The item pictured to the left is a portable oxygen tank.
It is my friend. It is my constant companion now when I am out. It is the bane of my existence and the reason for same.
It is no different than millions of others that are needed by millions of people. It may not always look like this. It may be a brace, a wheelchair, a replacement limb, or hundreds of other assist devices.
But this is mine, and it is personal, and it carries my expectations.
Expectations are a funny thing. They can be realistic, yet what defines realistic? Is being “realistic” simply staying within safe parameters? Does having unrealistic expectations mean that they cannot be achieved, or that you simply are afraid to try.
When I joined Twitter(and Facebook), I had varying expectations. I wanted Twitter to allow me to connect with others who might find me interesting enough to think to hire me. I wanted to keep in some sort of contact with my past acquaintances and industry , to try to find a way back into my home for 27 years. I wanted to experience others and to possibly learn.
However, my expectations at the beginning kept me guarded as to who I really was and overly worried about how who I was would be perceived. Those who knew me recognized me, but those who didn’t were approached cautiously.
Essentially I tried to become visible, yet remain anonymous. I expected the same from others. My expectations were sorely misjudged. I have found that those who I meet on Twitter and Facebook have been some of the most supportive, fun, and caring people yet.
Yet, while I have my expectations, they have theirs, and sometimes, they collide. I follow a lot of sports bloggers, and my expectations of them were of a fun brotherhood with a shared passion. Instead, I found great writers who sometimes seem to expect to be seen as the “go-to” source. I’ve also seen this degenerate into mean spiritedness and denigration of blogger by blogger, blogger by sportswriter, sportswriter by blogger, et al.
My expectations for one big happy family of sports lovers had to be modified into individual expectations of each writer.
The same goes for my expectations of the rest of my friends on there, and wonderfully, I can say that I’ve developed a very entertaining and comfortable set of friends on there. Some have become very close to me over the last year.
Back to my oxygen tank. I expect we will be inseparable for a long time, at least while outside. I have no idea what to expect about my condition going forward. I choose to set my expectations so that I will always strive to maximize my limits and that I will remain useful and vibrant, even without being able to do work like I used to.
However, I expect to always secretly hate the oxygen tank, if only because it always talks first. Just like a silly hat, people notice it before almost anything else. That means my past method of introducing myself, with a handshake or a “Hello, how are you?” has been compromised by this thing in my nose and on my shoulder.
Even walking in public, it will draw glances, which I do not want. No, a child will not think I am an astronaut. They will ask mommy or daddy in a whisper what this is. It is unavoidable, and I don’t expect to ever shake that feeling.
However, my expectations in public, past that initial stare, is that you see me as you see anyone. Except for a true physical barrier, don’t treat me any different. Treat me as a friend, a customer, a neighbor, a seat mate, a person.
Yes, my life is vastly different now. Money is extremely tight, living costs means that I move into my sisters house, and some dreams and expectations of what I could have accomplished and where I could have traveled in the next ten years and beyond have to be greatly altered.
However, my expectation is that I will live that life to the fullest, surrounded my great friends , like many of you. And my family.
My final expectation is that on Wednesday, when I finally turn in the key to the apartment, and say good bye to over 7 years of memories with my Dad there, I will break down and bawl. I expect to finally feel the emptiness of the situation, the unavoidable nature that it has to end.
I will be a wreck.
However, my expectations are that life will go on, that I will eventually be comfortable in my new home, and that friends now will remain friends forever. And that what I shared with my Dad with be present in every one of you that I know.
That quarter pictured after this post is the last thing my Dad really worried about. He dropped it as he stumbled backwards and hit his head on Nov. 30, 2010. Even as the bump on his head grew, he attempted to reach down to pick it up. At that moment, that quarter meant the future to him.
It has remained right there since then. It will be the last item I take from the apartment.
I expect that it will always be with me, and that Dad will always make it more valuable than gold to me.