Photo by the author taken November 3, 2013: I-43 North, somewhere in Wisconsin, and I'm
thankful for the road that goes through the storm clouds and leads me back home.
First, hello. And also, don't look at me like that; I know I've been slackin'.
Second, it's November, and as the title of this post suggests, it's time to share what we're thankful for. *groooaaannnnn* I KNOOOOWWW!!!!
This November, my friends played a game on Facebook wherein they posted a random number of facts about themselves; if you "liked" the status, they would in turn give YOU a number, and you would then post that many random facts about yourself. Get it?
Okay, so: I played along and posted my ten facts (thanks, Theo). Done. And then I "liked" someone else's list. And this is what happened:
I know you've already been given a number. Instead of sharing more secrets, post your favorite memory of a time in November.
ANY November? I mean, this November (so far) and last November have been crappy. And the memories I do have of Novembers past are not "favorites," I mean it's just me anticipating the end of the year. Every. Day. Lemme think on that...
I'll work on this. It is brewing right now as a blog post.
So I'm going to tell you a story about Being Thankful.
It was mid-November, some 15 years ago. I was married, I was living here in the U.P., and I was commuting weekly to Chicago for school. (Side note: I know a 300 mile one-way commute is extreme; however, I am a stubborn, stubborn woman and would not have had things any other way.) This was before cell phones were appendages, and so communication with my family in Michigan relied on land lines. At this point in the semester, they knew my schedule, knew when to expect check-in phone calls, knew when to expect me home.
It was the week of Thanksgiving, and my last class ended at noon on Wednesday. I drove home, walked in the back door of the house, and no one was there. There was a note: At my parents' house. I dropped my bags and drove the 1/2 mile to my in-laws' home. Everyone was there, save for my father-in-law, who was out at hunting camp. As I walked into the great room off the kitchen, my Wasband turned around from facing the fireplace and looked at me with a sheepish smile. My jaw dropped.
He had 1) cut his hair so close with the clippers that his head looked shaved; 2) his face was so swollen he could not wear his glasses; 3) his right eye was a gorgeous melange of blues and purples and blacks.
What the fuck happened? Well, I rode your bike to Gussie's last night to get a beer. Aaaannndd...? Well, you know how there are those cables tethered to the ground? And they're attached to the power poles? Yes... Well, I was biking home and was carrying my stuff in one arm, and was trying to balance things so I wouldn't drop anything...Aaaannndd...? Well, I kinda fumbled the bag and looked down and the front tire of the bike hit the tether in the ground. (Anticipatory silence.) And I flipped over the handlebars and landed with my eye on the end of the handle. (Stunned silence.) The bike is banged up some, like the front wheel rim is bent a little, but I didn't break anything. The ER doctor thought I might have fractured my eye socket, but the x-ray didn't show anything, so. And none of the beer bottles broke, either.
My children at this point in time were not-yet 7 and 3 years old. They were left home alone while their father- already drunk- rode a bicycle two-and-a-half blocks to the neighborhood store to get more beer. And a pint of whiskey.
I can't make this shit up, people.
How thankful was I to have in-laws so close to help with ER transport, childcare, and knowing glances? Very thankful. I cannot imagine what was going through my daughters' heads when they saw their father, stumbling drunk and disoriented and battered and bruised and pushing a bicycle towards the house. How thankful am I to have this experience under my belt, to have survived that relationship and learned from it? Very, very thankful. Is this something that I've felt compelled to share before today? No. That lifetime, thankfully, is over. I send up thanks every single day that my life is what it is now instead of what it used to be.
So right now, this 2013 edition of November? When my Facebook feed is littered with people posting daily "thankful" posts? Where they're rattling off thanks for things they have literally taken for granted the rest of the year (or perhaps only been lax in publicly acknowledging the rest of the year)? Those of you being effusive about your spouses, partners, children, parents, mentors, friends? Your good jobs, health insurance, warm homes, reliable cars? Your faith?
You're assholes. You make me angry for only now making public and highlighting those feelings that should always be acknowledged, no matter the month, no matter the other circumstances of your life, no matter what social media prompts you to do, no matter what your actions are the other eleven months of the year.
(Side note: I don't really think you're assholes. Not all of you, anyway.)
I get it, really. I know that you need to make yourself feel better, that you need to start somewhere, and maybe more importantly, you need to receive validation for your efforts. You shouldn't have to participate in those games if you're living your life with gratitude; calling attention to yourself this way just highlights your weakness as a human- be thankful for that instead, for the recognition that you are a work in progress. Be thankful for the strength to carry on when you realize it's going to be a long time before things are okay.
November, then, should be a month-long wake up call for your life. You hear that ringing sound? It's for you.
Until next time, friends.