Shortly after the Anthrax scare of ’01, my father handed me a bottle of Cipro. It was a birthday gift, actually.
“It’s the antidote,” he said.
“I know. Why is it in my hand?” I asked.
“Just in case.”
“What about you?” I said. “Don’t you need this too?”
“I’ve lived my life,” he said. “You haven’t yet.”
I laughed silently at this. My dad has always been a fatalist. Just before Y2K he advised me to buy 10 cans of beans and a can opener, just in case the world came to an apocalyptic halt at midnight that New Year’s Eve. I went to Vegas instead.
Yesterday, I got a Light Box in the mail from my mother. This is essentially a rectangular pane of light that you place near your face for 15-45 minutes per day. The light can help some people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mood conditions, and some believe this is because the light impacts Serotonin, which has been linked to mood.
When I called for an explanation, she simply said, “It’s a late birthday present. You’ve been sounding down lately. Just try it.”
She was right. Life has been a little depressing lately, especially when you get multiple pass letters from publishing houses on a daily basis and some of your personal relationships could be described as “sucky,” to use Dr. Pete’s word. That said, I didn’t really consider myself a candidate for a Light Box, although I politely thanked her and hung up.
Tonight, I sat down in my powder blue, $8 pajamas from Marshalls (again, thank you Mom) on the floor. I looked at the Light Box and the Cipro (yes, I still have it despite the fact that it expired years ago) sitting in front of me. These items taken together, one to treat sullen mood, the other to inhibit DNA gyrase (I think), say a lot about my parents. They are strange people. Weird, neurotic, abnormal, unbalanced people who give boxes full of lightbulbs and the antidote to Anthrax as birthday presents. But here’s the kicker: they really do care, and that fact didn’t really sink in until tonight. My dad probably lied to his doctor to get that Cipro for me, saying it was for himself. And my mother knows that I won’t share too many of my personal problems with her, so if she can’t talk me through my problems, she reaches out for anything at all that might help me. At 38, I still have their unconditional love. And that’s a lot more than many people get.
Love comes in strange forms sometimes, you know?