At dinner one new year’s eve, my father told us that one day it wouldn’t be 19 anything; it would be 2000. And when it was the year 2000, he said, he would be 67. He laughed, as if that were something he didn’t believe possible. Then he went around the table and asked each of us how old we would be in 2000, a year that sounded like it might be the one the Jetsons lived in. I would be 43, I said, which would be older than my father was then. We laughed a lot that night at the dining room table at the absurdity of the future.
2000: Y2k dawns without any of the predicted drama, the holidays spitting me into January and the new millennium a limp noodle. As a gift to myself, I head to Canyon Ranch to get a good start on the year. This time I go to Tucson, and as much as I love Lenox, Tucson has more to offer and seems more alive. And the desert is new to me. Driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a tumbleweed actually rolls across the highway in front of me. The story I workshopped with Elizabeth McCracken is turning into a novel. I’ve read lots of novels, and mostly that’s all I know about writing one. The doctor says I need a hysterectomy. I get one. Two weeks after the procedure, as I’m packing the boys for camp, I have a pain that becomes more and more intense. By the next morning I tell Cal I need to go to the emergency room. They give me a shot of something and send me home. A few hours later I’m back and they admit me. I miss Kathleen’s debut–yes, they still do this in the south. I’m in the hospital for three days, longer than for the hysterectomy. They pump me full of antibiotics and laxatives, but say they have no idea what caused the pain. Cal takes the boys to camp, and my parents bring me home from the hospital, my father joking that this is the second time they’ve done this. I spend the rest of the summer eating comfort food, and I don’t even like ice cream. In October we make our second visit to Kathleen in Oxford–tailgating in the Grove and watching Eli Manning on the field. I make banana muffins and pimento cheese, and Cal makes ham biscuits. In December, the Supreme Court rules to end the recount in Florida, making George W. Bush the winner over Al Gore. 60 books this year–with the highlights being Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, John Casey’s The Half-Life of Happiness and James Salter’s Light Years. Faith Hill sings Breathe, but I don’t think I do.