How much has my life changed over the last decade plus? While no one asked me this question, it is something that crossed my mind today. Why not try blogging it out, and see what it stirs up? How far back to go for a comparison? I thought 2000, but no, I was already on the downslope, even though it hadn’t yet manifested in ugly ways. And curiously, it was probably the zenith of my self-employment. 1998? No, something life changing happened that spring. And so, I pushed back another year. 1997.

The easy comparison is age. In the summer of 1997, I was 43.

In 1997, I was self-employed, building a good business. I was a stay at home parent to a five year old, with another daughter in the seventh grade. I was the neighbourhood kindergarten transport, a duty I’d assumed less than two years before. Three little munchkins schooled together, and I had the honour to listen to their conversations to and fro, as well as more than occasionally have them at the house either before or after school. Every night I had kidlet stories to share with the parents of the other two.

In 1997, in fall and winter, as I had for twenty years, my face was covered with hair. A year later, I would declare an end to that practise.

In 1997, we had two kitties, Sparkles and Licorice, both black cats. We had Logan, half Black Lab, half Newfie.

In 1997, we had a beef with the school administration over words my daughter used in defending someone being bullied. We agreed her words were not a wise choice, and understood that under school rules she would be punished. What made us crazy was that the administration refused to listen to her version of the story, and the bully went unpunished. We made a lot of noise over that one, but nothing changed as far as I know. I couldn’t say it, but a big part of me was proud she stuck up for someone being picked on, even if the words by which she did so were not a great choice.

In 1997, my eldest was taking horseback riding lessons with a friend. I would transport them out to the farm. They were braver than me, because I’m afraid of horses.

In 1997, I was driving a 1997 black 4Runner. Now I drive a 1999 Plummobile aka Honda Accord.

In 1997, I was building a deck behind our home. A big deck. In the summer of 1997, I would sneak kids out after their bedtime on hot nights and let them swim. I miss those sneak outs.

In 1997, I was using an NEC computer with 33 MHZ clock speed, and accessing AOL via dial up, our last year of such access. In April 1998, Media One introduced cable internet in our area, and I’m not going to delve in the implications of that change. I’ll just say monumental. At the same time, I bought my first Dell, with 50 times the power and storage.

In 1997, trips to Boston were routine. That same summer, I drove my eldest to TF Green airport in Rhode Island, and put her on a Southwest flight, alone. When we arrived at the airport, they were not going to allow me to walk with her to her gate. I raised a hell of a fuss, I was quite insistent that my daughter was not going there alone. The let me in.

At the gate, an aloof agent would not give me any assurance of her being escorted onto the plane, or off the plane and to her flight change at the next stop. Once she boarded, I fumed for the two hour drive home, and went nuts on some unfortunate Southwest customer service rep once I arrived home.

By the way, 1997 was the year of my first cell phone, with US Cellular. Weirdly, our home, a mile from two county lines, was in roaming territory.

In 1997, I watched a hell of a lot more television than I do now. My favourite programme was Ally McBeal. In many ways, Ally and I were dysfunctional pals, both with our fictions. Me, I was living it, Calista was acting it. The show ended in 2002, when I was a full fledged fuck up.  And one episode along the way ripped me open like the jaws of life, for the first time allowing me to touch, however momentary, the other side of me I so yearned to be.

And alcohol. We liked to have a beer or glass of wine or a margarita or sangria, or two, or three. Now, post prison camp days, I like the taste of beer, but I hate the buzz. I have maybe one drink a week, usually wine, but my days of liking a buzz are over. If there is one thing in my life where I was fortunate, it is for avoiding an addiction.

In 1997, I brewed my own beer. In 1997, we had neighbourhood parties. It was a good neighbourhood.

I’m not certain of this, but I’m pretty sure that along with it being the last year of facial hair, it was also the last year of leg hair in winter. I had to leave it alone in summer, but… while sitting with shorts on, I’d casually twist hair and rip it out. It got to the point that the pain of hair plucking was a sign of me rebelling against a male body, the beginnings of my war on myself.

I’m also not certain of this one, but I believe 1997 is when I retiled the upstairs bath, including building a custom, tiled countertop for the vanity. And I built a Shaker coffee table that is right behind me.

September of 1997 is the last time I saw my father. My ten year old 4Runner, bought new in 1987, was at mile 240,000 and done. Time for new. The night before the trade, the old won’t start. The next day, Dad follows me to Wal-Mart, where I buy a new battery, knowing it would only work long enough to get me to the dealer, since the problem was likely the generator. Dad follows me to the dealer. I park right in front of the sales manager’s glass walled office. Dad tells me to pull the battery. What! No way… but that memory got me through his funeral, it made me laugh, and it still does.

In 1997, I was married, and we owned a home.

In 1997, it was normal for us to spend summer weekends in Vermont. And to spend a few days in Quebec City.

In 1997 I was a year away from significant weight loss that started with the flu.

In 1997, my eldest daughter slept on a one bed ‘bunkbed’, that is an elevated bed with desk space underneath, that I built.

In 1997, I thought I would die closeted.

I read every night at bedtime. Clancy was my favourite read; his books came out every two years, and I’d pounce. In 1997, I also loved reading Star Trek serials, and had about every one up to like 60 or so.

In 1997, as it was for decades, my favourite band was The Who. Now, I’m a huge Beth Orton fan.

In 1997, if I wished to see weather radar, I turned on the Weather Channel.

In 1997, most of my grocery shopping was at Shaws.

In 1997, we spent a lot of time at a neighbourhood restaurant and bar. We would walk in, and before we sat down, two beers would get to the table ahead of us. The owner kept Newcastle on hand just for us.

Things change in life, and I’m not one to challenge the inevitability of change, or complain about where I am at any given point in time. I look back not in lament so much as to take stock before I face forward and move on towards the future.

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