I have often felt, and stated so here, that having cancer really was not a step in the right direction for me. In addition to whatever havoc it has unleashed upon my body – a body that really needed no extra havoc given its pre-cancerous condition – being diagnosed and living with cancer has only tended to make many of my most significant struggles that much more complicated.
Perhaps the most complex of these internal battles for control of Jeff involves my relationship with the immutable forces of time. In particular, from the earliest days I can remember, I have been a hoarder of time. I guard most jealously – and sometimes downright nastily – encroachments upon my time. Of course, as a lawyer, all I am really selling is my time, which is an issue when I don’t want to part with any of it. Consequently, I am very efficient when it comes to my work. And while that does give me “more time” it also gives me less money to use during it. I am going to have to seriously consider fixed fees for everything from now on.
A major portion of the difficulty in being a selfish protector of time is that time does not like to cooperate. In fact, time is almost like anti-matter, which may or may not be a real thing. I never took physics so I have no idea if that makes much sense, but work with me. My point is that time has a vexing ability to do exactly the opposite of what one wants it to do. Consider, as an example, sitting through a meal with people you do not care for, a fairly common experience for me as I am not a “people person.” As a result, I want the time with these people whose person I am not to be over with as soon as possible, but that of course just has the effect of making the time move more slowly.
The converse is frustratingly also true. When one wants something to last as long as possible, it goes by in a blink of an eye. Thus things like vacations or time with friends (I am not a people person but I do have a few who tolerate me and vice versa) or life itself are areas in which we would like to make time slow. This has been a problem for me since my early school days, as I would immediately begin every school vacation with obsessing over how much time I had left until it was over. And that’s another fundamental problem with controlling time – the more one seeks to control it the less utility you get from it.
Since being diagnosed with cancer, which a loose-lipped oncologist once told me I could safely count on to shorten my time, I typically am trying to find ways to stretch time to my benefit. Over the last two days, however, I have found myself in the unusual – but not unprecedented – position of wishing time would actually move faster. Temporarily.
The reason for this is simple: As per my recent posts, Will is now off to camp for seven weeks. And although I have many areas of parenting upon which I could improve, some rather dramatically, not spending time with my children is not one of them. Many of our friends think we are crazy – which is not crazy – but Melissa and I have never spent more than a night or two away from either Will or Andrew. In fact, the only time Melissa ever spent multiple nights away from Will prior to this was when Andrew was born, and she still got to see Will during the day. That also matches my all-time high for nights away from Will. I guess you could just call us homebodies. Or boring. But we happen to love our children and spending time with them (usually).
So this prolonged break, which is, roughly, 24.5 times longer than we have ever been apart from him is challenging for me. It has caused time to move at a speed so slow that I am beginning to wonder if the space-time continuum, something else about which I know nothing, might be malfunctioning. The hours are just hanging, punctuated only by checking my phone compulsively to see if there are any photos of Will from camp. (To do this I had to, naturally, add yet another app to my phone. Is there an app to manage all of the other apps on one’s phone? If not, maybe there should be. I do a lot of work with flimsy start-up ideas so this seems like something I could definitely draw up the legal papers for – for a fixed fee of course.)
I find myself looking at my watch repeatedly, wondering if there might be some kind of newsletter from the camp posted or a new batch of photos to sift through. To otherwise occupy myself, I have tried to stay busy around the house when not working. Unfortunately, when I went to do the laundry today, I realized there were the last clothes that Will wore in the pile. It’s not that it’s a big deal in and of itself – it’s just dirty laundry; but it’s the unsuspecting reminders of their absence that always zings you. I liken it to breaking up with someone or, more accurately, having someone break up with you and then, when you think you are starting to “move on” coming across a cassette she gave you or a movie you watched together and it throwing you.
And I am not alone in my angst. For once. Even poor Casey is out of sorts. She is a Golden Retriever so she lives for her family (Will in particular) and food, in that order. Thus take her favorite person out of the mix suddenly and I suspected there might be trouble. And my suspicions were validated by what Melissa stepped in coming down the stairs in the dark the first morning of Will’s conspicuous absence. What can I say? She’s a Jewish dog living in a Jewish household. Anytime there is anxiety tummy troubles are sure to follow. At least it gave me something to do that first, challenging morning – hosing off Melissa’s shoe was actually a step in the right direction (pun somewhat intended) for me.