Friday, April 24, 2009

at the point of magical realism

My Nurse Practitioner placed both of her hands on either side of my neck and rubbed my raw swollen lymph nodes and I felt tears well up because I am a big fat baby. The feeling of Tara's hands near my face made me feel close to her. She's seen me at my worst in this office. She's seen me bleeding and muddy and awful. I let the tears slide down my face and opened my mouth to let a tiny hiccup escape. I felt vulnerable. Everything felt vulnerable, tender and raw.

"Oh, pumpkin," she said and handed me a tissue.

I blew my nose and Tara hesitated before she asked to look at it.

"I know," she said. "It's weird. But can I see?"

She opened the tissue and we both peered over the green specimen that had just been launched from my being onto kleenex.

"You and the bronchial infections."

"It's not my fault," I replied. "I don't know why this happens."

"Do you still have the inhaler from last time?"

"No. I tossed it. It gave me heart palpitations."

"That's right. That was back in..."

"January," I answered.

"That's right," she said as she threw the tissue into the trash. "January."

She took a tongue depressor and peered into my mouth.

"Man, freakin' double whammy here. You definitely have strep as well."

I nodded in sad acknowledgment.

"January," she repeated like she was trying to remember something.

"The last time I was here my boyfriend dumped me and I asked if you could just vacuume out my whole chest cavity because I didn't need anything in there anymore."

"Oh my god. That's right."

"And I had put on the paper robe even though i didn't need to because it wasn't a gyno visit, but I was confused."

"Poor thing."

"We're not friends anymore," I said and saying it out loud made it finally feel real. "The ex and I."

"Yeah, I couldn't imagine," she replied. "Too much."

"Yeah," I said and looked down at my hands in my lap, both of them laying open like Dhyana Mudra, how they face up in meditation.

"We'll get you antibiotics for the strep and bronchial infection but I still can't have your heart vacuumed out."

"That's ok " I answered. "I'd like to keep it. It's doing pretty good despite these things."

I made my way downtown to pick up my prescription. It amazed me that when you're knee deep in the trenches of something awful you forget what feeling normal is like. I had spent so much time sweating and shaking that I couldn't fathom anymore what it was like not being sick. What was only 2 days had felt like a lifetime of misery. I had spent so much time in January convincing myself that life as I knew it would never be the same and decided it would be safer to take up ice climbing then get involved in another relationship.

I'd rather die doing this.

Time is such a strange thing, moving fast and slow in all the wrong places. I need to remind myself that no one state of being is ever truly permanent and that all the times I've broken, I've mended pretty well. I've surrounded myself with good people who take care of me when I can't take care of myself.

For as long as I can remember I've been a pretty insular person. It just seemed easier to do things on my own, but there are times when you can't and it's good to recognize that you don't have to face everything alone. Despite my fear of getting Sue, Liz, Josh & Eric sick, they came over last night, fed me tofu and ice cream and made me laugh. It felt good to have them close.

After picking up my antibiotics I took the 21 home and let transportation narcolepsy take over. There is no use fighting sleep on moving vehicles, I am useless under its power. I dreamt that Jeff and I were following a set of train tracks somewhere. It was one of those sunny yet blustery SF days and the wind kept picking my skirt up behind me and he would casually reach back to pull it back down. I would say thank you every time. The tracks eventually led us to the mouth of a tunnel and we paused to contemplate if we should keep going.

"I think this leads to West Portal," I said.

"I think this is like the yoga studio you think is on 19th but it's really on 20th."

"I'm a bad guesser."

Jeff let go of my hand and looked up at the sky, slowly turned and turned, till he had come full circle and looked back down at me.

"Did that help?" I asked.

"Nope," he answered. "I have no idea where we are but I wanted to look like I was trying."

"So do we go in?"

We both stared into the entrance, only a few feet of tracks and gravel visible.

"Why not?" he answered and took my hand back into his and we walked into darkness.

"If we die I can't leave you anything in my will," I announced. We could no longer see each other or anything else for that matter.

"Why's that?"

"Because you'll be dead too."

"That sucks."

"Yeah, so please don't let go."

"I won't."

I woke up being kicked in the shins by a little chinese boy who wanted out of the window seat so he could get off the bus. I checked my chin for drool and slid out of the way so he could escape.

How I manage to not sleep past my stop is like magic. Like most things.

photo courtesy of Setch

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