Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The mood was solemn around the house on the first Monday in October.   The weather turned cold and rainy on the previous Friday and had remained that way all weekend.  It seemed odd to look at people's Facebook pictures from the weekend and see sunny skies - it was as though the whole world should be blanketed in grey along with us.  We had relented on Saturday and turned the heat on.  We had held out that long because this was just a temporary cold front.  Consistently, the weather sites and channels were predicting a rise back up to perfect fall temperatures after the weekend.  But, in the meantime, the cold and damp permeated through the brick walls with overnight temperatures dipping into the 30's.  Here we go, I thought to myself, the first real test for all of these native Southerners.  It was one thing to be out of the 100 plus degree, drought ridden state of Texas in July.  It is another to be away from it when the weather turns cold and wet here.  And sure enough, the other occupants of the house seemed more concerned than excited.  Even the dogs weren't liking it.  The sound of the air cleaner's "arcing" when it was first turned on completely freaked them out and even after that settled down, they became jumpy every time the heater cycled on after that.  And, come Monday, the day seemed darker than the weekend if anything.  The front didn't seem in a hurry to move out.

Of course, one reason it seemed dark was because both the Steelers and the Cowboys lost in ignoble fashion.  Steeler fans are left wondering if there is a season to be had after bodies - and bodies attached to marquis names - went off the field with injuries in a brutal, gut wrenching loss.  And, as that agony was unfolding before our eyes in High Definition, Greg spent the afternoon watching his team's 27-3 lead evaporate in updates scrolling along the bottom of the screen.  By the time the late games kicked off, the mood was definitely as dark as the weather.  Steeler fans have a tendency to think the sky is falling even when it isn't - I've mentioned that before I know - but this time it really does look bad, and I have to say I'm not particularly optimistic about our chances.  Watching the Patriots and Baltimore ripping their way through teams like they are alien beasts who can't be killed doesn't help the mood any.  Trying to tell myself it is just a game does not seem to be helping.

I am observing that all of us, not just me, are a bit reliant currently on outside forces to keep us engaged.  The Steelers, the Cowboys, the Longhorns, moving across country, throwing oneself into progressive causes, finding new and interesting places to eat.  All tools in the art of distraction.  When that doesn't work, you have to face your naked reality, and that's not all that easy to do.  I won't be able to say we're onto the other side of living with grief and guilt, out the long tunnel if you will, until we can take a losing season and place it in its proper perspective.  Until we can, in other words, live life without a dependence on other factors to feel whole and fulfilled.  You have to wonder if a horrible, ugly season of football isn't just what the doctor ordered maybe.  I really don't want to find out.

But, without the Steelers to bolster my sense of well-being, temporarily anyway, I began the work week feeling tired and depressed. Before I gave up on that book on grieving I read that it is typical for people in my situation to not necessarily be suicidal but to not particularly care if they live or die.  I believe that.  I have felt that way often.  Moving to where I'm six miles from Heinz Field doesn't always change that.  You pull yourself out of bed in the morning because you have to.  Because people rely on you to be there for whatever reason.  And sometimes that's the only reason you do.  It's like being a zombie.  You don't really feel anything and just live to live because your body hasn't shut down yet, but you would be okay if it did.  You might not even notice.  After two plus years one would kind of hope not to feel that way anymore, but there are days when you do.  Maybe the days stretch into weeks.  And, looking outside at leaden skies with a damp chill in the air probably doesn't help much.  So, why bother, I ask myself?  Because, eventually the skies will clear, and the air will take on that fresh feeling of fall that I remember from my childhood, and it would be a shame to miss it.  And, besides, hockey season starts tomorrow.

Zombieland, Columbia Pictures (2009)

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