Much better. Well after midnight, and a surge of will to hobble in for a hot shower.
This is not an easy thing and sometimes presents itself to me as an ordeal. The doorways are too small for the walker. The bath bench, too high, bumps up against the raised toilet seat, so that I have to swing my legs across it. I have to plan– off with the old damp clothes, arrange the new in order. Soaping up, sluicing down, keeping the shower curtain tucked under me to keep the water in the tub. Standing briefly, right leg bowed to 30 degrees, swelling at the bow, the joints riding on nothing.
Then a rinse, a dry-off, a storm of talc, clean clothes. Yes. much better.
There is such an immense disparity between my ability to live fully on the page–in art– and the constraints of my physical reality. It has taken me three years to fully weight- bear on the mishealed fractured leg, braced. Three years ago I was afraid to go five feet from safety: a wheelchair.
I write in the morning; that is to say, I soar, I sing, I dream and give shape to another post, an essay, a page of the novella, a query for the memoir. I feel like myself then.
And then my body claims me. My legs have swollen; I am faint; everything has to go on hold. I surrender to exhaustion and often, depression, forgetting that only a brave person would attempt to live independently and try to live a writing life, dwelling within creativity, singing on.
After two hours of rest, dozing to cable news, I can start the whole routine again. By then I need to get out of here and I hobble out to my truck with my gimpy Golden Retriever Tess. The truck gives us wings; we fly out along a country road, radio blasting, windows down.
I stop for a latte at a drive in java joint, and a treat for Tess. I bump over the country lane to the place that as we are, is being claimed by the attrition of the years.
I climb up the stairs with the aid of two sturdy railings, transfer to the other walker, and scoot over the carpet to let one litter of five kittens and one of three out to play, praying that good homes are in the offing. I lose myself in a bit of nurturing but always, with opera in the background.
Thank the stars for the color, intensity and beauty of art. We can live into language, paintings, music, just as we can live into any element of the moment, become one with the bel canto, the dusk, the frieze of trees outside the kitchen window.
I know of no other way to keep going. To write stories, to spin yarns, to let poems come flooding to the page, to remember to notice the bounty and mystery of the moment. To imagine my way into being adored and transfigured by a stranger on the coast of Somewhere. Then, I forget what has happened to me– that I can’t walk, and have become homely and conspicuous. Transcendence is perhaps a lost art, but it is how many of us with compromised or no mobility have to live.
I’ve dug in to my little niche in the fourplex where I have comforting and busy neighbors. I feel safe here. I stay up for hours writing, surmounting, “forgetting,” that an early winter has come to me, that I no longer recognize that one in the mirror.
Perhaps it is meant to be this way; as our bodies become more husk-like, our spirits strengthen; the heart opens to life to take it in, drinking in the season.
The choir is singing “Behold, all flesh is as the grass.”
Isn’t that the truth.