Monday, February 1, 2010

Suburbs of Our Discontent

Waiting for the Other Boot to Drop

I found it this morning, as I was stumbling around trying to find hats, gloves, and scarves. The boot. Just one. My daughter had already left for school, and I hadn't done my usual winter clothing check. If it had eyes, it would have been staring at me, accusingly : "How could you?" it seemed to be saying. "Did you really need those extra 15 minutes of sleep? Hope you enjoyed them."

I grabbed the boot, threw it in the car, dropped my son at daycare, and started for work. I'd decide what to do with it once I was on Rte. 9.

I could feel its imaginary eyes burrowing a hole in the side of my head. It wasn't going down without a fight: "Now what is she going to do when it's time to go out at recess? Stay inside like a loser? Or freeze her feet off?" I took a detour, snuck into her school, found her locker, and placed the boot carefully by its mate.

This was one thing I could control, one little piece of the future I could change for the better. I would have done it even if the boot had been mute.

Last week I took my son in to consult with a cardiologist because his pediatrician had picked up a murmur at his last appointment. It was probably nothing, but there we were: me and my little guy. The doctor was fabulous, and soon was assuring me that all was benign. But she offered an echocardiogram if it would make me feel 100% reassured.

I jumped at it.

It's times like that when I feel like I really understand Macbeth. Of course he went back to the Weird Sisters to demand more about his future. Of course. I would do the same thing if I had access to them. Even if it meant going into the jaws of Hell. But it does mean paying the price of having too much knowledge.

When the doctor called with the results that night, she confirmed that everything was fine, but that the test had revealed an extra vessel on his chest wall. It was probably nothing, but she'd get back to us in two days.

His heart was okay, but mine was breaking wide open. Like Macbeth, I'd seen one too many visions of the future.

When she called back a few nights later to say everything was fine, I allowed myself to feel some sweet, tentative relief: He was going to be okay. This is an illusion, of course-- a prediction about one thing, just one. It can't tell me all of the others. But, for now, I'll take it. Because if I can feel like I'm in control of one little piece of the future, that's enough to get me through the day.

If the other boot is going to drop, I'd like to think that I'm the one doing it.

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