Noun. A period of ten years. A set, series, or group of ten.

Origin of decade: Middle English, from Middle French décade, from Late Latin decad-, decas, from Greek dekad-, dekas, from deka.

First Known Use: 15th century
My first real understanding of decade was my tenth birthday. It was only a shallow usage of decade since it wasn’t yet pluralized until my twentieth year. The third decade hurt quite a bit as I felt that youth was truly lost, but I greeted the fourth decade with renewed invigoration. I declared it the birth of my midlife crisis and the death of my misspent youth.

Decades stung again as I hit the mark of being out of high school not one, but two decades. Then it was college always a couple years behind. The second degree came a decade after the first and makes me feel just a little younger if I ignore the first stint. I finally marked a decade of work with the same company. Then two years later, marked a decade in the same department. The more things change, the more some things stay the same.

I didn’t quite make it to two decades of my life being spent in Maine as a child. I’ve surpassed the one decade mark here in California, but it will still be a while before I surpass my time in Maine and make it to two decades. After my childhood home, I moved around a lot. I’d spent so much time not going anywhere that I felt burdened by familiarity and thus constantly threw myself into disarray by upending my life and starting over multiple times.

This evening, as I looked around to make sure that everything was closed up and ready for bed, I had to sit down as I realized that in just a couple months I will come upon the 10th anniversary of living in my current location. I looked around the rooms and thought about the transitions that have happened over the last decade. The bathroom and kitchen remodels with kitchen cabinets that my grandmother and friends helped me paint. The carpet that was old when I moved in and that a whole decade more of me and the pets trampling on has not been kind. The summer I decided to paint the whole place myself. The time Fuckin’ Hipster and I turned off the breakers and replaced all the outlets under the glow of candle light. That it took me eight years before getting patio furniture. The series of furniture that has passed through my home. The Ikea furniture I got when I moved in that is miraculously still here. The friends and family who have eaten and laughed with me over that time.

So. Many. Memories.

Mostly wonderful. Some sad. I was definitely sad early on. I’d broken up with a wonderful guy. I felt guilt. Within two months, I had ear surgery to restore some of my hearing loss. It worked, but I was pretty dizzy for a few weeks. I didn’t really feel alone until a few months later when Meine Schwester moved away. I remember the pain of feeling physically isolated, although my pets were there. Mitsy would rub her head against me and give her condolences. Pablo looked at me with sorrow, though mostly wondering if I would continue to feed him. Perl has never really known what to do with emotion. Like owner, like pet. 

Now it is a decade later and all I can think is how did all that time pass with so little change? But as I reflect on it, most everything has changed. Not just my physical surroundings, but I no longer feel alone, although with Mitsy and Pablo both gone and Perl already a decade and a half old, I am dreading the sense of alone that is inevitable. The surgery I had on my ear a decade ago became useless three years ago, about the same time I learned about mortality and lost a dear friend. Some day those losses will be a decade of memories away.

And in a few more decades, I’ll reflect instead about how I keep track of time in scores now. 


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