geez, you’d think he had cancer or something!). Alan had taken on the role of being sick and I had taken to asking him how he felt. (Was the stomach pain the same kind of pain he felt yesterday or something different? Did it feel ok when he walked around? Maybe could he try doing some leg exercises while lying in bed?) So in that sense, there was still some consistency to the day — I would go to work, eat dinner by his hospital bed and then fret. But instead of responding in an all together predictable way, he often times did not. Sometimes I’d get to the hospital and he’d be so tired he wouldn’t be able to stay awake. Sometimes he would have a tube in his nose, sucking out fluids from his bowels. Sometimes he would be delirious. I never knew and the not knowing what was going to happen on any given day was maddening.

Because I am a person who enjoys needs comfortable routine, I started my own routines outside of the hospital. Like listening to the same CD for the past month. And lingering for as long as possible at DJ Tanner’s house. Because they are cute, (look how cute they are!) but also because they are so familiar and comfortable. I didn’t know exactly what it was about them that put me at so much ease until this week. We were driving back to their house after getting fro-yo and they were talking about what dish to bring to Justin’s family reunion. Denise started talking about how they should serve it, and Justin agreed it was a good idea. As he started repeating back to her what he thought she was saying, she informed him that that was not what she was saying at all. She tried explaining once more. Then he tried. And again, they both could not understand what the other was trying to say. Then I jumped in to tell them that they had had this same conversation 2 or 3 months before — the same exact conversation. It’s the sameness, the familiarity, the feeling that we’ve talked about this before –it’s sort of Twilight Zone-esque, but I love it. Good ol’ Griping warms my soul.

Now that Alan is back at home, we’ve dropped the whole hospital act — the whole talking in shushed voices, me sitting gingerly on his bed, him looking all lost and forlorn. It’s like I’ve come home to discover my best friend has returned from an awful trip to summer camp (not the fun kind kids are always going to in movies). And I have so much to show him.

I want him to listen to my favorite songs on the CD Roy made me. The one I’ve been listening to non-stop since my trip to L.A. in June. I want to go to the movies. I want to see Away We Go before Away It Goes. I want to go to In N Out. I want to walk around the lake. I want to go buy things, pretty things, any thing. I want to indulge. I want to go to Miami. I want to be where it’s warm and where the water’s see-through blue. I want to live for the rest of summer wearing just my bathing suit, floating around in bodies of water. I want Alan to be happy, to want to do all this and more. Except I keep forgetting just because he’s wearing pants now and a top with an actual back that he didn’t just return from camp and that he can’t exactly go hike a mountain just yet… So we’ll have to keep taking it one day at a time. But until that vacation to the see-through blue, we can at least enjoy a few of my favorite songs of the moment.

Last modified: January 10, 2019