04 December 2009

Resting After The Last Seven Years, And For The Next Seven

Today was a slow day for me. I slept late and got not much done besides my laundry. The state of my unpacking is exactly where it was at the beginning of this week. I know that, realistically, I won't have this apartment in anything like a "finished" state until New Year's Day or thereabouts. I will probably do a lot of work during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, as I will not be on my job.

In the meantime, I've ordered a bike rack that, I think, will better fit this space than what I had been using in my previous apartment. It's not smaller, but it will hang the bikes by their rear wheels, which I actually prefer to mounting them horizontally on the wall. The latter way can make for a nice "bicycle art" display, but I find it more difficult to get the bikes on and off. Also, the bike is less stable that way than it is when it's hung vertically. Finally, my new rack includes shelves on which I can leave my helmets, gloves and other accessories and items I use when I ride.

My two Mercians will hang on that rack. The Raleigh three-speed, which is locked to a post outside, will probably stand in the hallway between my kitchen and bedroom, as it weighs about twice as much as either of my Mercians.

Maybe it's just as well that I probably won't have that rack for another two weeks or so. I'm doing what I can to shape this place up, but as Gunnar Berg reminded me, I've just had my surgery and, as someone (Yogi Berra?) once said, I'm not as young as I used to be. Maybe I needed this day to recoup, to recharge--and to take things in.

Although my physical appearance (at least what 99.999 percent of all people see) is the same as it was before my surgery, people have told me that I look "different"--for the better. Yesterday I talked with a prof from another department with whom I've been friendly but have hardly seen at all this semester. "You're more beautiful than ever!," she exclaimed.

More beautiful than ever! As if I ever were beautiful! All right, I'll take it. And I'll let you in on a little secret I've stumbled over: The only thing better than a man who can make a woman blush is another woman who can make her blush!

Would she or anyone else say the same thing if he or she were to see me now--in my sweats, with my hair a mess, as I slouch in front of my computer? Charlie is curled up next to me and Max has just crawled into my lap. They're both purring loudly. If I'm a mess, at least I'm as happy as they are.

Seven years ago, neither of them was with me. I'd had another cat named Charlie who, like my eponymous feline companion of today, is gray and white, and a pretty calico named Candice. Sometimes I miss them: After all, each of them was in my life for longer than any except for a couple of friends I've had, and the only people who were in my life for longer than those friends were or are related to me. And I've never had any material object, lived in any place, or stayed in any job or school for as long as I had either Candice or my first cat named Charlie.

Why am I thinking about them, or the past, now? Well, I spent seven years on Ninth Street: four and a half in the house from which I just moved, and two and a half in an apartment in a building on a corner of that block. Although seven years is like the blink of an eye in the scheme of the universe, in my life, those seven years were almost a geologic age: one during which the ground shifted, settled into something resembling its current form, and shifted in more subtle, subterranean ways.

What is it about seven years? In so many cultures and traditions, lives are lived and events happen in cycles of seven years. As an example, in Genesis, Joseph prophesies that lean years will follow the seven prosperous years that were about to come to an end in Egypt. (An economist once admitted that economic forecasting hasn't gotten any better than that.) I hope that the past seven years weren't the "feast," at least for me: I'd hate to think a "famine" is about to follow (although that may well be the case for the economy). If anything, if I had to characterize the past seven years, I'd say they were intense. Perhaps they were the most intense period of my life. But that is definitely not to say they were the worst, or best--or the most difficult, although I would say that 2002, when those seven years began, was one of the most difficult years, if not the most difficult year, of my life so far. It's not the sort of time I can say I mastered or in which I achieved a victory: Somehow, I survived it. Actually, that's pretty much all I can say for my life up to that point.

But the rest I've gotten today isn't, I hope, merely a respite from what I've experienced. Rather, I would like to think that it's helping me to store up what I'll need for the coming days. Even if those days will bring joy and prosperity, I will need to be ready for them.

2 comments:

Filigree said...

Out of curiosity, why hang the bikes by the rear wheel and not the front? Is it just a matter of preference or is there a "proper way"? We have our Motobecanes hanging by the front. Putting them up that way made us so nervous about them falling, but the set-up seems pretty stable.

Justine Valinotti said...

There's no "proper" way, at least to my knowledge. I like to hang bikes by the rear wheel because more of the bike's weight is there. Also, I find that when I hang bikes by the front wheel, the wheel and handlebar can jerk suddenly to the side, causing me to drop the bike or to whack the bike's paint job. Maybe that has more to do with my own clumsiness than anything else.