“SURGERY,” I had written in bold red letters on the calendar square for January 30, 2008. I scheduled my thyroid surgery for early in the year thinking I would supply the remaining 11 months with healing ammunition. Eight is my favorite number and this was going to be MY YEAR. At that point, I couldn’t see the flaws in my logic anymore than I could have predicted the year that followed.
Just three weeks on the mend, on my way home from work, my sliced and scabbed neck still hidden under a silk scarf, an older, faceless, woman tripped on the curb and fell on me. Within seconds, a few people came to her aid and she clumsily regained her footing, completely oblivious that the reason she didn’t smash her face into the concrete was because my knee cushioned her fall.
My first thought was, “shit, this is going to hurt for a while.” My second thought was, “where did everyone go?” I looked around, but the New York City rush hour crowd was just a blur around me; everyone was already half a step towards their next destination. I found the best knee doctor in town, the orthopedist for the Knicks. Sex and the City had based a character on him; he was played by Blair Underwood. I felt cool for as long as it took him to read my x-rays and tell that I would have to be on crutches for 6 weeks.
Come April, I rejoiced in the liberation from the crutches and then Uncle Sam took his stab. Apparently the 45% he was taking out of my paychecks wasn’t enough; so I scraped the crumbs from the bottom of the piggy bank and gave him ANOTHER $12,000.
In May I celebrated the year anniversary of struggling with a painstakingly difficult client at the advertising agency where I worked. Everyone in the agency acknowledged their unjustified requests, their unrealistic expectations. My co-workers all marveled at my patience and account management skills, all while sighing under their breath, thankful they weren’t in my shoes. I had just completed a year-long branding project and the client was finally happy.
Then she fired me…
… and things got better.
Clearly I had been on a detour from where I was meant to be and I had reached the end of this diversion. Life had finally cornered me into taking a chance I was previously too scared to take. Although I graduated with a degree in Journalism, I never actively pursued the career, choosing instead to follow a string of rebound jobs in advertising and marketing. I made the easier choices – selecting comfort over happiness, money over passion.
2008 will be the year that I had a compass change. It is the year that I started to write again, freeing both my mind and my soul at the same time. This year has given my life its flavor; it has filled it with stories that will get retold long after the 8 becomes a 9.
My six-year-old son says please and thank you compulsively. He attaches these words instinctually onto every request or question and while he uses please as more of a verbal question mark, his thank yous are very deliberate.
I want to follow his lead.
In a year where I spent too many hours self-absorbed, I left too man thank yous unspoken. I want to speak some now.
To Dr. Roses. I became your patient because I needed half my thyroid removed and you were the best. I thank you for the pride you take in your craft; your confidence minimized my fears and let me heal effortlessly.
Thank you to the woman who broke my knee. If life is about statistics and we are all destined to be victims of random accidents eventually, I’ll take this. Also, if you hadn’t abandoned me, I would have never seen the impact that staying would have made. A few months later, I witnessed a woman get hit by a car. I sat with my arm around her shaking shoulders for half an hour until the police came. When I walked away, I slowly forgave you for breaking my knee.
Thank you Sharon. You will probably never read this, but it was my pleasure to stay with you when that car swiped you on 3rd Avenue. I connected to your fear and it was my privilege to be that person for you – I hope that you pass it on.
Thank you to the boss that fired me. You freed my body of a cancer I didn’t know I had. My bank account is starving, but my soul is feasting. I know that karma bit you back, but I hope that one day you find the inner peace that will allow you to be kind to one person – at a time when it isn’t comfortable for you.
Thank you to all the people I interviewed at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. You do not know it, but the hours I spent interviewing you and writing your profiles were the best hours of my job. You all helped me understand the complete unimportance of my job in direct contrast to yours. While you saved lives, I wrote help wanted ads that used your stories as the dangling carrots.
Thank you to Divine Caroline. You published words that were finally being written. You even made me a featured member.
Thank you Perri … for the silk scarves, for the lunches, for the friendship and for sharing with me. Thank you for calling me even though I am the worst caller backer. That you for supporting my ideas – from the Sweet Hearts Truck to the tote bags with inserts. Your ethics in life are outstanding and you consistently manage to thread them through your friendships and your career. You have had a year laden with challenges of your own; a survivor and a fighter concurrently. After 15 years of friendship, I think of you as family and I hope you do the same.
Thank you to my childhood friend, Sheri. You are a person who does not know your importance in my life because I don’t call or write enough and I’m sorry. Your presence in my life is that of a pure heart. It also helps that we were in color war together in junior high school. You are a beautiful person, a wonderful mother and a very special friend.
Thank you Michelle. For the bubble bath, for the splinter advice, for your kick-ass proofreading, and for your words of encouragement. Thank you for telling me to write down 3 things that I’m thankful for every day … and mostly thank you for letting me feel like a good friend when I didn’t think I was being one.
Thank you Nora. When I called my neurosis insanity, you gave it a better title: “life dysmorphia.” I’ve always been a sucker for good marketing. You also inspired me to jump in photos.
Thank you to the Mac artist on the Santa Monica strip. For three days I woke up and tried to get to Mexico. In what seemed like a Groundhog Day version of a travel nightmare, I found myself stranded in trendy Los Angeles wearing the same clothes I had worn for over 50 hours. The make-up artist made me feel pretty – if only for an evening – if only to let my boyfriend take a picture.
Thank you to my baba and deda. You are the grandparents who have planted new roots in America for our family. I know that the year was so much harder for baba who was fighting colon cancer. But you let me be there for you as your light, your spirit, your hope. Your consistent belief in me is still astounding since I have accomplished so much less even though I was given so much more. Thank you both for sharing your stories and your recipes with me; I will dotingly pass them on.
Thank you to my mother. For showing me that it’s time to be happy. For supporting me even when I pushed you away. For the choices you made for me. For your encouragement. Thank you for the heartache you feel for me.
Thank you, daddy. For the schlepping – of my soul on your shoulders and all my Ikea purchases. Thank you for trying and thank you for the soup.
Thank you to my son, Jacob. You define life for me and have done so for the last 6 1/2 years. The title your birth bestowed on me is the one I treasure most dearly.
Thank you to my boyfriend. Thank you for bringing color into my black and white world. Thank you for the perpetual sunshine over our heads, the heat in your hands, and the warmth of your embrace. Thank you for inspiring me to dream and for telling me I’m pretty when I cry. Thank you for telling me that I was being a bitch, because I was and I’m sorry. Thank you for your logic. Thank you for guiding me down a road where I want to believe in myself. Thank you for letting me use your camera. Thank you for the heart balloon you gave me on the day we met; I knew when it lasted 6 months instead of 6 hours, it would be magic.
Thank you to my sister. Thank you for Guitar Hero and thank you for the hospital photo shoot. Thank you for knowing that putting my bed in front of the clock in the recovery room was not acceptable. Not many people can wish for a sister and make it so; I’m glad for my instigator abilities over mommy and daddy. We are different but the same blood courses through our body so I know you feel what I feel. You bring me what I need when I need it and will forever be my family operator. I am so proud of you for the life you’re living and the life you’re creating. I hope that you can find the happiness inside yourself.