Winter

When I was a kid, the only thing that could make me want to get out of bed in the winter was the sound of the furnace kicking on. I would fairly crawl over to the floor vent, after the requisite thirty seconds or so of waiting for the cool air inside to get replaced with the fresh furnace exhalations. There I’d turtle myself on top of it and try to seal in as much of the heat as possible.

We had a combination natural gas/wood-burning furnace, and unless someone had paid a lot of attention and effort to the wood fire, the gas always burned hotter. It was such a disappointment to hear the furnace kick on, wait for the air to get warm, crawl out of bed onto the ground and snail my way over to the vent, only to discover it was a wood fire. The wood was free, though, because we had a forest and cut the wood ourselves. But I was not concerned about finances. Team gas, I was, all the way. Fossil fuels forever.

Our house in Savannah, like most southern houses, has the air vents in the ceiling, not the floor, because the HVAC is primarily used for air cooling, not heating, and the cool air falling most of the year makes more sense than building for the hot air rising during a scant two- to three-month period. So for as long as we live in the South, Alex will probably never be privy to one of the few possible intergenerational pleasures we could share.

There’s still cartoons, though. And books, obviously, but it’s still a little bit until he knows that the words I’m saying are being communicated to me through the colorful pages in front of him. Cartoons we can do now. I’ve discovered how to watch Dragon Ball Z for free recently, which I’ve never watched before, except for a few episodes during the brief period my college roommate and I were getting along, and I’ve gotten into a lot of different anime series since then but never the ole DBZ.

And you know what I’ve found? It’s not that good. I mean it is, but for a lot of reasons it’s not, mainly because it started in 1989, so a lot of the animation is hokey, janky, or just plain bad. The ending theme, at least for this first season, I think is supposed to be this melancholy melody, part instrumental part choral, but at least on my television speakers it’s so out of tune it’s unlistenable.

But man, do they invest in the story arc, and in the characters. After the first few episodes where Goku teams up with Piccolo (tee-hee) to beat the initial villain, the villain announces in his dying breath that his two comrades will come to avenge him… in a year. And it’s intergenerational, too. A lot of foreshadowing has been done already suggesting Goku’s four-year-old son Gohan is actually more powerful than he is. Will this take all 291 episodes to bear fruit? Who knows…

I think I’m in a winter in my life. Not the winter. A winter. Things are regularly cold, and the light is fading. The question keeps coming back to what it is I actually want to do with myself, my life, my future, but I have no answers for this inquiry. Because it feels like winter, you see? Asking what’s next now is like expecting the movie to start after the end credits. Logically I know that life is not contained inside the bounds of this single movie, this one calendar year, that time continues on, and I’ve encountered winters like this before, but my routines can only carry me so far. I’m stacking routines on top of routines and now it’s like I’m in the process of getting ready for bed as soon as I wake up in the morning. One, long, routine.

I hate getting ready for bed, though. That actual, call-it-a-day, ready-for-sleep stuff, when I’ve finally given up on accomplishing anything else, still there are things left to do before I can actually get into the bed. Brush the teeth, hate it. Wash the face, take the pills, hate it. I even hate peeing right before I go to bed because unless I’ve had zero liquids since noon I’ll probably have to pee at five in the morning anyway. Most of the dreams I remember, doesn’t matter what’s going on in the dream, all of the details, whether nightmarish or tedious or exhilarating, get turned into obstacles that prevent me from finding or using a restroom.

I’m tempted to call this a mid-life crisis. My body would certainly agree. Except I doubt this is anywhere near close enough to the middle of my life to satisfy my own, probably over-strenuous, mathematical standard. But more relevantly, it just doesn’t feel like that. There’s no crisis, there’s no panic. I’m not in the mood to make a series of drastic and often ill-advised changes in order to reinvigorate my lust for living, or some such. But a lust for living might be nice.

Can I just say—quite frankly, I don’t want to have a plan. I’m tired of plans. I guess I just don’t see the point. Plans are good if you’re playing things safely. They are excellent for preventative maintenance. They can help solidify you a comfortable retirement, sure. I need to have enough of a plan to be able to take care of Alex for eighteen years. That’s about all I care about, though, in terms of ensuring any sort of personal security. You can’t plan for magic, for the lightning strike of opportunity or tragedy, inspiration or catastrophe.

Maybe it’s my borderline millennial disorder, but none of my plans ever seem to bear fruit anyway.

How about a little spontaneity, how’s that for a plan. What if the calendar flips over and suddenly it’s January and *gah!* I still don’t have my life figured out. It could happen.

What was the fucking point of this entry I started this morning and now it’s almost midnight, the dreaded bedtime? Where was I going with the furnace thing?

Oh, right. Alex is my heating grate, was going to be the metaphor, during this frigid season in my life. The glowing coal I press to my chest and try to seal off the cracks so as not to lose even an iota of his personal fire. The reason I get out of bed. You see what I’m doing, with that.

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