While riding bicycles in the park with my husband, my mind was spinning along with the wheels beneath me. Now, sitting in my rarely used office, I am staring out the window, watching one dark and stormy cloud crawl in front of a marshmallow patch of white. Suddenly the thought of writing something is like catching butterflies in a net…during a hurricane. What was I thinking about as I rolled along the pathway, with summer extended into the middle of September, the temperature still blazing at times.
I really anticipated that September would be a change of season, the leaves would turn, the air would crisp, and I would start to wear cute boots and light sweaters. My life would just melt into a new routine, and I could mold my time into what ever shape I needed. But then I got sick. The first time I’ve been sick since I’ve been in Canada, the sickest my husband of three years ever saw me. I continued with my life on a strictly skeletal basis. I never missed any work or deadlines, I just ceased to participate in anything social. I was running on empty, chugging along for far too long. But it was in the middle of the night, every night for weeks now, waking up at three in the morning, writhing feverishly, my head feeling like a balloon about to burst; my neck tense, brittle and burning. There have been very few times when I felt badly enough to think I would never get better. I began to feel this way within the last few days. Will I ever be able to shake this cast-iron-clad feeling, dragging it around like a prison sentence?
I remember being young(er), and flipping the bird at my health. I must have been twenty-one or so, and being sick for like a solid month. Like, having the worst cigarette and whiskey voice in the world, a shattered immune system and was still running around at four in the morning, kissing strange boys and never wearing a bra….like ever. Whatever, you think you are young and free, and will live forever. Now, in my thirties, getting back to a healthier place was my new full time job. By the end of the first week of my new career, I woke up the Friday morning, at three am, feeling as though I was haunted by a viral ghost. I got through the work day, and spent that weekend chiseling away at my ailment. We are still sleeping on the air mattress in the living room and so I watched four movies, napped, took hot baths, drank fluids, and felt satisfied with my efforts. By Sunday evening I felt as though I had licked my illness. But, once again, three am, and I felt more haunted than ever.
This continued. And it began to dominate my life. I missed a friend’s birthday party, opening night of the production I worked on, a special showing of “Before Midnight” at the cinema. I have declined a number of invitations, and was beginning to feel like the girl in the Norman Rockwell painting that my mother had framed in put in my childhood bedroom.
I would stare at it as a young girl, and really feel bummed out on this gal’s behalf. Missing the big dance on account of a miserable cold. I thought about that picture, as the clock crept past four am, five am, knowing that soon I would have to go to work. And this job is such a blessing, such an excellent fit, such an opportunity, and by the second week I’ve arrived on the scene looking and feeling like the living dead and sounding like someone’s boozy old aunty. To preserve my husband’s health and sanity, (as writhing and profusely sweating on an air mattress on the middle of the night is not conducive to a good night’s sleep for those around you), I started to sleep in the bedroom, taking enough cold medicine to sleep through the upstairs thumping…until I was woken in the middle of the night. I developed the habit of sipping hot water and lemon, and reading a book on the history of the Chateau Marmont.
In those moments, potential passages would pop in my head. Blog topics, vague ideas, random punchlines that I could fit into something, somewhere along the way. But I didn’t write anything down, I just let it drift in and out of consciousness, as I absorbed vintage celebrity gossip. And each night passed, and I didn’t write. I didn’t lie next to my husband. I started to feel as though I was living outside of my self. And now, here we are, and I am writing after a nearly two week absence. In case you hadn’t noticed. And I appreciate that this is a problem. When I lost my wallet, around the beginning of the accidental writing hiatus, my friend Sheanna reckoned that writing would bring it back to me. I wrote, and I didn’t find my wallet, I just lost another thing. My voice. On a physical and metaphorical level. That symbolism will get you every time. Yes, I am a little lost on a creative level. Yes, there was a time that I was pumping out a rather decent yarn of material for an extended period of time. I was once bursting with creative juices, a plump grape surging with delicious nectar, and now it’s a little more like that last shitty raisin at the bottom of the box that you got on Halloween, and begrudgingly opened and ate well after all the good candy had been consumed. But what can I do? Chastise myself? Torture myself? Hardly. My immune system is doing it’s part in tearing me down. I have to believe that I will fully recover, and that I can always go back to writing, come home to the art form, no matter how many days have passed me by.