Sunday, January 04, 2009

Odd Numbered Years

It’s now the first week in the new year, January, 2009 and I’m about to go through something that happens every other year. As each new odd-numbered year comes into existence, it takes me longer to adjust to writing that new year, than when it’s a new even-numbered year. I’ve been aware of this situation (might it be a syndrome?) for a long time, back perhaps to my late teenage years. At this point it’s occurred to me that my behavior is a response to the belief that this is what happens to me, more than that it actually would happen on its own. I fear that I’ve set the wheels in motion for this minor numerical error by pointing out in advance that it’s what happens every time an odd-numbered year rolls into town.

I encounter my error mostly when writing a check. I write a lot of checks. Continuously numbered since I opened the account nearly twenty years ago, it’s up to over fourteen thousand now. (One place I was making a purchase had an automatic reading register that didn’t recognize a five-digit check number.) It’s the check writing that sets up the scenario for my mistake. But now this year, I’m even putting thoughts about this into writing and that’s tipping me back away from the error, and I’ve been writing 2009 consistently.

What I’ll miss about 2008 is the confluence of mathematics. It was the year that I turned 54, the same as the last two digits of the year I was born, 1954. In 2009 no one becomes the same age as the year they were born, as it’s always an even number (since it’s their birth year, multiplied by two). 2008 was also the year Norabelle turned 21. Reversing the numbers in each of our ages takes us both back to the same year, nine years ago, when I was 45 and she was 12. I pointed that out to her and asked how to figure out that out as a math problem. She proceeded to do so, making an “x” variable and writing it all out on a piece of scrap paper while we were at a party at a friend’s house near Boston over the holidays. I was trying hard to follow what she did, but between the holiday cheer and the mix of pride and amazement at witnessing her do this, I retained nothing but my question. And the little worksheet paper was lost.