Living in the city has made me weak.
I spent the last week-and-a-bit living in the family home out in the suburbs to make sure the place didn't fall into disrepair while my parents were away on holiday in Australia. That included doing things like: watering the plants so they maintained the colour of chlorophyll rather than the colour of the sun, and keeping my brother company so he wouldn't do things like scroll large prophetic and doom-impending messages on the walls with his own faeces.
So 2 weekends ago I brought a bunch of my stuff over there so I wouldn't die of boredom, and in that first day I was subject to the first of several things that I have not missed since moving into the city: hay fever.
I've had hay fever since I was 8 (may have been 7 at the time, you know how all those long-ago memories start to merge and mingle), and I remember the visit to the doctor then and being told that there wasn't anything I could take for it. That itself was a shock to me because every other time I went to the doctor a visit to the pharmacist always came afterwards. The doctor's advice: I might grow out of it.
Almost 20 years later, I can say with absolute certainty that I didn't grow out of it.
There was a time when I thought the hay fever would leave me, and that was during my late teens when I was getting used to, of all things, cigarette smoke.
No I don't smoke, but around the same time I was diagnosed with hay fever, I also learned that if I spent too long around smokers (my parents did have some friends who smoked, and of course they'd take my brother and I over with them and then get all of us kids to mingle, ie: leave them alone, while they hang-out, and over the years some of my friends did pick up the habit), I would spend the next 48 hours vomiting. This was proved time and time again, and followed me well into high school. Towards the final days of secondary education, I remember being at a party and talking with people outside, some of whom smoked. I was dreading the thought of having to find that vomit bucket and get it ready for when I woke up the next day after inhaling all this cigarette smoke, but when the next day came and my urge to throw-up was well below my urge to punch a kitten in the face, I had genuine hopes for losing other long-lasting afflictions, like my hay fever.
I find it odd that I got more used to cigarette smoke, which will likely kill me, than I did to pollen, which won't kill me but just make me miserable for a few weeks in a year. I often took antihistamines to combat the symptoms (and have a certain former-pharmacy friend to thank for telling me about the cheaper-yet-just-as-good-as-the-brand-stuff antihistamines), but since living in the city I haven't really needed to take them since the ratio of things that produce pollen versus things that don't is very much in the favour of hay fever sufferers like myself.
So when I got back to the family home and went out into the backyard to look over my dad's garden (he's got a few of my basil plants growing there now and I wanted to see how they were doing), I triggered the hay fever bomb and spent the rest of the day blowing my nose into tissue paper that was 1-ply too thin to contain the force of snot as it sped out of my head.
Thus began my week of house sitting.