Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Forest and the Clearing

I'm not out of the woods yet, but I can see the clearing from here.  I want to make the clearing.  The illness itself is not interesting to anyone, but the creatures of the forest you spend the days and nights fending off alone could be.  Not necessarily so, of course, but they could be.  

The funny thing is, you make all your deals, all your decisions about who you are, about your life, then, once the worst is over, slowly, step by step, inch by inch, you find yourself on the same path that led you into the woods in the first place.  

I look like shit.  Let's start there.  I looked like shit before, but now I look like shriveled shit, hollow-eyed, sunken cheeked, depleted body.  And so the first of the new resolutions gets challenged.  I woke this morning with only a slight pain in my lower left side, and I thought, "I need to get moving today. I'll take a long walk, try some push-ups. . . . ."  And then I remembered I just wanted to live in Boca del Vista, eat egg salad sandwiches, watch Good Morning America, and wear shirts from Target.  Give up the macho shit, in essence.  Be gentle with myself.  Give myself permission.  Pride and Vanity.  O.K.  Check.  

It doesn't help that I haven't seen my beautician for almost three months now.  She, planning for her delivery, scheduled me for a time after that, longer than usual.  O.K. But I had to cancel that when I got sick.  The other day, being alone and on my own, I had to drive myself to the grocery store to get supplies.  I was in the t-shirt I'd slept in and baggy Chinese pants, my hair long and greasy, the gray showing through at the roots.  Now this you will think is fiction, but I swear not. I had parked in the middle of the great lot, and walking back to my car, a man approached me.  

"Sir, can I speak to you for a second?"

He was all smiles, middle class looking, and he had a handful of small flyers.  I just looked at him with my tired, sickly eyes.  He handed me one of the flyers.  I didn't bother to look.  

"Recently, my wife and I have opened up our house to the homeless. . . ."

I cut him off.  

"I'll bet your neighbors are thrilled about that."

He looked stunned,

"I know I look homeless, but I'm not homeless yet."

He began to stammer, "No. . . I didn't mean you. . . I. . . I. . . ."

By then the engine was running.  I closed the door and left him stuttering alone.  I knew he didn't mean me, but I thought it a good way out.  If I hadn't been in the car, I would have looked like any greasy bum asking for a handout.  

Yesterday morning, I was feeling better, but somewhere along the line I had a relapse.  My energy just flagged.  I couldn't seem to move.  So I didn't.  It is amazing how long a person can simply sit and stare.  But that is just on the outside.  Inside, the horror show continues.  The only calories I consumed were from the small bottle of Ensure and a bottle of Gatorade.  I sat and stared until it was afternoon.  I called my mother to tell her I wouldn't be coming to see her again.  It was four.  I needed to eat, but the only things I have in the house are things I shouldn't eat, high fiber, healthy things.  In fact, I don't have much food in the house at all.  I have ingredients galore, but little actual food.  I looked in the cabinets.  What could I eat?  I decided to make tuna fish salad.  Surely a tuna fish sandwich would be o.k.  I got out the tuna,  The olive oil mayonnaise.  The. . . wait. . . no sweet relish.  Sure.  Of course.  O.K.  I'd use some honey.  I cut a piece of bread in half.  I made a sandwich.  Then I made another.  Good god, what else did I have to eat?  I made a cup of tea and sat on the deck.  It was Friday late afternoon.  No one walked by.  

When I went inside, I scoured the cabinets again.  I moved some things so I could see in back.  There!  I knew I had some!  Canned fruit.  I'd read I could eat canned fruits and vegetables.  I assumed that was because they had all the nutritional value cooked right out of them.  I had bought this stuff as hurricane food.  When?  Beat the hell out of me.  Years ago.  I spied a can of Mandarine Oranges Without Added Sugar.  Right on.  I opened the can and sniffed.  It smelled o.k.  I took a small slice in my mouth,  It tasted as it should, not metallic or otherwise funky.  I ate the first few bites slowly, gingerly.  And then in great mouthfuls.  It was a large can, and great god it was good.  Mandarins gone, I drank the juice.  

In a few minutes, my stomach and guts began to rumble.  There was, it seemed, nothing between my mouth and my butthole but a long, voided tube.  Empty for days.  My guts sounded like the symphony orchestra tuning up, piccolos, clarinets, trombones and tubas.  

I wanted more.  I thought about what I would eat in the morning.  

Earlier that day, I found I wasn't just alone in the house.  I was alone.  Maybe it was the solar storm.  Maybe messages couldn't get through.  I thought about sending my stupid comments and snippets to friends, but I remembered my vow to be non-political.  I was to stop all the "cleverness."  The only people you really hear from are the lonely people.  

I sat and listened to the noises coming from the refrigerator wondering if it was on its last legs.  

I composed essays in my head, things I would never write.  They were beautiful. 

More television.  My eyes have gone blurry for having watched to much of it this week.  Then, finally, bed.  I would take no pain pills, no nerve calmers.  I'd see how that went.  

I didn't sweat through my t-shirt last night, surely a good sign.  

I will work on my resolutions today.  I've been prone to all of the seven deadly sins.  I may have to keep sloth, though.  I think that one will be necessary.  Maybe I'll just work on see no evil, hear none, speak none.  And of course. . . pride and vainglory.  

That's a lot of work.  Now, however, I will make some Cream of Wheat.  Not the usual kind.  One cup milk, Cream of Wheat, and at the end, two eggs stirred in.  Holy smokes is that good.  Yes.  A good way to start the day.  

I just got a text from my friend in the midwest checking to see how I am.  She sent photos of last night's northern lights.  The internet is working.  It is nice to be thought of.  

1 comment:

  1. I sort of think being gentle with yourself is not really deciding to buy your shirts at Target - or play shuffleboard with Gus at Mara de La Vista -

    I have vivid memories of being at the Lake Hiawatha Country Club - watching the men play shuffleboard but more they played cards under the awing where you could get food. I remember waiting online for lunch - dripping wet bathingsuit standing barefoot in the cement. Having to wait 30 long minutes after eating to return to the Pool.

    And the tables of men. Playing cards and smoking cigars. Jewish neighborhood.The ladies played Mah jong.

    I think it means giving yourself permission to not do push ups after suffering horribly potentially from a tear issue - or even think such a silly thing. Have another can of fruit (i love drinking the juice) - maybe take in some sun on your naked body. Or as nearly as you can get in your walking neighborhood.

    Also. Why does your tag line say “you have to read the blog to know me”. And you always say this not you.

    I’m new here.