Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Cruelest Month

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
- T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

Recently an old friend of mine flew out from California for the funeral of his wonderfully funny and sweet mother. As with most funerals people reacquaint themselves with old friends and after the business of transporting the deceased to her resting place, I spent some time with Fred, recounting the exploits of our twenties and updating each other on our current lives.

Fred is a programmer and I am interested in tech so the conversation steered towards the topics of Facebook, Twitter, blogging etc. When I commented on how I don’t see the usefulness in Twitter, microblogging the minutiae of your life, as I had a blog I keep forgetting to update, he responded with a “yes, I know. I stopped following it because you stopped posting.”

Oops. Let me explain.

I had not intended to let April pass by with few or no posts, but April began to get a little weird on me and I decided to wait it out.

Wait it out? Yes. April and I have a bad history together.

I’m not sure when I became aware of my dysfunctional relationship with April, but I do remember hearing a seemingly happy girl at a party in early October some years ago relate how bad things happened in October to her. A parent’s death. An eviction. A boyfriend in jail. Several relationships dissolving into mess. A car accident where she was injured and hospitalized for two months, bones broken, etc… She seemed to be not so much confessing these things happened than warning us just to wait, it’s coming, the next bad October thing.

Years later I’ve forgotten that girl’s name, and even some of the details of the party, but I distinctly remember her sitting on a blue futon, in a yellow sweater and white shirt and having a eureka moment: “Aha! That’s me and April.”

Despite March ending as a lion or a lamb, despite beginning with April Fool’s day, having Shakespeare’s birthday, National Poetry Month, Earth Day and usually Easter, April contains Tax Day, cold April showers, Hitler’s birthday (a national holiday for the ultra right nuts in the US), the anniversary of Colombine, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Oklahoma City Bombing.

But for me, the first creeping of warmer New England weather brings bad, bad things. I have my own history of fights, break ups, friendship ending confrontations, depressive episodes, long periods of insomnia, car crashes, job drama, injuries great and small and a mass of other misfortunes occurring in April. When I die, it will probably be in some April, hopefully, years from now.

Twenty-one years ago a friend of mine killed herself in April and her death left me in shock for a weekend and emotionally bruised for years. And in 2000, when my apartment caught fire with me in it and destroyed or ruined or marked every single thing I owned, it was in April, damnable April, that it occurred.

After that I decided April cannot brutalize me anymore and has no more evil to do to me. But late this March, I kept seeing coincidences that were either remembrances or foreshadowing of unpleasant events, so I decided to go to earth, as it were, and keep a low profile till May came.

Nothing bad happened, knock wood, and I should have poked my head out of by blogger hole in early May when I saw lilac trees blooming. We’ve always had some lilac trees growing up in our home in Connecticut. They bloom regularly, early to mid May, for only two weeks. Their appearance and the powerful sent of their tiny blossoms are the sign that the dark clouds of April are gone and the beauty of May is here.

I have no excuse for not posting in May, however.