It Is for Us, the Living

A picture might be too much.

It is my unfortunate responsibility to inform you that I no longer have a roommate. Following a few weeks of sickness, minimal eating and rather disturbing croaking, he was relegated to that great terrarium in the sky.

Honestly, I’m over it.

And I don’t think I’ll replace him.

See, Twerp and his environs were yet another manifestation of a perversion I’m discovering in new and varied corners my life: potential.

I’ve always been told I have potential. Certain events supported that notion. But somewhere along the way, I began to confuse potential with achievement. Learning precluded graduating. A quick start forestalled a strong finish. Flexibility delayed function.

And how does a dead turtle teach this?

To know that, you must know my turtle as I knew him.

Twerp’s story begins last summer when I began considering ways to make my apartment less sterile without becoming plush. It was a delicate balance for a guy who would happily accept the label of metro, but refuses on principle to invest the time or money to achieve that end. Life seemed an appropriate addition.

I got a plant from a leaving teacher and planned to get a fish. Then fish fever break out among the foreign teachers. I suppose it’s pride that disallows following a trend you start, but fish were no longer an option. My fourth-floor friends came to the rescue with a turtle. I realized the need to upgrade his living space from the plastic cube he arrived in, and secured a turtle tank big enough for swimming and equipped with ramped basking deck. Somehow, it never went anywhere from there. I knew where and how to get stones for the bottom. I planned for plants to decorate the place and provide him a more balanced diet, but I never did. I envisioned a spectacular microcosm of life and color and joy. He died never knowing how nice his world could have been.

In Memoriam of Twerp: (sometime before) 19 September 2008 - 19 April 2009
In Memoriam of Twerp: (sometime before) 19 September 2008 – 19 April 2009

So, in memoriam of my reptilian friend, I’ve dedicated myself to restricting my experiential base and building some sort of structure on it.

May we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

I Finally Felt It

I have a new roommate and a new appreciation for life.

See, I had a birthday last week. If you missed it, don’t feel bad. More people than I could remember remembered it for you. And I’ve always had a sort of soft spot for underplaying my birthday anyway. This one was a little different, though.

I didn’t have any big party or anything, and I’m glad. But I got every form of birthday greeting invented since the Qing Dynasty. One friend that was away started the day off by having another friend come to my dorm to deliver a gift and card. Text messages started rolling in from friends, colleagues and bosses. Various ecards got themselves delivered to my inbox. I had voice mails from home waiting when I got back from a nice lunch with Vic and May. The birthday wish that had been left on my door had an addendum from an English-speaking Japanese teacher. A few friends made contact via IM. Karyn, Kelly and Divena, with their powers combined, secured me both the turtle I’d been thinking about buying and homemade dessert (two separate items for those of you that were concerned about it) for our Friday night meeting, even though it was Chinese take-out night. Another couple of friends provided candy and Chinese study aids to be the last gifts of the day (though not the weekend). I even looked forward to checking the hateful new wall with its full load of birthday messages.

To revel in such an outpouring of love seems to counter my claim of preferring an understated birthday. This was a special birthday, though. It reminded me of the countless contributors to the life I was measuring. Each variant of those two words (or four characters) came from someone that had in some way touched my life. A person without whom I would be different. Weaker. Poorer.

My camera-shy new roommate
My camera-shy new roommate

I offer sincere thanks both to those who have made me this twenty-three year old and for them.

And to those of you who didn’t say anything, no hard feelings. You just missed your chance to be thanked.

But I’m still thankful for you.

Aside: For those of you who were kind enough to refrain from asking what must be the most pointless question of the ages, this time it actually does feel different. I feel as if I’m transitioning from ‘college age’ to ‘young adult’. I guess that means I see myself as needing to think a little more long-term. I’ve been trying to do so for a while now, but it was a good reminder. I have nothing to report on that front, but I’m more aware now. And rest assured if i felt this one, I won’t feel another for a good long while. And I will be annoyed if you ask.