The Adventures of Kidney Boy

A Journal About Living With End Stage Renal Disease. Dialysis. Transplants. Love. Family. Friends. The Unsung Donor. This is my life, from the end of a needle to the bottom of a pill bottle.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Last Dances

 For years, on Christmas Eve, my mother's family would gather at my Grandparent's house - a big ole place on the edge of town, just down from a little stream.  When my Grandparents moved to smaller accommodations in the 90s, my Aunt & her husband bought the old house, moved their family in, but they kept the tradition of Christmas Eve alive there. I was lucky enough to spend many Christmas celebrations there - most of my life, well over 30 years worth.  I can still picture so many of them in my mind - always impeccably decorated, the food was... legendary.  Serving almost 100 people is no easy feat, but they always made it happen.  I saw all my cousins, we shared stories, sang songs. Had drinks, made merry. I usually played guitar at some point.  I really can't express the warmth my heart feels thinking about it all. A few years ago, festivities moved to my other Uncle & Aunt's place... after years, and so much effort - deservedly, my Aunt and her family got a break from hosting duties.  But, well... the pandemic hit.  And last year, we had no gather.  Again this year... we have no gathering.  I always knew those times would end - us "kids" have grown, we have families of our own... the size of the parties was nigh on untenable.  So, our traditions change... but I will always carry those moments in my heart.

Point is, though, I didn't know the last time at my grandparents house was the last time we'd have our celebration there. Sometimes you don't know when that last dance is. And, the human tendency is to never think of those things - which is why so many people are shocked when things end, I suppose.  But, for me, it's another reminder that sometimes you have to enjoy things like it might be the last dance. And you think back on it all, and you're just happy that you got to be in that number.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Contentment and Happiness

 The pursuit of happiness is probably the most human of all experiences.  It's pretty much universal for everyone, in an esoteric sense.  It's the details that vary from person to person - what makes one person happy is not what makes another happy.  Life is often spent trying to figure out what that intangible goal is.  But more than happiness, which can be fleeting - for me, the ultimate goal is contentment.

So many people are just not content with life - they pursue that which they think makes them happy.  Often when they obtain the very goal they've been striving for, for some reason, they are unsatisfied with it. I suppose many people are looking for some kind of epiphany - something greater than just existence seems to offer.  I don't know, these are the philosophic questions that have driven men mad since the dawn of time and much better words and treatises have been written by better people than I over the years.  But, for me, feeling content in my place in this world is the ultimate goal.  The ultimate inner peace.  I've felt contentment before.  Many people will just never be content, though.  There's always something else to pursue, something else to obtain. I know I will be content again, and in many aspects of my life - I am content.  Many things that make me content are quite simple, and I really enjoy knowing that.  Others are not quite as easy, but I'm making my way.  I'm wishing everyone a little more contentment this year, during the holidays.  Take that time out to love and appreciate whatever it is you have that provides some happiness and perhaps contentment.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Size is relative

 When I was a kid, our neighbors and friends down the road had, well, a really cool backyard.  An above-ground pool, all kinds of stuff on the edge of the woods, and there was a large tree where their older kids had built a tree fort.  To me, as a 5/6 year old, it seemed so massively tall and huge.  I was afraid to climb up into it - besides, it was like the older kid's clubhouse.  But eventually, I did climb the ladder up to it - as I recall (and this might not be how it was, after almost 40 years now, my memory has faded in places) but I remember the ladder just being 2x4's nailed into the tree.  It seemed like they went up 100feet and there were 100 of them.  There were probably 10... it was probably 7-8 feet off the ground.  But at the time... it seemed so large.

Sometimes the size of things really tricks us - our own minds really can twist things around and make things seem much larger than they are.  When you're a kid, it's the physical world. As I've aged, it's been the mental world that's gotten to big for me sometimes.  Sometimes I have problems that seem so large and insurmountable, that I don't face them.  I hide, or I put it to the side for a while.  But, eventually, I start to climb that ladder.  And after some time, perspective shows me that the massive size I imagined wasn't always the case.

I've cleared some large hurdles in my life - some that most people would never have to climb.  But I did them, and they don't seem so bad to me.  Sometimes it's the simple things that trip me up.  But in the end, I have to remind myself that I can do pretty much anything.  And, often, if I fail... I'm still where I was.  And I can try again.

Writing this little missive is a reminder to me of that - I can conquer most anything. I'm stronger and better than I know, and sometimes I have to throw fear off a bit and try harder than I did before.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The wind is like a knife that chills you to the bone.

 It was a cold night here in Central New York.  I ventured out of my house for an event at the Museum of Science and Technology (MoST) where I was promoting the video games I make. Getting out of the house still seems weird in this era of the pandemic, and I actually had a lot of anxiety about it all day today.  It's not even about being sick; I've just found myself dealing with more social anxiety than I ever have in my life.  I used to be quite a social person, but I've become more introspective as I've aged and I've found I really don't need, want or require the stimulus of being out in public like I once did when I was younger.  I'm okay with this; my time as a social butterfly was fun, but not something that really brings me a ton of joy.  However, it was nice to force myself up and out - stepping outside of your routines and your comfort zone is good for one's self, and I did enjoy being out.  I often feel trapped in my own head at things like this - but it was nice to show off the work that me and my friends have made. I do often spend the quieter moments where I'm not engaging with other people, reflecting back on my life - who Steve was at 25 vs. 30, vs. now is an interesting experience.  I'd like to think I have a little bit more "chill" than I once did; I was kind of hyper and spastic when I was younger.  It's how I coped with existence.  But I enjoy seeing how I've changed and grown, and it's a real introspective moment in the middle of the madness that kind of centers me.

But as I packed up my stuff into a suitcase, and rolled it outside, I strolled upon the sidewalk for a bit, in Downtown Syracuse in December on a very cold, slightly windy and snowless night.  Armory Square bustled with life, even in these frozen times.  The lights of the city stood aglow all around me and the wind whipped through my coat, chilling me to the bone.  I get cold very easily these days, due to my anemia, and I recall the crazy, foolish young man I was once who had no problem with the cold. I was that asshole who would be wearing shorts in December, with a coat on above them.  No more - I felt older, and colder, as I walked that side walk - but I appreciated that I had the age and wisdom behind me to appreciate the cold beauty of the evening, and to just be glad I was alive and out and about in this world. I've almost lost it all more times than I can count, and any day I get to be able to walk along the street of my own accord and feel the wind on my skin is a win.  In life, even the mundane moments are a blessing, and I took note of it as I reached my car, put my belongings inside, and prepared to drive myself home after a night out.  My life is far from perfect, but it's my life and I'm still living it - which really is a miracle.  Sometimes good fortune and miracles is being chilled to the bone and being conscious enough to realize it's happening to you.  I drove home in the cold and the dark, lights of the city fading behind me as I drove the freeway home.  Driving down a road I've traversed literal thousands of times, and thankful that I have gotten more chances to do so.  Tomorrow I'm going to get more in the season, set up my Christmas Tree, decorate my house and spend time with my children, and - god - I look forward to it so much.