I woke up one morning in 2005 --August 4th, to be exact---and noticed a rather loud high-pitched ringing in my right ear. It has been there ever since, 24/7. Tinnitis. When the doctor told me what it was, he told me I should feel lucky that I wasn't a musician with tinnitis, like his wife. (Come to think of it, I learned a lot about his and his family's ills over the years of visiting him.) And when I asked what I could do about it, he said it was incurable and just to avoid quiet places and I wouldn't notice it. Great stuff, modern medicine.
I also woke up one morning in 2008 --February 14th, to be exact-- and realized that I had fallen in love. Again.
1964. I am 14. I am riding home on the bus with my best friend in high school, T. I look at him and he seems all covered with light and I feel happy and as if my insides are turning into jello.
1974. I am 26. My new friend J is someone I find myself thinking of a lot. Almost all the time. When I turn a corner and run into him, I stop breathing. When he first kissed me --the first man ever to kiss me-- I almost passed out.
1980. I am 32. A younger guy comes to stay at the house for a while because he new in town, trying to get away from family troubles. When I bring towels and stuff to his room, he turns around and smiles at me. I have to steady myself so I don't lose my balance. A few weeks later when he asks me if I want to see a movie with him, I get that jello feeling inside again. P.
1984. I am 36. I meet a guy at a community event, W. We start to chat. He is short, furry, wiry. Over the next weeks we talk on the phone. I learn more about him. At a Christmas party, someone comes over whom I know he dislikes and almost fears. I put my arm around W and lean into him, proprietary. The other guy changes course. W smiles at me. I feel like I am falling into his smile.
1987. I am 39. At a meeting in Ottawa, I look out the window and see a tall man playing with his kids in the park across the street. I go out on the porch to get a better look. He stops and looks at me from across the street. I think, "Uh, oh". Turns out he is also there for the meeting. I ask a friend who knows him to introduce me. I later find out he asked the same friend to introduce us. Three weeks later, I look over at him, lying asleep in my bed in Toronto and think, "I love him." J #2.
1993. I am 45. T and I have been seeing each other, on and off, for several months. We work together. We are as different as you can be: age, race, temperament, interests. One night he comes to the door to get me for us to go out to dinner. He has a brown suit jacket on, a new haircut, a smile. Something inside me melts and I feel as if I am in the hands of fate.
2008. I am on the cusp of 60. I met B eight months before and what started out as casual fun has progressed to real pleasure and a unique sense of aliveness just by being in his company. I wake up and he's the first thing I think of, and something in my heart feels like it opens up and I realized that I love him.
Love and tinnitis. Tinnitis, however, appears to be incurable. Also.