Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: When crises are a Christmas tradition

At the risk of sounding repetitive, my family is in the middle of a new crisis, although this one could not have come along at a better time.

My friends and I have a running joke about the gratitude I feel when I dial my family on holidays and the call goes straight to voicemail. On Christmas evening, there was no voicemail and no jokes – just dual emergencies, forcefully attacking the holiday spirit in a way that’s almost our family tradition.

While my mother and sister were worried about a possible kidnapping in Chicago (yeah, how ’bout that?), my most immediate concern was the DEFCON 1 situation that had arisen with my two oldest nephews who moved to Atlanta. It’s hard to develop financial discipline when you’ve never had finances, and when you’re young and want to spend the (very little) money you now have on trivial things that numb the shock of adulthood.

For several months they had been in a dispute with their leasing company, in which they may have well been in the right, but nonetheless culminated with them facing eviction within hours of my call home on Christmas. I was obviously disappointed with their predicament, particularly their failure to plan for an eviction they knew was imminent, but, to their credit, it had taken them almost a year to reach the crisis at which I had given them four months to arrive.

As unnerving as my call to my mother was, it filled me with a consuming peace that is difficult to attain in my daily life. I was built for turbulence.

“One must imagine Sisyphus happy!” is the conclusion of Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus, which is the inspiration for my neck tattoo, and suggests that there is as much fulfillment in the struggle as there is in reaching the hilltop. The boulder always rolls back down; whenever we think we’ve got the world in order, new challenges arise, and it’s time to push anew.

I cannot watch my nephews’ experiment with life away from the South Side of Chicago end yet, not for mistakes that millions of young adults with greater familiarity and access to money have made. And so I brace myself for more pushing, by way of finding a 3-bedroom apartment to move into with my two nephews, their girlfriends, one of the couple’s infant daughter, and my 7-year-old nephew, who returns this week after spending Christmas break in Chicago.

Thanks, Santa!

After viewing my first apartment this past Thursday, I arranged a hook-up with a guy I had been chatting with for a while and who was in town for New Year’s Eve (I figure it’s best to fuck as much as I can before my new living arrangement neuters my sex life). What felt like a fairly routine session was interrupted by my downstairs neighbor using something to bang on the ceiling/my floor, indicating he or she was hearing too much of my sexual encounter.

I felt like an awful neighbor, as the complaint was something I worried about for the four years I’ve lived at this complex, which is predominated by straight people who give no indication of having sex. But I was also profoundly confused: of the, um, dozens of hook-ups I’ve had over the years, you go berserk about the one that’s occurring at 6 p.m. on a Thursday leading into a holiday weekend?

Out of courtesy, my hook-up and I moved from my bedroom to the living room, and I told him not to worry since I was moving in a few days anyway.