Saturday, October 28, 2023

a thousand novembers

 I am approaching these last few days of  October and the first couple of weeks of November quietly and unobtrusively with my head down, careful not to touch anything. It occurred to me this summer that this period, particularly early November, has historically been a strange time for me that has either brought amazingness or tragedy, but it's hard to know which. 

In 2000, I got the library job that would basically move me to this city and keep me occupied for slightly more than two decades at a time when I was struggling both mentally and financially. I interviewed for it the day after Halloween and was hired on Veteran's Day. I almost didn't go since we'd been up late watching horror movies and gorging on candy the night before. Even in the city, almost talked myself out of the interview since I felt like it was a long shot. But I went, and it entirely changed the course of my life.

In 2005, I'd spent the past couple of years submitting various incarnations of my first book to contests and open reading periods, and while I would occasionally land a bridesmaid spot, was beginning to lose hope. I'd done a massive restructuring over the summer and had queried and submitted the manuscript, by then officially called the fever almanac, to the press ultimately said yes the second week of November. I was getting ready for work and my sister, who was staying with me intermittently, picked up and passed off the phone which I always let go to voice mail.  Exactly a year later, that book was coming into the world, though it was slightly eclipsed by the euphoria of a relationship that would prove very long and very toxic and a recent bout of mono that left me sick on and off for a year. November was a weird month for romance other random years in various degrees as well, alternating between ecstatic and comically abysmal.

Though my mom's health problems had begun the previous February, she died that first week of November in 2017 after a quick end-of-summer decline and a seeming rebound in October. My dad followed five years and a week later. A year ago, he went into the hospital and did not come out. If your parents are going to die any time of year, this time seems worse since that early encroaching darkness and daylight savings always make me a little stir-crazy under even the best of mental circumstances.  So it's a severe, acute sadness and depression on top of a general lower register annual sad and I am sometimes amazed I was even able to weather it (mostly) intact at all.

I've never quite known what to do with that gap between Halloween festivities and the distraction that is Thanksgiving and the commencement of the holidays. All I know is that it's dark and filled with sharp things hopefully I make it out alive. 

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