Airports.

I am somewhere between supine and upright on my couch where I have taken residence the entire week. My postcards read Greetings From the Couch! Most the movement taking place is in a continual rearrangement of pillows, positions and blankets in a futile effort to achieve positional comfort one way or another. No success yet. There must be an ergonomic texting/reading chair somewhere out there.

Outside it thunders, as it has every afternoon this week. It’s hinting at another storm, but has yet to produce rain. Monty is in mental disarray, gyrating off and on in these vibrational fits, all due to thunder. I’m still surprised he exhibits such outward fear this way, mostly due to the frequency of thunder in Louisiana–like fearing snow in Colorado. It’s instinct, apparently, that guides him to squeeze his awkward, girthy body into the narrowest nooks of his own making around the house, which right now is between the sofa and coffee table beneath my outstretched legs. When I go to the bathroom, he follows close behind and then wedges himself between the toilet and the wall. Another round of gyrating. Every time it cracks suddenly or it grumbles in that deep rocky tenor, he stares up at me suspiciously with visceral worry in the whites of his eyes. It’s like he’s saying “See, I told you” as though the sound of thunder was proof that it were dangerous. Maybe it is and we’re in harm ways;  I’m just too dense to know it.

My petting and reassuring him with extremely human explanations, my instinct, apparently, does nothing to quell his fear. A boyfriend once told me, as is distinctly male instinct, that it’s my own cushioning and coddling him in my high-pitched, soothing voice that makes him nervous because it communicates that there’s something to be nervous about. If you only acted normal, so would he. But I am beyond certain now that this is an incorrect hypothesis, not just because of the many instances of thunder and attached panic I’ve witnessed, but because once, a year or so ago, I came home from the grocery store in the middle of an aggressively loud storm. Unable to find Monty, I finally discovered him not only in the bathroom, but in the bathtub, quivering. This is still both one of the saddest and funniest discoveries I think I’ve ever made. Being righteous as I am I noted right away that this fear of his is no the result of my coddling, but from some primive instinct to get the hell under something, squeeze into a tiny space and quiver till it’s over. Interestingly enough, they say the bathtub is the safest spot to seek during a tornado etc. That’s what my mom says anyway, to which her husband cackles As if there’s a safe place to go during a tornado. 

I’m supposed to be on a 4:00 plane to Miami tomorrow. I’m visiting my Brother & Company for a week and then attending my best friends Miami Bachelorette Party at the week’s end through labor day, braving ourselves amid the Zika hysteria. I’m in no shape physically to travel right now, but I’m hoping and praying for some kind of divine help. For more than a week, I’ve been, what’s the phrase…Out of Service. Technical difficulties. Shit For Brains. The usual Crash buffet. I’ve rested pretty continuously, changing couch to chair one day, trying a different room the next, mixing it up as much as is possible right now. Among the physical shiftiness  I find myself really grateful that I have the time and space to actually rest. I always recall my last few months of working full-time, when I felt this way daily. The added angst of knowing that on top of being that sick I had to show up somewhere and be a functioning human being was enough for a nervous breakdown. Those were incredibly tough days, but I’m glad I had them. It swells my gratitude now that I don’t have to push through the pain, fake a smile, tell people I’m fine when I’m half certain I’m about to croak. It’s a gift that I don’t have to live like that now, and I try to stay aware of it. I know that traveling to Miami and sleeping somewhere that isn’t home is going to take a lot out of me, annoyingly, because I always prided myself on being a low-maintenance traveler. I’m still able to sleep almost anywhere and don’t require a lot of amenities, except water for pills and sometimes an emergency room. But I don’t think I qualify as low-mainenance anymore. And there’s a price to pay in leaving home now, and that’s just part of the deal. “Vacations” are not relaxing things really. They are usually a lot of fun, but they are always costly. It’s one of many things that, due to physical restraint, has become depressingly large– mundane things are no longer right-sized.  Laundry. Packing. Putting bags into smaller bags. Remembering. Prescription refills. Pharmacy lines. Doctor authorizations. Insurance Authorization. Pharmacy on-hold music. Monty’s sad face when I get out the suitcase. Lifting and carrying and dragging a portable box of crap on wheels around.The normal stuff everyone endures. When you think of all the steps you’ve gone through by the time you’re sitting on an airplane seat, it’s a lot! It’s the same except for the burden it will bear later. An ongoing debt you have to pay, for a bunch of crap you don’t even want! Hah. Am I done complaining yet? Maybe.

I’m thinking of one of the largest culprits of exertional consumption: Airports. Like Vegas, it’s a surprising amount of walking. Standing. Waiting. Discerning boarding announcments. Taking off and putting on shoes and jackets and giving the laptop its own bin and PLEASE MOVE OUT OF THE WAY MA’AM. It’s the meanest display of manners one will ever encounter. A harsh environment in many respects, the airport is like entering this fluorescently lit void where nothing is permanent and you’ll live a little while–but only as a stop on your way somewhere else. Not so different from the no-name town interstate exit you take on a road-trip at 3 am, strictly to use the bathroom and gas the car. It’s a blurred cross-section of time zones cultures and classes that feels like one wavelength just outside reality. The normal rules don’t apply. What time is it? It could be so many different o’clocks at once!

It’s a funny place. It does things to perspective, to experience, even physiologically. You walk but somehow it feels like you’re running. Down a transient track you go, walkrunning to your gate, (your  3 am exit) as bits of conversation and commerce and commotion fly past you in quick succession, one second glances in the eyes of strangers, some of them feeling oddly familiar. Snapshots of children having tantrums among bulky luggage in a news store inline. So many incremental, rapid snapshots of all the others in the world. You forget they’re out there. They flash by at such a rapid pace, and just as quickly they’re gone. I always feel incredibly slow, unable to keep up with a pace that is either insanely hurried or intolerably slow. I feel standstill among it, even when I’m walk-running. There’s a certain nervousness I detect; most people aren’t really reading their books. I know because I’m creepy and I watch while they wait. They’re always looking up and around, just making a general visual sweep, assuring their psyches that no one in the vicinity has lost their mind yet or look like they’re going to. The people watching went down a few notches with the introduction of cell phones. Now people are actually entrenched in what they’re doing–looking at Facebook or Twitter or any of it on their phones, and probably someone could lose their shit really loudly and they’d hardly notice at all. Anyway, inevitably, there’s the well dressed business man running full speed with his expensive roller suitcase in toe and his jacket flapping behind him. Excuse me!! He yells with importance and people seem to respond. Yes move please thank you! Some people give him a dirty look, but they’ve forgotten solidarity! We have all been that man running like an idiot to our gate. I must say the image always makes me smile. It’s the quintessential reminder that yes, you’ve arrived to the airport. Buy something trashy and take a seat. Read, don’t read, you’ll enjoy yourself regardless because there’s something pervertedly entertaining about watching people dressed nicely and running at high speeds. I know I know, solidarity. But it’s just too easy. Thousands of people you’ll never see again.

airport-ronald-haber
Hi your flight has been delayed six days
A mighty few are novelty travelers, for whom the airport is filled with opportunity and new adventure, and the unique sights and sounds are an exciting reminder of going somewhere new! But sadly many more represent the disgruntled traveler, the jaded one, the one with 3 million frequent flyer miles that he’ll never use–for a vacation anyway. Like the teacher who has been teaching far too long, he’s too familiar with the height of inefficiency he’s about to face, the hoards of human stupidity he’ll have to wait on and wade through just so he can board a vessel where all the pieces and parts of utility and supposed comfort are screaming “I’M TOO SMALL!” Inevitably he’ll be seated by a yelling toddler being spoken to as though he were 40, all so he can experience the miracle of flying at 40,000 feet, a height repeated by the captain 2 too many times along with others “uhhhs” and stutters and unnecessary bits of information. Then the final descent, a wobbly landing to applauding passengers for God knows why, in Cincinnati freaking Ohio.

Personally, I love flying.

The sky has finally opened its mouth to a downpour. Monty has calmed, but he sees the open suitcase in the corner and we’re both a little weary.

Health, Happiness, Seats Forward and Tray Tables up

 

Authors note: This was written ten days ago. Not that you care. 

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What Happens In Vegas Goes On the Blog

What’s up party people? I took my first week vacation away from the blog and I really missed it like it was some kind of boyfriend I took space from. I’d have moments observing something or participating in a conversation and think “Aww, the blog would really love this.” Then I’d try to store things in my brain to access later but most of it drifted away like cotton candy. Anyway,  I have some items on the agenda to address beginning with something that might seem a little hard to believe, but believe it baby. I just returned from a bachelorette party in LAS VEGAS and I had the time of my life. Let it be known that I had no intention of attending this party weekend for obvious reasons. I have no money and no health. And yet it happened anyway.

Movie Poster for "Sick Girl at the Window"
Movie Poster for “Sick Girl at the Window”

I had three roommates throughout my tenure at LSU and we were kind of just our own family. We all studied abroad the same semester so we could meet up in Europe together. We tackled the angst of our early twenties together. When one of us went through a breakup we all felt it in a weird way, as sappy as that sounds. We were tight knit, and those years in college were the best of my life. Inevitably, it became difficult to maintain such closeness after college, as much as we all wanted to think it would never change. Geography, jobs, marriages, and ailing health took their toll on the crew and slowly those days of casual conversations on the porch about nothing became fewer and further between. Admittedly, I am absolutely terrible at maintaining and keeping up friendships in the sense that I rarely answer my phone or fill people in on “What’s new in your life?” I am for sure the worst in our crew. But with those girls it always felt like I could go a long time without seeing them and pick up where we left off. That’s the way to define a best friend isn’t it? Very, little, maintenance.

I remember after getting my full-time job at the gallery after college thinking “Hmm, how does one go about making friends after college?” I was the youngest person at the gallery but aside from age, I felt a real void not having that crew along for the ride. I wasn’t proactive about making friends, especially since most of my weekends were spent in bed recuperating my body anyway. I was nostalgic for the ease in which those three girls and I were friends together.

The first one in our crew was married in 2011 and in true female form, we all screamed and freaked out about it for a while. It really drove home the point that college was over and we were getting older. Last year we got a similar photo text of Tiffany wearing an engagement ring and now the second one of us was “biting the dust.” Once again in true female form, we all screamed and freaked out about it as we begged for details and said all those incredibly female things like Oh my god!! How cute!!! So romantic!! When it came to my attention that Tiffany’s bachelorette  party was going to be held in Las Vegas, I felt a pit in my stomach. I’ve become pretty accustomed to missing out on things due to my lack of health and funds. But this one stung more. I have desperately missed my friends over the last two years. Especially the last few months. I feel like I’ve been a third wheel to other couples and their respective social groups for a while now, and I’ve missed the comfort and lack of effort being with your own great friends affords. I was sad to see the party would be in Las Vegas because there was just no way I was going to be able to make it and I resigned myself to the fact that it would be just one more thing I would have to miss.

But a month ago they informed me that whether I wanted to or not, I was coming on this bachelorette party. “We’re buying you your plane ticket and you’re coming,” Emily told me. Of course my ego and pride always protest a little when people volunteer to buy things for me or help me out, because a part of it just feels wrong. I want to be able to pay my own way. I don’t want to be a burden. But they insisted and I once again learned a lesson in gratitude and humility.  Sometimes you need to rest that “Oh I couldn’t possibly!” reaction, and just accept with grace the gifts that are offered to you. But there was still another problem; even if they bought my plane ticket, how in the hell would I survive Las Vegas? A month ago I was barely walking! My mom and sister insisted that for my flight out there I use a wheelchair in the airport and then get a wheelchair at our hotel and let my friends take turns wheeling me around. This was once again, going to stir up things in my pride. I don’t want to use a wheelchair, I want to use my own two legs to walk. But I also know that every time I fly, I crash the next day, sometimes for like a week. I know if I walk for more than 10 minutes some days, I pay for it for days at a time. So we were proactive early on. We made a plan.

I would use a wheelchair the day I travelled, and I would also use one at the hotel and try to stay horizontal or sitting as much as possible. I had been reading that some people with CFS have found relief using adderall so I brought some with me to take at night so I could stay awake for dinner and everything after. I began praying constantly, whenever I thought of it, for strength and energy and for things to go smoothly while I was there. I had nightmares of me sleeping the entire trip away in a dark hotel room. But honestly, I thought, even if I don’t make it out after, it would be worth it me to go there and have dinner with my friends. It had just been so long since I had done something purely recreational like this. I knew my soul needed it. So we prepared as much as we could and I left the rest up to the Gods of partying and drunken debauchery.

As I stood in the crowded lobby of Caesars Palace on Friday night, over stimulated by the sounds and sights of Las Vegas, I saw out of the corner of my eye two girls pushing a wheelchair with huge smiles on their faces, headed in my direction. My heart wanted to explode. I was so unbelievably excited to be with them again, and to know that just like in the college, they were in my corner again and I was in theres. They would push me the entire weekend, even when I would say “Nah why don’t I just walk..” My friend Emily would put her foot down and insist I “wheel it.” I quickly got a small glimpse into the life of someone who is physically or mentally disabled because people stared at me in that chair. I thought of those who are physically handicapped or disfigured and how many of those stares they have to deal with on a daily basis. I wonder if they get used to it or if after years it still gets to them.

Besides being with friends again, one of the best parts of going on that trip was feeling like a WOMAN again. I wore dresses and high heels. I had my nails painted red, did my hair like celebrities and smelled sexy, because I could. I’ve been sick and wearing the respective sick costume so long, I needed to remind myself that if I really wanted or needed to, I could still take the time and emerge out of a hotel room with my heels clicking on the glossy floor, and make a man look twice. It’s just plain fun to play dress up. And even at age 28, I don’t feel any different than when I was five and I would clumsily walk around our kitchen in my moms high heels 6 sizes too big. All of life just feels like theatre to me now. Two years ago I was wearing the corporate girls costume in pinstriped skirts and last year I wore a sick girls costume and this weekend I was all dolled up at a club and no one knew the difference. I think I really needed to give my mind a rest from thinking about being sick all the time. It can be extremely consuming and I am always cautious not to let my “story” dictate who I am. It’s always been a fine line. But this weekend, for the most part, I was just Mary. A girl with her friends celebrating the upcoming marriage of one. I danced my heart out to terrible music in the VIP section at clubs. I drank gin and tonic and flirted with boys. I even kissed one, just to make sure I still knew how. Turns out I do. I had the time of my life and I think I needed it more than ever. How am I feeling now? Well, kind of crummy. It’s catching up to me. But at least this time, I’m paying for a great time I had, and it was well worth the price.

We Are Women Hear Us Roar
We Are Women Hear Us Roar

Thank you to my friends for insisting I go and helping pay the way. I needed it. I’ll pay you back when I’m a millionaire one day.

Health, Happiness, VEGAS