I’ve missed blogging. The act of habitual immersion in the present—noticing the varied sounds of my footfalls in the snow, or the texture of a slice of cinnamon raisin toast with crusts slightly charred, but soft-centered, little bites of raisin squishing sweetly under my molars—such observances come more fluidly when I’m cultivating the discipline of dailiness. I felt it when I was in Mexico a few weeks ago: a tug back towards writing. But I’m rusty. On the flight home, I filled page after page in my journal with dense verbiage, words meandering from my pen like jungle vines, without the sense of propulsion that comes with practice, the machete of my internal editor whacking a path to a place I hadn’t realized I was heading.
I arrived home from the trip aglow with delight at the time spent with my amazing, hilarious, wise Nia sisters, immersed in nature, movement and meditation, an entire week devoted to the present. So good. Re-entry from our vacation selves always has its challenges, and mine was no different: a ton of teaching my first two weeks back; several client calls and meetings (not to mention, the actual client work); catching up with my chronically ill brother, always stressful; helping John with some communications projects he’d asked me to look over; buying and shipping Valentine’s Day care packages; scanning all our tax documents. Self-care proceeded straight to the back of the line.
And then came the bad news/good news gift of a pulled hamstring sustained Monday afternoon when my sticky-soled moccasin caught the fringe of an area rug and I catapulted onto my free leg, stuck and twanging like a javelin before flopping earthwards. I was on the phone with Mia, laughing at her story about “accidentally applying” online for a summer internship, whilst also carrying a new roll of paper towel up to the kitchen to swab the dog’s bloody ear (it was that kind of day). Typical, I thought, as I writhed around on our basement floor. I arrive home unscathed from an hour of slip-sliding on the trails, Yaktrax skimming across the sheer ice through a thin layer of new snowfall, only to shred my hamstring over a roll of frickin’ Bounty. I dance at least 6 hours a week, lift two hours a week, walk dogs an hour every day, and it’s this utterly mundane moment that takes me down.
C’est la vie.
The bad news part is obvious: I’m in pain, I’m grounded, even taking a pee is a contortionist’s challenge at the moment. I’ll have to miss who knows how much teaching and will certainly lose conditioning, which as anyone over 50 knows, goes in a nanosecond and takes light years to rebuild. Dancing is how I process my emotions as well as maintaining my fitness, so I’m not looking forward to several weeks of physical and psychological blobbifying on the couch like Jabba-the-Hut. I feel infantilized, calling to John from my new perch in our living room to refill my water bottle, or to help me put on my socks since I can’t reach my feet, or adjust the pillow under my knee because my left leg throbs and groans like an old sailing vessel at the slightest move. I am fighting off an inner voice, honed through decades of don’t-worry-about-me-I’m-fine inner monologuing, that tells me “Don’t be such a pain in the ass” when I ask John to run back up to our bedroom on the third floor for my moisturizer or “not-those-glasses-the-pink-ones.” Having him extricate me from the SUV at the doctor’s office Tuesday was a particular exercise in surrender. The foot of my injured leg got caught in the seat belt like one of those Chinese finger-traps we used to get as birthday party favors in the 60’s—every time John pulled me backwards towards the street, the strap tightened around the ankle of my injured leg and I sobbed like a terrified six-year-old, my butt dangling over the pavement. Marriages are made of such indelible memories as these.
As for the good news, I have plenty of time to write, obviously. And to let others take care of me, which I have never excelled at, but I’m here to learn. (On the couch. In the living room. Stop by.) John got me lavender-scented Epsom salts—what an innovation!—and friends have offered meals, crutches, trashy magazines, and visits, all of which I am accepting with deep gratitude. It feels really nice to allow oneself simply to receive the love and kindness of others, freely offered and cheerfully given. I have a renewed appreciation for the work I’ve put in this year with my personal trainer, Kathryn, as I enjoy my hard-won core and upper body strength: Triceps potty dips and car-roof pull-ups have already come in handy. Friends and acquaintances immediately raised their hands to sub my classes or fill in for one of my volunteer shifts at the women’s exchange. People are generous and kind. One forgets that in these times of vitriol and constant “othering.” I’m enjoying the view out our living room window, which I rarely have time for since I spend most of my time at home staring at monitors at my desk in the kitchen. The dogs are ecstatic about the twin mattress we pulled down from Mia’s room so I wouldn’t have to handle the stairs for now. Monday night, they curled up next to me in deep delight, as if to say, “You mean we’re all sleeping on the floor…TOGETHER? THIS IS SO RIGHT!” The GP who evaluated me Tuesday afternoon not only pronounced that he doesn’t think I’ll need surgery, he also informed me that I am due for both a colonoscopy and a mammogram. Who knows what oversight might have ensued were it not for that reminder? I even have a new fondness for the humble kitchen tong, a lifesaver for plucking ice packs out of the freezer drawer or pulling a blanket up over my feet.
Now it’s Thursday and although I am hobbled and stir-crazy, I am also improving daily. What a miracle the body is. Google searches concur it takes about six weeks to rehabilitate a hamstring strain. That means it will be April when I’m back in form. I hope. Springtime. New life.