Out of Step

“I can’t keep up, I can’t keep up, I can’t keep up; out of step with the world.” So begins the chorus of the song “Out of Step” by Minor Threat. While the singer, Ian MacKaye, had written the song about the way he felt in abstaining from smoking, drinking, and promiscuous sex, which would later inspire the straight edge movement, the lyrics remind me about how I feel most of the time these days. At the end of June, in 2018, I woke up in the hospital after having a ruptured brain aneurysm. The recovery process had been and continues to be surreal in that it’s still difficult to reconcile with some of the emotional turmoil. Thankfully, I’ve mostly adapted to the physical problems. Of course, what had been a very personal experience became universal once the pandemic hit. If you subscribe to the idea of a multiverse, one idea I’ve considered is that I awoke in the wrong timeline. Is this really Alternate 2021, and I need to go back in time to prevent Biff from giving himself Grey’s Sports Almanac? The interesting (sad) thing is that if I did have access to a time-traveling Delorean, I would probably revisit the summer of 2000 to be able to have one more taste of life before responsibilities and obligations became the primary motivating factors. You can read about these exploits further in my essays about Nintendo 64 Goldeneye and All-Star Baseball ’99. At some point, I imagine I’ll be contacted by someone who will confirm my suspicion about alternate timelines, and then ask me to find and disarm a bomb that has been hidden aboard a train. It’s at that point I’ll realize I’ve plagiarized part of the plot of the film Source Code. Before the aneurysm and the pandemic, I had certain life goals. As a result of the events of the last few years, these goals no longer have the same value. What’s been challenging is trying to figure out what the new goals are. I had wanted to settle down and possibly start a family. Just before the Pandemic, I went out on a date with someone attractive and funny; not to mention, we had an enjoyable lunch. This was after I had gone out on a few dates and figured out if and when to reveal the fact I’d had a brain injury. There was an episode of David Spade’s recent show “Lights Out with David Spade” in which he chaperoned one of the show’s writers on a date. The writer mentions a recent skiing trip: “I went to Aspen over New Year’s Eve. I had fun; more fun than the last time I went because the last time I went I had a stroke.” He then asks David Spade “How soon should I bring up the stroke?” David Spade responds “I think… later.” While the revelation of my injury during our date wasn’t problematic, I also realized I had no emotional reaction to anything. If I saw this person again; if I never saw this person again, it wouldn’t matter. Intellectually, I could recognize her positive qualities, but emotionally it was like watching a film about paint drying. Some days are easier than others to accept that. Other times, I feel I can’t keep up. However, I’ve also discovered recovery and life are similar to the lyrics in the song “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat. “I take two steps forward. I take two steps back. We come together ’cause opposites attract.” So, while I might have trouble keeping up, I hold out hope. Like Andy Dufresne says in The Shawshank Redemption “Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. In June of 2018, he survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His other work can be found in links on his website: asdavie.wordpress.com

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