Monthly Archives: August 2014

Battle for life

I wanted to write something, but I have no idea how a post like this is supposed to be written. There are no right words, there is no comfort, there are no answers. Just tons of tears and a profound sense of sorrow, deep like some hell pit and the smell of hospital disinfectants that haunt my days and nights wherever I move. I am afraid to type these words, but I have to – my father is most probably dying.

What appeared to be just a battle to get him out of diabetes induced state that went widely out of control and progressed to ketoacidosis, eventually turned into an ominous discovery of cancerous lesions in his abdomen. We still haven’t found the big one, THE ONE responsible for these lesions as he is still too weak for further aggressive testing, but doctors think that considering the general state of his health that this might not even be important, that it would be just a name to put on the type of cancer he has. For these doctors my dad is not the person I know everything about, he’s just a cancer case. They left me, mentally not very stable person, standing on my two feet while they were telling me these words that sounded so unreal and out of place and put on me the pressure of choice to decide how much of what they think so far I will tell him. If anybody out there knows the way how to lie to a retired medical doctor about his state of health, please tell me how to do it. He knows too much about medicine and suspects quite enough to be fooled around, yet I still have to give him a grain of hope so that he continues to battle for his life. In order to do it, I’d need some hope myself. I need to be strong. Have you ever seen a strong PD sufferer? Till several days ago, I hardly and rarely went further than around my building. All of a sudden, I’m needed – to figure things out, make appointments, find ways how to put him into a hospital in a tragically poor country with one of the worst medical mafias in the world, be the one to whom doctors speak, run around to buy medication and other things he needs, and that’s precisely what I’m totally unfit for in the first place. I’m somehow doing all this and falling apart, but it seems to me that such situations simply numb you to the point that you can process them without going crazy for good. I was managing my PD battles precisely because I developed mechanisms of convincing myself hard that all that dreadful anxiety was not real, that it was bogus, that it can’t harm me. Anxiety and dread I’m feeling now is not much different from what I’m used to, but this time it’s not bogus. Now it’s very real and I can’t do anything about it, which in turn scares me to death. This realization alternates with derealization all the time. What is going to happen? How will he handle it? How much time do we have left? What has happened and how? How are such things processed and survived? How will i survive all this? And of all diseases out there, why cancer?

My dad has been a support in my life in different ways and now life is going to get abnormally tough, change drastically for worse, especially because PD makes me disabled in many ways and I don’t have help. Everything loses meaning and importance. When I think of my recent digital battles, I fell like screaming – how could I’ve been so stupid to get worked up for something that seems like a complete nonsense now? All those things that miss in my life due to PD now seem way much bigger and worse. Who’s gonna give me a hand when my time comes? I don’t have anybody apart from my mom and dad… I would give my stupid PD limited life this very instant to extend his much more meaningful one if things could work that way. What’s life’s purpose anyway and why for some people it has to end in terrible suffering?

I’ve said many times that whenever I start something meaningful for myself in these last years, the moment I try to do something at least a bit beautiful, I somehow get drastically punished for some reason. I took the camera out all right, but what am I supposed to do with it now? I started blogging and found some very precious joys in this special community – I didn’t get many followers but I did make here a couple of very special friendships, big hugs and so many special thanks especially to Judy, Jim and Tammy – I love you guys, your amazing blogs inspired me to start doing something artistic again and your wonderful comments gave me strength not to abandon my newly developed blogging path. I don’t know how to blog now and if I can still do it, if I’m not here it’s because I’m doing really bad, not because I forgot you or this tiny blogging space of mine.

Life’s been very cruel on me, I need those closed fists of mine now more than ever. What’s more, I’ll hate my birthday now for as long as I live, it was on August 16th that my dad took the results of his first analyses and completely forgot about me and my birthday. My only wish while I blew my two tiny cake candles was for him to get better again, but it seems that such wishes never come true. I tried to stay positive in the following days till we got him into the hospital, I wanted to show you my first zinnias’ photos because I knew that later I wouldn’t have strength for it. Or better said, I still hoped that he just needed to be switched to insulin and that things would get better. I’m desperately searching for some grain of hope now, against all odds. It seems that these are the only battles I was born for, those against all odds.

Dear God, please help me, I beg you. Now it’s all in your hands.

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My very first zinnias

zinnias

I’m dedicating this unusual post to my fellow blogger Jim who has such an incredibly fascinating garden, home of many fabulous zinnias, among dozens of wonderful flower varieties – In Jim’s garden

His beautiful photos can truly heal the soul and as I watching them on the evening before my birthday, I commented how much I loved his zinnias’ photos and that they don’t grow so easily here where I live. Actually I had never had a zinnias’ bouquet in my home… till the next morning! 😮 🙂 Was is some weird, unusual coincidence or something else I have no idea, but the next morning I got up, my mom wished me happy birthday and showed me the flowers she bought for me. I took these, she said, because I thought you might like something new… I couldn’t believe my eyes! 😮 It was as if somebody translated them from the computer screen into my real life and it was such fun having them around, so I had to immortalize that moment with some beautiful photos. 🙂

zinnia

zinnia

zinnia

zinnia

zinnia

August 16th

Tanja-baby

It’s past midnight here in Belgrade, Serbia where I live, so it’s already August 16th – even though I have a pretty challenging relationship with this particular day in the year, it’s still my birthday. I’m 38. Seems a lot in certain ways, seems hardly enough from a different perspective… the truth is probably as always somewhere in the middle, hopefully I’m somewhere in the middle of my life path. What’s certain though is that I don’t feel 38, maybe because I spent years and years just hiding and coping. Those years are one big blur, which can be condensed into a single dot in time – for me, it’s as though that time never passed, while in reality life went far ahead without me. It’s a if I’m still in my twenties in my head, still waiting for my life to unfold, to make important decisions, to overcome these mental hurdles and start living again. Then comes August 16th again and again and puts things into their real place, reminding me that things are not as good as I try to picture them to myself, which used to hurt a lot. I would lie if I said that it doesn’t not hurt any more, it just hurts less. Every year I say that next year on this day I’ll be in some much better place, but actually both me and everybody and everything around me grow just older and things get tougher. My dad is not doing really well lately, which makes my birthday much less significant than it used to be – if I could truly make a birthday wish, it would be for him to resolve his issues and start feeling better again. This picture was taken by my dad and fully developed by him as well, and it is one of the first pictures in my life. My parents say that I always held my fists tightly closed, as if I knew I would have to battle a lot in life. This photo reminds me that 1976 was quite a long time ago, everything was done manually… and it shows you where my passion for photography came from. 🙂 He developed numerous films and photos in improvised dark rooms, he loved slides and projectors, but somehow that passion of his faded away with age and the arrival of digital photography. I developed some films and photos manually myself and I remember that I loved doing it, maybe some day I’ll show you some of that black and white work.

There were many different August 16ths – many of them were spent at the seaside, some of them abroad – once in the USA, several times in Italy. Those were all quite lonely birthdays because it’s vacation time in Serbia and the famous Ferragosto week in Italy when people run away from deserted cities and towns to enjoy their holidays to the fullest. I didn’t always have a cake, but it was always a special summer day, special because I lived it in my head as such. Tomorrow will be another “specially” modest day – there were years when I thought I had to do something extra particular on that day or make some extra efforts, but in reality, I just want to relax. I want it to be a calm, good day. I didn’t manage to make a huge progress with my battles yet, but this is the first birthday I spend blogging. I hope there are many more years ahead, so maybe, just maybe next year I’ll be able to tell you that I’m in some much better place… 🙂
Till then, I can just promise that I’ll continue to fight, with my fists tightly closed as I did in those first months of my life.

And now… something entirely different! :)

red butterfly

I know that I still have to finish that indoor photo blog of different plants, but I couldn’t wait to share with you some news. What news? Well… the camera went out! Yep, you heard well! 🙂 If someone’s here for the first time, they’ll surely wonder what can be so special about camera going out, cameras normally serve to be taken around and capture special moments… well, in my case, camera didn’t go out for years, so this is a major event. It’s not that it exactly hit the road on a wild tour, it just walked with me around the building several days ago, but it’s still a huge step. And we were lucky enough to be greeted by a fearless butterfly, proudly posing for our first outdoor photo! I couldn’t have asked for more… 🙂

We also had a very funny encounter with an elderly lady who arrived from the bus station and found me standing in deep grass, staring at something on the ground. I had already made a photo of the butterfly, but I wanted to make another one just in case… and he decided to tease me a little bit, closing his pretty wings on me, so I was waiting for them to open again. The lady approached me and said – Hey you, kid (I look quite younger than my age but I am rarely among people, so whenever this happens it reminds me of that funny age-look dissonance) what are you doing in that deep grass?? Ticks are dangerous… do you know what a tick is? :)) I almost started laughing like a madman, but I somehow refrained myself – I could have made her a long speech on Lyme disease and available treatments, percentage of infected ticks etc. and there she was, asking me if I know what a tick was! Maybe it would be better for my nerves if I actually didn’t know any of what I do, but I’m a very well informed hypochondriac among other things. So I just replied – yes I know what they are, no worries. And she objected again – But they are dangerous, get out of that grass! I repeated – It’s really ok, this grass is hit by totally boiling sun, and anyhow it’s not their season, but thank you anyway… That’s how we closed the tick subject, but she still wanted to know what I was doing in the grass :)) – when the butterfly suddenly opened his wings again! I grabbed the bag and took the camera out hastily, which scared the lady as she jumped away, and then started laughing… Oh you just want to take a grass photo… :)) (she failed to see the butterfly). Then she wandered happily away down the forest convinced that I am both tick safe and sane, and me and the butterfly completed our little shooting session.

wild flowers

I continued my walk making a circle around the building and taking some more photos of wild flowers – if you asked anybody round here about them, they would just shrug and say – those are flowers?? Just plain wild grass growing everywhere, they’d better mow it soon… yet look how beautiful they are! Sometimes I think that our neighborhood is not particularly nice, apart from having a lot of green areas. Photos like this make me change my mind. 🙂

white butterfly on wild flowers

Here I closed the full circle around the block, found another butterfly to my pure astonishment and ran into the lady again, because she went slowly the other way through the forest. She looked at me as if she never saw me before and said – Hello there, how are you today? 😀 That was such a perfect “Twighlight zone” effect, as I was wondering who’s crazy, me or her, but I decided not to contemplate too much on it. I just replied – Very well thank you, how are you? – to which she responded – I’m fine, too. See you tomorrow! Tomorrow?? Where? And who was she in the first place? Maybe I should better stick to indoor photography… 😀

There are more wild flower photos, I’ll post them soon – hope you’ll enjoy them!

Moss rose – Mediterranean variety

moss rose

moss rose

For quite a while I thought that every moss rose story inevitably faded away with last leaves that fall off the trees in autumn. Three years ago I was offered a hanging variety, it lasts really long, the woman said. I am always for experiments when it comes to flowers so I was more than willing to give it a try, not knowing what to expect. I was positively surprised by these cute, small needle like pink petals opening everywhere along their green cascading branches, but I made a mistake of pulling them out of the earth when they seemed withered for good with the arrival of winter. Last year I was very happy to see them again at the market, noticing however that they cost a lot more than the normal variety. They were sold by one quite interesting fellow who spoke Serbian with strong Russian accent – he explained that these are called Mediterranean moss roses, that they always have this same color and most importantly, that they are – perennials, meaning that they typically last for more than one year! Mediterranean climate in winter is way milder that our continental one, but still the Russian said if I covered the withered sprouts and roots with leaves and if the temperatures didn’t fall too low, the plants should survive. I did as I was told, and this year’s spring invigorated them to grow triple in size in comparison to how they looked last year. Hopefully, they will be here to cheer up the atmosphere the next year as well. 🙂

Shooting these photos was quite challenging, as they hang in cascades over the balcony’s box and I live on the second floor 😀 I could have dived down right onto my head, but fortunately I both survived and got some decent shots! 😀 Can you believe that I don’t have prominent fear of heights? I know, seems incredible even to me, but certain phobias simply had to miss me somehow. 🙂 Happy day everybody!

Moss rose

moss rose

My flower balcony 7 days photo blog diary stopped at day 4 – it took me quite a while to get back on the track, but I decided not to give up, especially because my geranium posts got a lot of likes. 🙂

Day 5 was supposed to be dedicated to moss roses which is really interesting English name by the way – in Serbian we call it PRKOS, challenging word for translation… something like innate willingness to oppose especially to hardships, stand for yourself, do something in spite of circumstances that don’t work for you. We are well know round here to do things in the best possible way especially when somebody or something blocks us or prevents us from doing something, so I think this is a perfect plant for me to continue this flower story. 🙂 If my computer had died irreversibly, these pictures would have disappeared… but here they are, against many if not all odds.

My southern balcony is usually horribly warm, hit by the strongest noon sunshine, so plants struggle to survive – one of the plants that has absolutely no problem with this terribly warm sunshine is moss rose, which is why I used to plant a lot of them over there in the past years. They come in many different bright color varieties and I am really sorry now that I didn’t take pictures for quite a long time, but anyhow the point is that normally a moss rose flower is uniform in color – pink, red, yellow, white… To my astonishment, this little plant unfolded its flower and I was really amazed to discover – multicolor petals! I don’t think that there was some special manipulation here as I paid a normal, very low price per that small plastic container, it was perhaps just nature that had some fun mixing orange, pink and yellow seeds to come up with this unique solution. 🙂

These flowers open up only if hit by bright sunshine, and one flower lasts typically just one day, then another one opens up. They are sturdy and strong, real warriors – that was how they earned their name in my language. The plant lasts one year, which means that with the arrival of a new spring they have to be cultivated again from seeds or bought as already developed seedlings.

Tomatoes gone wild :)

tomatoes

tomatoes

I was about to continue with that unfortunately interrupted photo blogging diary when I got distracted by my father’s crazy tomatoes 🙂 – I don’t know if it were the seedlings, this year’s abnormally high humidity due to constant heavy rains or some third factor, but tomatoes grew out of every proportion, some of them weigh even close to a kilo. 😀

Our vegetable garden is organic, tomatoes weren’t treated with chemicals or any sort of heavy fertilizers, but anyhow they overcame our wildest expectations. 🙂 Apart from the size, they are very tasty as well, sweet and full of flavor, it’s a real pleasure to enjoy summer salads this year – they can be eaten even without seasoning, just like when you eat an apple. When cut in half, they look like some very special gigantic yummy heart. 🙂

While naming these two photos, I recalled my old fascination with the name of this vegetable – in Serbian we call it PARADAJZ, which is pronounced almost the same as the English word paradise. I’m not sure if someone liked them that much that eating them felt like being in paradise, but these home grown specimens do have a heavenly taste. 🙂

Nothing ever stays the same

I’ve had a PC in my home for exactly 14 years. It was the summer of 2000 when I more than willingly traded my usual summertime trip to the seaside for a big plastic box full of metal, strange boards and interesting wires, something my parents couldn’t understand at all. I had already had some computer knowledge of course, if you take into consideration that I absolutely adored my little ZX Spectrum and loved playing on my cousin’s Commodore, moving on to TIM computers of domestic production installed at my mom’s office and connected to a server that took a whole room to function, requiring carefully maintained dust-free environment. After that, a whole new world opened in front of me when I could use those very first 286 and 386 computers bought exclusively for my high school, which was followed by a certain digital delay in my life due to horrible economic sanctions my country had to endure in 1990s, but I still used computers wherever I could – in libraries, offices, internet cafes… until that day when I finally got hold on my first very own, precious and perfect little desktop configuration. I felt like Golum in the Lord of the Rings, no question about it. 🙂 I remember how I personally chose each part of that configuration to be assembled and surprisingly enough, I did an excellent job. My father said that it was probably a totally useless expensive purchase as the “thing”, screen included, would probably serve just to gather dust in my room as I would grow out of it in no time. To his complete astonishment, there wasn’t a single day without that box any more and he couldn’t understand what happened, nor he has ever understood it to this very day. He simply hates computers and can hardly realize how many different areas of human life they essentially deal with in today’s world. Nevertheless, I was and still am very grateful to him for that first configuration that now lives only in my memory, apart from its box case which is the only thing I preserved from those distant and much happier days.

My peaceful digital days abruptly ended with one unusual power outage a couple of years later. Even though the computer wasn’t turned on at that moment, it was still plugged in and when the power came back, something simply “popped” out loud in quite a disturbing way. The power surge was much stronger than allowed and my shock was indeed tremendous, I just sat on the floor and stared for a long time at the box that wouldn’t turn on any more. My warranty had expired and the store where I had bought it didn’t exist any more, so I didn’t know what to do. I desperately wanted my programs and my data back, and the solution arrived as usual from my mother – sometimes I do wonder what would have become of me if it wasn’t for her in my life. I distantly recall that she knew somebody important from the IT sector in our Telecom, so we took the box with us to that at the time big and fancy Telecom building to be “cured”. We sat in a separate room drinking some juice and waiting for the “verdict”. It’s just power supply, we’ll fix it in no time, no worries. Wonderful, I sighed with relief. The box was supposed to arrive back to the room where we sat in any minute and we could go home. Instead, there was this guy who fearfully appeared at the door, rambling something about my desktop icons that for some strange reason got enlarged 10-fold and couldn’t be opened any more, all this after 15-20 minutes of completely normal work. He was hushed up by another guy who confirmed that the problem was very serious, but avoided any discussion on who or what caused the problem. Judging from their faces, it was them who did something, but didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t push things any further, the damage was done and there was no way back. The second guy said that there was this man – and he wrote his name and address on a piece of paper – who could help with such a problem. I will never forget what he said – if there is anybody in this town who can fix it and preserve your data, it’s him. I was skeptical about the whole thing, but I simply had to give it a try. It was just a piece of paper, but it made an enormous difference.

That was how I met my PC handyman and his family, which changed my digital life for the better in million ways. He sat with that computer for 3 straight days and nights and simply didn’t let it die. Everybody else would have given up much sooner, but he was persistent to some incredible point, which is one of his traits that I admire with astonishment to this very day. He saved all my data, refreshed my configuration, supplied me with surge arrest power cords and UPS, all at really modest costs. This humble and modest man would have made a fortune in a different country with his IT knowledge, yet he struggled and still struggles to secure a decent living for his family because of his decision to remain in Serbia. We met on several more occasions, either to upgrade the system or the configuration because there were times in my life when I foolishly aspired to become a successful graphic designer and wanted the best computer I could afford, or simply because of some minor conflicts I couldn’t solve on my own. We stayed in touch and exchanged all sorts of season’s greetings for quite some time, but eventually this ended just like everything else ended in my life, it vanished in the darkness and silence with the arrival of the worst PD episode I experienced so far. I remotely remember that I needed some sort of his assistance at some point less than 5 years ago, but it was my parents who took the box the box to him and brought it back as I couldn’t go anywhere. And that was it.

The box worked, slower and slower as the time passed, but it never failed on me, till that previously mentioned “the end of the world” that occurred 2 weeks ago. I should have known better and I should have worked on preventing that thing from happening, but I simply got lost in the vicious circles dominated by my own demons, that I failed to see the reality around me. When I was rightfully punished for yet another neglected job in my life, one more time I simply didn’t know what to do. I was all caught up in my photo-blogging routine and now all of a sudden I was facing this system32 fatal error… all I could think of was the true realm of data that system used to control and how indeed fatal such loss could be in many ways.

Surprisingly enough, I forced myself to visualize the worst case scenario and I didn’t fall apart. I did cry a bit when I was alone, but not for a long time. I felt some numb acceptance of my fate, convinced that if something should have vanished from my life, it was good that it should be only that box. I couldn’t recognize myself, that’s not how I would have normally reacted to a digital disaster in previous years. I still can’t name exactly what changed me in the course of these last several years, but I know for sure that it must be a combination of things.

I’ve dealt with so many vital losses in my life so far that I think that this trained me how to behave in case of another one. So many things in life are about practice, I don’t see why it should be any different when dealing with a loss – the more you practice surviving it, the better you get at it. Apart from losing entirely my freedom, all my friends, boyfriend, any possibility of having a family and children of my own some day, jobs, income, I also survived a cancer threat 2 years ago when my newly discovered thyroid nodule was eventually diagnosed as benign – such things make you reevaluate your whole life and reset you system of values, making you form totally new priorities. My nodule was and maybe still is benign, but it’s still in my neck. It can always turn malign for some reason as long as it’s there, and that’s something I’m aware of every single day. My parents are both in their seventies and I deeply fear being left completely alone in this world, being the way I am. I take care of two precious dogs and I know that in spite of whatever I do, something can happen to them which would be indeed a devastating blow, because I have no friends or children, they are like two babies who apart from my parents are the only beings that greet me with sheer happiness every single day. I went through some very deep PD pits and climbed some small way back up, but it can surely worsen just about any time – once before I made the error of thinking that I had seen the worst of PD and that it surely couldn’t get any worse, but I was brutally shown that oh yes it could get MUCH worse, so I’m quite aware that I must be thankful even for the moments when things are bad but at least without changes for worse. Or simply – maybe it was none of this that changed my attitude, maybe it’s simply time that passed, maturity I gained, life experience I collected… maybe it’s just depression resurfacing and I just don’t care any more… or maybe after all those horrific flood events I realized that I had no right to complain as I still have a bed where to sleep and a good ceiling above my head.

Taking all this into consideration, losing some “box” simply should have to fall off the list of life priorities for good. Yet, we’re not talking about just any box. This box still contained my precious data from as far back as that famous year 2000, it carried on its disks so many moments from my dear long gone and lost past, files that flash in my mind so many people, places and memories so dear to my heart which was an excellent reason for me not to erase them. There were tons of e-mails, tons of valuable business related data, tons of creative files I made while I attended the Academy of Arts, tons of photos, special songs, video clips, valuable manuals, language courses, translations, books, installed programs – killing it in an instant would definitely equal killing a 14 year old brain that gathered so many information and connections in its lifetime. OK, somebody will definitely say – oh stop the rant, weirdo – have you ever heard of the magic word BACKUP??? Yes I did, but up to a little while ago I didn’t have enough space to save so much information, I had two not very large flash discs and I burnt some DVDs, but that was hardly enough. I recently got a quite large external disc and wanted to start this massive backup, but things rarely turn out the way you planned, at least it’s that way in my life.

On the other hand, losing something for a mentally stable person is one thing, while such loss for somebody like me is something entirely different. If you’re healthy and well and have means, you’ll go on from the point of the loss and build yourself a life again. In my case, I’ll probably never be able to function the way I used to ever again and I have to live with it, but at least when took a look at my data I could have a sense of dignity, knowing that I could document with something tangible that I was not always the useless person I became due to my illness. I could open a file and motivate myself by saying – there, I made this – if I could do it back then, maybe I could try again. Fourteen years are quite a long time, there were so many people who left marks on my computer but are not present in my life any more – nevertheless, by just looking at those marks I could bring them back to my life in my memory, the same way as when you take a look at an old photo and travel back in time.

Among the last things but not the least by any means, that computer had on it my full size photos of things I published here, and those weren’t simply blog posts and nothing more. I took up my camera after a very long time, and it took a certain courage to do it and believe in myself. There were people here who liked my photos and inspired me to go on, making me believe that I was doing it well. I was building some creative meaning into my days after so much time and it was a step further up from the bottom of the pit I fell in. Taking that dignity away from me would be quite painful to say the least.

I was sitting on the floor once again, staring at the box. I needed badly my handyman again. To save my computer. To save my dignity and my nerves. To save that large portion of my lost life. To make everything the way it used to be. To make that familiar dolphin reappear on my desktop and convince me that everything stayed the same. To take away the tears and the pain. To restore the system, to restore hope. Hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel even just one more time before I die. To give me a second chance to motivate myself to give my life a meaning. To help me regain the illusion that I didn’t fall as low as I actually fell. People sometimes really have no idea what can be hiding behind simple “things”, just like they have no idea that PC handymen can sometimes heal human souls as well.

I had to find his phone number and his address again. It’s been almost 5 years. Where is he? Is he working? Is he well? How is his family? The words from the beginning of this story – if anybody can fix it in this town, it’s him – resonated in my head over and over again. I didn’t know what exactly to say to him if I found him after such a long time. Will he remember me? He lives way out of my comfort zone, and even though I’m doing better, that’s not something I can handle well. How will I do it? Who will help me? And… is there hope? His mobile phone rang and there was some weird operator’s automatic machine voice talking in some incomprehensible way till I got a word or two. He wasn’t available, but the phone was – in Greece, that much I figured out. Many Serbian people go to the Greek seaside during summer, nothing strange about it, I was convinced in my heart that it was just a vacation. His home phone was changed and I didn’t remember the address any more. I forced my brain till it came up with the street, but I couldn’t squeeze out the home number. Fortunately even just a street name was enough to locate him, and I dialed the phone number. A female voice informed me that he was on vacation in Greece and that he was coming back – the following day! I think that I shouted something like OH GREAT, leaving the girl totally puzzled. It must have been his daughter, but I was too anxious to realize that I didn’t even realize who I was talking with.

I left him two days to recover from the trip and time zone change, then I pulled together my anxious mind and dialed his number. Right there something happened, something that goes far beyond this whole situation, something perhaps small but immensely precious for me – I said who I was and he shouted – ohhhhhhhh it’s youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…… in such an incredibly happy way, as if he heard again from a long lost, but very dear old friend, it virtually brought tears to my eyes. It’s been literally ages that somebody was happy to hear me, let alone – that happy. And he said a strange thing, that he and his wife were talking about me a couple of days prior to leaving for Greece, wandering what had happened with me – telepathy? 🙂 He asked what computer I had now, and I said – the same as the last time you saw it. He replied – no way, no way, impossible… I would never believe that that PC was still alive, it outlived at least two times its own generation! He added that so many things had happened to him and his family since we spoke the last time and we agreed to meet at his place.

Deja vu continued, it was again me and my mom, one more time together, we put the box into a bag and dragged it to a taxi. The trip was more than unpleasant for me even though I was sedated for the occasion, but we made it. And there we were, in front of his building and images started coming back at full force – all the moments when we were there, what we did, how we did it… the building looked the same, the playground in front of it as well and it was comforting, as though I didn’t miss out that much of life in these last 7 years… but then the illusion inevitably vanished when I pressed his doorbell. There was that man, the face looked the same, but he gained a lot of weight, he smiled much more than he used to, he let me in and there was that room I remembered, only drastically changed. New, modern and stylish furniture, new TV set, new working point. “Waking up from a coma after a long time” effect started choking me again, then I saw his wife – at least she looks exactly the same, I thought with relief. We sat and started talking, and his wife confirmed that many things changed. Then she added in some automatic, seemingly careless and ironical way – among other things, we had cancer as well… I was like – wait, wait, what did you say?? Cancer, she repeated. Who had cancer? I did, she said. Breast cancer. What in the name… Yes, she added – I had the operation, radiations and chemotherapy, full pack. I took another better look at her and there was that face that I remember from before, not changed in any possible way, yet the woman went straight to hell and back again. Her mom died of stroke shortly after the end of her treatments. My handyman had bad issues as well with some huge blood vessels that burst somewhere in his respiratory tract which resulted in heavy bleedings which led to hospitalizations and all sorts of procedures. But I didn’t see any of that, I saw two positive and smiling beings, appearing strong and cheerful and really happy to see me and my mom again. I simply had to mention to my handyman that he seemed to me much more cheerful than I remember him, to which he said something that struck me deeply and still does – I am more cheerful, I have to be, I realized that life is very short.

I can’t define exactly how I felt after these words – humbled, ashamed, sad, angry with life, ready to pick up the box and dump it to trash outside…
Life indeed is very short, life is about us, people, about what we carry in our heads and souls and not about files on some discs that can vanish at any time. Suddenly it all lost weight and meaning, and I was just happy that we were all still sitting there, alive, talking, feeling more or less well at this moment in time. Me and my mom left the box at his place and wandered away in the night, burdened with many thoughts and questions without answers, yet I was for some reason convinced that it would all be well. I had a panic attack on the way back home because I wanted to be “brave” and use the public transport, I had to get off the bus and get back onto another one, but that was by far the furthest I went somewhere with the bus in the last 7 years, especially at night.

If somebody can fix it, he can…

It took him two days at his place and at work and another day at my place, it took us several additional phone calls during which he instructed me what to do, but we did it. Files are alive and kicking, Windows was repaired without re-installation which means that all my programs are still here, the dolphin is looking at me from the background… but most importantly, I got another huge lesson in life priorities. It makes me think again that everything happens with a reason, maybe that digital disaster was necessary because I had to realize something important and be pushed to the limits to see how much I can do.

I don’t think that my handyman will ever realize how much all this meant to me and how much he has helped me in all these years that we’ve known each other. I thank him and thank him and keep saying that he did a lot for me, but the story is way much deeper that he’ll even imagine. The only point is that as long as we’re all alive, computers will live as well, in one way or another. If we’re no longer here, the box will be nothing more than that mass of metal, boards and wires from the beginning of this story, useless object somebody will dump to trash without thinking twice about it. I don’t blame that person who will come after me and do it, life indeed is short and he or she will never have time or interest to go through all the bits and pieces my life consisted of, his or her time will inevitably come as well.

I got a second chance to go through my data and travel back in time with my programs, and even if it doesn’t last, I will at least hopefully have some more time at my disposal to come to better terms with those days behind me, which account for almost half of my entire life so far.

Agoraphobics hate leaving their comfort zone, but they loath change even more. However, no matter how much you try to run away from change, no matter how long your life remains frozen in time, that big life out there still goes on with or without you, it simply doesn’t care. And nothing ever stays the same. So take good care of precious people, beings and things in your life, because you never know how long you’ll have them by your side.