One year ago today, I was offline, being kept alive by a heart/lung machine, although at this exact moment, I think I was once again a creature purely organic and had technically come to. I don't remember anything, though, until what seemed like the middle of the night, which was really like 6 p.m.. Not 24 hours earlier, I'd thought about the possibility of succumbing to anesthetic blackness and never returning, and decided that I -- despite the unfulfilled promise of the meat I'd been -- was glad I'd been alive and did not feel it had been a ride to regret.
Four weeks later, the nurse practitioner in my sturgeon's lair said I must be feeling as if I had a brand new life.
Nah, I answered. Same old life.
Just a brand new scar.
I wished it was a brand new life.
But I knew better.
No surprise then that, last night, on the anniversary of my coulda been farewell embrace of being, I was somewhat less sure I'd been worthwhile, realizing I'd let a year go by with nothing but continued existence to show for it. I'd never again contacted the woman who opened my post-surgical morning with a gentle massage and talk of the art world. Never went to the New York Botanical Garden up in the Bronx. Hadn't called the girl from that Flatbush bar I had promised to take to karaoke. The nurse practitioner was right. I'd had -- and squandered -- a full year of brand new life.
Scrambling for salvation, I thought I could validate my survival by partaking of Haagen-Dazs' free ice cream offer. But that required doing it, going there, standing up. And it was still so early in the day.
At least there was, that night, the special karaoke, with live accompaniment by a guy from The Psychedelic Furs. I could make meaningful my existence with some lusty Greenpoint bellowing. A week before surgery I'd gone and sung as if it might be the last time I ever sang (in case it was). Could I be that great again? Surely, a worthy use of new life.
As departing hour approached, however, I discovered a friend was having a hard time and while I waited for him to call and share more travails, I fell asleep. Then I started to get ready, but, you know, was it worth it to go late and maybe only get to sing one song? Seemed desperate.
The glory of new life is, you can wait, there'll be another day. Approach things calmly and savor them, yeah, that's the stuff. In the meantime, I could honor my presence on Planet Here with sleep. After all, the dead don't sleep, they rest. It's different.
Today, I woke up early, just like last year, only this time I didn't burn my nipples clearing hair off chest and belly with Nair. And at perhaps the precise moment that my body temperature had, 12 months earlier, been lowered to Captain America levels of freeze, I was trudging up and down some 60 flights of stairs.
Gotta stay in shape 'til I can start my brand new life. Gotta sing more songs.
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