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Gotta Keep Smiling

It’s interesting how sometimes disparate events in your life come together to affect significant change. Sometimes it feels as if change has been let loose upon rational constraints rendering the future more ambiguous than we would like to think it is. In a two and a half  week period three incidents occurred in my life which, each taken alone were not insignificant, but taken cumulatively mean big time change. Oh well.

Change 1: Michelangelo’s

Michelangelo’s closed. Actually it wasn’t called Michelangelo’s when it closed. In the seventeen years Roberta and I went to Michelangelo’s it went through two name changes. First to Locale and then to Osteria, but we never stopped calling it Michelangelo’s.

We’ve been going to Michelangelo’s every Friday we were both in town for seventeen years. We knew the staff. If truth be told, as staff members came and then departed, we cultivated a rather symbiotic relationship with them all, which, I think, benefited everyone (the possible exception being the owner, Ludovico). Years ago Mario, the then manager, would come to our table to complain about life, well mostly his life. One day out of the blue he started giving us free classes of wine, I guess for our trouble. That set the ball rolling and each new staff member learned that we were given certain benefits which through time included free bread and olives, free glasses of wine and grappa (for me) and limoncello (for Roberta) after dinner. We in return gave them a healthy tip. It worked for seventeen years.

Michelangelo'sMore importantly Roberta and I did a lot of living in that restaurant. We talked about everything and nothing. We made important and trivial decisions. We laughed. A few times we cried. We fought (and on a few occasions fought big time!). Michelangelo’s was where we went to celebrate and to mourn. It was where we talked about job nightmares and cancer. It’s where we dreamed and kept our feet on the ground.

While it seems like a small thing that one’s favourite restaurant would close, it actually can be a really big deal. For the past few Fridays we have been wondering close to home looking in restaurant windows looking for a new home (and learning that a dinner out cost a hell of a lot more without the "benefits"). The picture left top is me sitting at our favourite table. Gotta keep smiling.

Change 2: Clinical Nurse Specialist

My clinical nurse specialist, David, is leaving the Royal Free Hospital, which is also to say he is leaving me. For the past three years, from the moment he looked me in the eyes and told me I had cancer until last week when he told me I’m all clear a year after surgery, he has been taking care of me. David has been professional and caring, truthful and understanding. He kept on top of things even when I was sent to another hospital for my radical prostatectomy. When you have a prostatectomy you go home from the hospital with a catheter. After ten days I went to David to have the catheter removed and begin (what thankfully turned out to be only a few days) wearing diapers and pads. Getting the catheter out was great, but having to wear man-diapers seemed terribly embarrassing before the fact. However, David handled the situation in such an understated and professional manner, I was totally at ease. I mean, he did so much more for me over the three years, but you don’t forget a guy who puts you at ease while he’s pulling a tube out of you penis and then telling you how to wear a man-diaper. And now he’s gone. He left me. I’m on my own. Well not really. I’ll be assigned another nurse, but it sure feels like abandonment. Don’t forget I’m talking about cancer here. Losing David is like losing my guide out of Cancerland. Gotta keep smiling.

Change 3: Moving

My SpaceWe’re moving from London. I can’t comment on why we’re leaving London – probably get Roberta in trouble if I did – but it means I’m moving from the house, home, I’ve lived in for the past seventeen years. The longest I had ever lived in one place before this was five years, so this is a big deal. This house, the garden, Golders Green, Michelangelo’s, the news agent, Baskin Robins, the buses and tube, and our neighbours Helen and Jack have been good to me. (During our first Hanukah here we went next door and gave Jack and Helen a gift. Roberta said, “Just a small gift to thank you for being such good neighbours.” Jack immediately responded, “I’ll have to be a better neighbour and get a bigger gift next year.”)

My SpaceMoving from London also means leaving my study, my space. It’s more than possible in my new home I will have a new my space, but it won’t be this my space where I now write. I was Skyping a friend in California last week, again in my study, and when I tried explaining the significance of leaving my space he looked bemused. So I explained: this is the one place in the entire universe where I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about what I do with or in my space. In my space I have total self-actualisation, not defining myself by what others think of me or their judgments about how I spend my time. If you criticise our living room, well that would probably affect me. I might react with embarrassment or defensiveness. But if you criticise my study, I don’t really give a damn, and I might tell you so. This is the one place where I feel completely at home, in a place I completely created. Laugh, cry, ridicule, be indifferent to what I’ve done. Matters not a jot to me. Not here. Seventeen years of my space is about to change. Gotta keep smiling.

The forces of changes have been let loose in my life in a metaphorical blink of an eye. What am I going to do! Well for starters, find a new restaurant, be assigned a new clinical nurse specialist and move to a new house. Simples. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just the inevitable movement of time. The universe will do me no favours. Nor is it out to get me. Still, I can’t help but look over my shoulder while looking forward wondering what might be around the next corner.

Copyright © 2013 Dale Rominger

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