I had a good run of attending San Diego Comic-Con. My first three were with my wife and, after she lost interest, my last two were with friends. I made the habit of calling her every night before bed so that we could connect and stave off missing each other. During the 2017 convention I was talking with my wife on the phone and it was clear something was wrong. It didn’t take much to get it out of her: her mother had suffered a catastrophic medical emergency twenty-four hours prior to our call. I immediately packed my gear, rented a car, and drove home. When we were reunited she explained the long delay in telling me was because the emergency was under control and that neither her nor her mom wanted it to affect my time at the convention. I had been to five consecutive Comic-Cons. During one the neighboring community to where we live caught fire and during another her uncle died. The concern was that by foiling another convention that I would decide to never return.
The result of the emergency is that my mother-in-law now lives in our home and she is bed-ridden. My wife essentially acts as her nurse. It’s a situation that is almost untenable. The key issue is that my mother-in-law is incapable of being left alone for any real stretch of time. For the past two years my wife has been confined to a short driving radius around our house because she needs the ability to return swiftly should anything arise. No long shopping trips, no trips to neighboring counties, and certainly no day trips. This is having a profound effect upon my wife and upon me. I leave the house five days a week for my office job but my wife is self-employed and works from home. Basically she is chained to the house. There are plenty of other issues with boarding and tending an old person. The net result of them all is to have depressed my home. My wife and I both spiraled down into listless states. We’ve stopped tending our bodies, our spirits, and our home.
One of the noticeable effects upon me was that I lost interest in everything that once interested me. I no longer wanted to go to the big convention. I no longer wanted to go to any convention. I allowed our produce garden to die and then didn’t re-plant it. My overriding interest in virtual reality waned. The entertainment brands that I enjoyed – Marvel, Star Wars, et al – brought me much less joy. It was a right proper funk. My wife and mother-in-law have always been concerned about my well-being. I carry a light that I think they’re afraid they’ll extinguish. The situation was one where I believe they both felt they had finally extinguished it. My wife did everything she could to carry me through it, to keep the light shining. She bought me toys and games and pushed me into leaving the house to do the things I used to enjoy. The hardest thing, though, is that while she was trying to carry me through it I was trying to carry her through it. A part of why I felt so down is because she was so down and I was helpless. Her situation of being on house arrest for an unknown duration was spiritually draining.
Calendar year 2019 felt like it was off to a better start than previous years. We got a break on our mortgage that allowed us to put some money into a long-desired privacy hedge. We got a visit from young nieces who moved out of state in 2018 and whom we strongly missed. I got a sizable raise at work. We watched mishap going on all around us, to friends and coworkers, and yet we avoided our own mishaps or overcame them. I’ve been trying extra hard to do for my wife and she’s been trying extra hard to do for me. It feels like this year is on our side.
I grew up watching the titans of 1980s World Wrestling Federation and the rise of Hulkamania. I can’t count how many times I watched Hulk Hogan being abused by some villain, having harm heaped upon his person, on the brink of collapse, and then to thunderous applause he would Hulk out with shaking fists, thrust out chest, and enough strength to demolish all foes. The month of May was my Hulk out. All of the things I enjoyed a couple of years ago came roaring back into my life with meaning. The month opened with the tail end of a very wet rainy season. The tomato garden that I reluctantly and halfheartedly planted a month ago is now lush and overgrown, restoring my interest in the hobby. The new hotness in consumer virtual reality arrived at my front door a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a lot of excitement for the new headset and now that it’s here I’ve been given a good amount of time to play with it. My interest in VR is once again climbing. Receipt of the new headset even has me revisiting my older VR headset and discovering some big new titles for it, too. I’ve logged more VR hours in May than I have in January through April combined. Also this month, two of the biggest names in pop culture had their grand finales and I got to experience them both as immediately as possible; Game of Thrones ended its eight-season run and the Marvel Cinematic Universe retired its a-list heroes with Avengers: Endgame. We also got a new season of Sneaky Pete to binge and now there’s a good looking crop of summer movies, plus Stranger Things and Jessica Jones to watch. My ho-hum attitude towards pop culture properties has been replaced by an attitude of enthusiasm. This attitude shift was in part bolstered by my wife surprising me with the Stranger Things LEGO set. We have gift budgets set for the holidays and birthdays and the LEGO set was too expensive to fit those budgets so she gave it to me as soon as it arrived, thus side-stepping the budget rule. Then, honestly, the kicker of this month of absurd indulgences was a trip to Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on its opening day. This was huge for a couple of reasons. The first is that I’m a Star Wars nerd of old. I’m not the kind that bleats about the prequels or Disney’s treatment of the brand on Twitter. I’m the other kind – the kind that consumes all the programs and reads the books and enjoys the world for it all. The visit to Galaxy’s Edge was amazing and overwhelming. I cried a bit at the power of it all. The trip was huge for a much bigger reason though: it was the first time since mother-in-law moved in that my wife and I were out of the house all day. We prepped mother-in-law for the occasion by loading her fridge with food and drink and supplying her cat with enough to eat. We boarded the big dog and accepted that the little dog would crap in the house. We were gone for fourteen hours. The thing is it felt okay. I mean, we kept expecting her to text with some fabricated or easily solved emergency but she didn’t. She let us be. Whatever spell she has that chains my wife to the house has been weakened. I think that’s really the best gift that May gave us and the one that has me fully on my feet, ready to lift up my wife with all the strength I have.