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What It Means to Live in Berkeley parade.
October 12th, 1999

Had I Hadn't Done That
I talked with the surgeon in Palo Alto today and he went over the sleep study results. Lots of numbers back and forth, but basically I now have a mild case of sleep apnea instead of a life threatening case of sleep apnea, no additional surgery is recommended, the mouth will feel better over the next six months, the sleeping will get better over the next six months, he'll take care of the insurance company and their denial for payment of the sleep study itself and he'll see me in six months, good luck, happy to hear you're sleeping fine and not falling asleep at the wheel of your automobile in heavy traffic.

I'm OK with that. The numbers were interesting and I suspect life would be better if they were lower, but life is still pretty good. No free lunch, but I can sleep, I don't snore and although I wake up every now and then in the middle of the night, it's nothing like the battles that led me down this road in the first place. No more mask and plastic tube. No more pump. No more cleaning the air filters every week. No more putting off cleaning the air filters every week and really only doing them every month. Or so.

Wuss, by the way, is still hungry. He keeps me apprised.

Although I drove into work this morning so I could leave for the doctor's appointment Another OAT at lunch. in Palo Alto before noon (40 miles, 60 minute drive if you don't hit traffic), I returned to my apartment and walked back. I have this little voice, very faint, but very clear that says, now and then, "walking is good". This apartment is located one mile and a half from my office and walking to work every day makes a difference in how I feel and my attitude(s). Had a conversation about that with Beth. What seemingly small events in our lives, a move by our family to a new location (across the country), for example, when we were young, a choice made to do this instead of that, what choices like those have changed our lives radically over time from what they might otherwise have been? One road taken, one road not and blooey! the result of that choice is written in stone twenty miles wide. Do I really think walking to work is that important, will make that much difference? I don't know. Probably not. But ask me again in five years. If I'm still here.

My family moved from north of Seattle to north of New York City when I was twelve. Big change in the environment. Lots of stories to tell. You can hang a lot of laundry on a move like that, I did this, I did that, I might have done something else. Beth and I talked about that: what if we and our families (in our separate times and lives) hadn't moved?

When I lived north of Seattle, I'd walk home from the school bus stop along a wooded and not very well traveled dirt road. My mother received a letter from one of our old neighbors not long after we'd moved saying a utility truck had been working on the power lines on that road not far from our house about the time I normally came home. The metal boom had, for whatever reason, touched the power lines and sat with two dead men in the back ready to electrocute anyone else who might touch it for over an hour. Someone stupid like a thirteen year old kid returning from school.

I knew something about electricity when I was thirteen and I don't think I'd Another OAT at lunch. have touched that truck. Dead men are pretty obviously dead under those circumstances and I think I would have high tailed it home. But maybe, who knows, maybe I wouldn't. Maybe my fate would have been to touch that truck. The woman who wrote the letter had a son my age and I usually walked that road with him back from school. He hadn't been there that day and he hadn't found the truck. He didn't know that much about electricity, as I recall, and maybe that's just as well. Maybe somewhere, out of time, out of place, I was given a choice: Take the trip to New York and deal with it as best I was able or touch a truck. Which would you choose? Right. Little changes, big results. Walk to work, ride to work.

Maybe walking will allow me to live forever, maybe not. Maybe a drunk will drive up on the sidewalk, me walking around the corner distracted, as it happens, by a dark haired woman with the wind in her skirts and kapowie!, should have kept my parking pass. So I guess it's a foolish question this: what mighta been had I hadn't done that.

The banner photograph was taken at the What It Means to Live in Berkeley parade. The first OAT in the picture is a senior networking kind of an OAT. Which means he gets calls in the middle of the night. Server down! The second OAT is a common garden variety OAT who isn't let within five miles of a server and never gets calls in the middle of the night. Different strokes for different OATS.