My coworker Mermaidhair was saying a few weeks ago how she believes in karma, and that things come in threes. “In three months, everything changes.”
“I doubt three months from now things will be much different,” I said. I was in one of my oh-god-I’m-never-going-to-get-anywhere-worth-being slumps.
“Just wait. Three months from now, things will be really different. Maybe not the situation as much as the way you see things.”
I’m making Mermaidhair sound like some kind of mystic, but really she’s just a hilarious coworker with a blunt way of speaking who I disk-golf with. She is, in her own words, a delight.
And damned if she wasn’t right. Here it is not three weeks later and everything feels in flux. Ever since I shaved my head, I’ve perceived myself different. Not as a dorky loser who quotes Futurama too much, but as someone who has enough “cool factor” now to walk into White Rabbit or Prairie Lights or some grad school shindig to look fitting for the place. So shallow, this perception, but then again, how I perceive myself shines through on how others perceive me. I feel more like an adult with my hair short, less prone to lull in bed and RP over Skype instead of being a productive shit and getting my ass out of bed.
This grown-up-looking me is taking some getting used to. She’s still stretching her limbs and seeing what’s possible. She’s made a pact to finish a passable draft of that damn story by the end of the year, in time to give it as a present to Drunk Grandma (I have two grandmas: Drunk Grandma and Tiny Grandma. I feel they deserve a blog entry of their own), the grandma who ate up Harry Potter along with her grandchildren, who read the entire Wheel of Time series (kudos, Grammie), who tore through Hunger Games on her Kindle during late nights with her porch door open toward the lake.
This shaved head, then, really does feel like a new start. And while I try to figure out myself, it is snowing and raining in May when it was a sweltering 87 degrees less than 48 hours ago, and people pull their winter coats out of the closet, angry that the coats haven’t even gathered any dust yet, and they squint at the wind and cold and talk about soil temperature and corn planting schedules and everything is in turmoil.
And the third thing: (things really do come in threes, eh?) My dad has brain surgery Tuesday. This is like stepping onto a boat after a few years. Yeah, you had your sea legs before, but now you’re still seasick and even though the risk isn’t as bad there’s still that chance of the big wave and the capsize.
They discovered his first tumor when I was twelve or thirteen, a big fist-shaped shadow on the x-ray scans. We all drove to Sioux City for the brain surgery. Mom made my older brothers pack funeral clothes, but I didn’t know about this until at least a year later. The surgery was fine. Dad had a dent in his head. We bought him funny do-rags and celebrated as he recovered.
When I was sixteen it came back, and it was like I’d been expecting it. He was supposed to be having routine scans, but when I’d ask about them, he’d say, “Oh, yeah, they were fine,” in a vague, vacant sort of way. He hadn’t been going. And it came back in roughly the same area. The surgery took longer. There was a lot of scar tissue to work around, and recovery took longer.
A few months ago Dad told me they’d found two small ones. The surgery is going to be “less severe” this time, but the surgeon is still cutting open his skull and pulling out something (two somethings) that keep coming back for we don’t know why. So I’m going up to the tiny town where I was born and lived before my parents divorced and be with Dad and Drunk Grandma and sit in waiting rooms and try to read and try not to think of all the many many possibilities that hang on the edge of a surgical knife. I will not pack funeral clothes but I can’t help be intensely aware of how much could change in three seconds’ time.