Personal Been 2(00)1

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

2001: The worst year of my life.

The first few months were pretty uneventful.  I even turned 21 that April in a really subdued fashion: dinner out with an old friend and my girlfriend.  By June / July, things had been quietly obvious that my relationship was on the rocks.  My girlfriend had come with my parents and me to a distant relatives' party in Vermont for a weekend, and it was becoming clear.  But the worst part of that trip was getting a call on the drive home that my grandmother, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's for a few years, had had a stroke.

For a month or so over the summer, family came and went to Long Island as grandma lay in the hospital.  One Saturday night in mid-August, a couple of friends and I got together at one of their houses.  When the night was over, as I left my friends house in the dark, I hit a dog with my car.  Thankfully, I was still in the residential area so I was only going about 20 mph and somehow, this stupid little poodle - who, we would come to find out, could barely see or hear and had escaped from a house party - got away with a tap on the head and avoided everything but the bumper.  She was dazed but okay.  The drunken son of the homeowner throwing the party was fine about everything, and we all moved on with our evening.  Overall, not a huge deal, but it shook me up pretty good, and set the tone for the next few weeks.

The next night, after a day of general family socialization and some degradation with grandma's situation, I spoke with my girlfriend on the phone.  I remember this distinctly: I spoke for 45 minutes, explaining about the dog, grandma, and life in general.  And then the first words out of her mouth were, "we need to talk".  10 minutes later, after almost 3 years, we were done.  It was seriously the most typical 'young and naive' relationship stereotype there could be.  It was fun while it lasted, even if it could never have worked forever (and it couldn't have).  But it happened, and it sucked hard.

And then grandma died not long after - maybe two weeks or so - after a second stroke.  With long and seriously degenerative Alzheimer's victims, death is definitely a confusing thing.  It was a very drawn out and very emotionally exhausting experience that summer, and I didn't feel the emotional brunt nearly as much as the rest of my family.  But still, strike three.

Not long after, it was time to get back to college for senior year.  I had actually started the year pretty excited, despite the heartbreak.  I had resolved to live it up (within reason) and I had the wherewithal to do it.  (Despite being an introvert, when really motivated, I can actually be very social.)

In the first week of September, my dad came up to visit and told me he and my mom were getting a divorce.  I'm not going to go into any detail here, but clearly, this, too, was less than awesome.  Strike four?

And then a few days later, as I leisurely awoke on the morning of the 11th, I turned on the TV and watched the twin towers get hit by planes and collapse.  Strike five.

(Spoiler: everything in my life gets better from that point on, hopefully forever.)

So for no less than five reasons, by September 12th, despite the massive fears stemming from the terrorist attacks, I was really resolved.  The remaining months of 2001 definitely had their difficulties, but I can honestly say I was happy and doing well.  I developed - for the first time ever - a solid care-free outlook.  Not in an irresponsible way.  But like many people post-9/11, life was definitely in perspective.

I even sort-of-dated a majorly unobtainable tall blond Swedish girl, a friend of a friend.  Not to sound pompous or cheapen the experience, but it was a great fling (cut short by her studying abroad the following spring semester) and an amazing confidence booster for me, especially as my sickeningly handsome Norwegian friend - who struck out with her many times - stared at me slack-jawed when I told him we were together.

Good times.  (Finally.)


Eric Tabone is Operations Manager at the digital strategy consultancy, Undercurrent. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his awesome wife and two kick-ass cats.

All original opinions and commentary throughout this blog (comments excluded) are Eric's alone, and do not necessarily represent Undercurrent in any way.


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