30 September 2008

Things I Used To, And Might, Do

Today I had the day off for a holiday I haven't celebrated in nearly twenty years. And the period of my life during which I observed that holy day was brief: the time I was with Eva. So, if I recall correctly, we observed three Rosh Hoshannas. (I still haven't learned how to spell those names!) And I didn't mark that time of observance before I knew her.

Ironically, among the 114 students in the five classes I teach at the college, there is only one Jew. And she's a Falasha (sp?), again who was born in the Senegal. As I remarked to my students, there are probably more Jewish faculty members than students at York.

So, I sometimes say only half-jokingly, we should also have off on Muslim holy days. And Hindu ones. And, oh, let's not forget the Yoruba, Shinto, Zen, Santeria and Voodoo days of observance, if they have them. And while we're at it, we can't leave out the Wiccans or any Native American creeds now, can we? After all, our schools and workplaces are closed for all sorts of Christian holidays.

But I digress. I guess I shouldn't complain about having a day off. Still, it's difficult not to notice the irony of it.

And it got me to thinking again about the things I used to do, the things I'll never do again and what things I do, have done and will continue to do, well, just because.

All right. I won't list them all. But it's hard not to see the surgery little more than nine months away and to think about what I did, didn't, don't, won't and will never do again.

Most people who won't undergo the changes I'm experiencing associate the surgery--if they think about it--with the most banal things you can and can't do again, like pissing against a tree. I don't think I'll miss that, as I haven't pissed against very many trees. (I have more respect for them than to do that!) I do admit that I might miss peeing while standing up, as I never relish the thought of having to sit on a public toilet. Yes, I cover them and do all the things you're supposed to do. But it still doesn't make the task pleasant .

But those aren't the kinds of things you live for. Yes, some things can make life easier or more convenient, but they don't make life worth living. Trust me, I know about that!

Today I continued to swap my spring/summer clothes for my fall/winter ones. It's the last time I'll do that before the surgery, and I'll make one more switch in the other direction before then. The other day, John helped me to bring the boxes from the storage room I rent, but I didn't begin to unpack them until today. Part of the reason for the delay is that I knew I'd have more time today. Also, I guess somehow I was subconsciously delaying the switch: Now I really know that yet another stage of my life is done: gone.

What else won't I do again before the surgery? Well, I probably won't go to France or any other place further than Mom's and Dad's. Given my work schedule and other considerations, I probably wouldn't be going this year or next anyway. And somehow I get the feeling that if I go again, it's going to be very different, even from the trip I took to Paris four years ago. That one was very different from the ones I took only three and four years earlier, and I suspect that if I go again, there will be even more difference between that and my most recent trip there.

And what made the last trip different from the others? Well, for one thing, I wasn't running away. I also wasn't a lost soul in search of something; I'd found at least the beginnings of what I've needed all of my life. My only uncertainty was--and is--what will come next. But we never know that, anyway. Not knowing--or, worse, denying--who you are is much more of a handicap, I believe, than not knowing where you're going.

I already can't do some of the bike rides I used to do and I don't know whether I could even if I had the time and inclination to train properly. Maybe I will be able to ride even less, or less intensively, than I do now--or, of course, than I did ten years ago.

More important, I wonder whether there's some mental or emotional movement or habit into which I won't fall again, whether or not by choice. I know that people--the people I've known, anyway--think differently about one thing and another after life-changing events, like giving birth.

I even wonder sometimes whether this will be the last year in which I teach. Perhaps there's no rational reason--that I can see now, anyway--why I should stop, or be unable to, teach afterward. But even though it's been going well, I am not thinking about next year in the classroom, in a department meeting, or whatever.

Well, in nine months, I should start to find the answers. It wasn't so long ago that women--like my mother--waited without knowing the sex of the baby that would be born to them. Now I wonder...if anybody could see that I would have a guy's body parts and a girl's soul, what (if anything) would they have done?

Maybe no more than I'm doing now. Which is all I can do. Maybe I won't be able to do it tomorrow or nine months from now. But for now, it's what I am doing.