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Archive for March 21st, 2013

Spoiler Alert!

I interrupt this long-neglected narrative to (temporarily) stand in the present.   I have reams of notes to fill in the intervening walkaboutishness, and fully intend to do so, because I think there’s some good stuff there; but today’s Facebook post, and the unexpected responses I received, prompted me to hurtle forward in time yet again.  Sometimes narratives, like life, move like lurching train cars.  So, if you prefer to remain in suspense about what happened after that last entry, you’ll want to skip this one and come back to it later; otherwise, buckle up, and let’s roll.

Three years ago today, I was winding up my Boulder reconnaissance mission, having spent three weeks in a sublet, yet unaware I would move into that same neighborhood just five months later.  Two years ago today, I was delving into a life I had never before imagined, doing all sorts of things I’d never expected, unaware that a few of them would turn on me and kick my ass.  Just one year ago, I was recovering from months of illness, unaware that I would soon relapse severely, and spend the next year-plus struggling to return to health.  March is a season of extremes and unknowns, unpredictability and uncertainty.  The only thing I know about March, is to not trust anything I think I know.  Except to surrender to the wind, and know when to come in out of it.

By now, most of you know I landed in Boulder, Colorado, ferociously eager to explore new terrain and a complete change of lifestyle.  Many of you know that after just a year here, I began having health problems – starting (it seemed) with my heart.  This won’t be the blog entry where I go into the details of my health – that will keep for another day.  There are huge lessons to be shared there, but right now, I want to contemplate the shiftiness of this season, the unsteadiness that is recovery, the winds of change, the unpredictability March keeps blowing at my feet.

After canceling every commitment and obligation I’ve had for well over a year, I recently was able – with much assistance, support, and planning – to make it to New York for a family wedding.  Missing this long-awaited celebration would have devastated me.  I already have missed so many things through this illness:  my Mom’s 75th birthday, singing Mozart with a favorite conductor in Scotland, singing Mahler’s 8th at the Aspen Music Festival, attending my 30-year high-school reunion…and those were just the biggies.  I hadn’t seen most of my family in nearly two years, and few of them really knew what had been going on with me.  To most, I’d had some vague health problems, and had seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth.  So despite my personal loathing of New York and its environs, despite my knowledge that placing my sensitive system in that toxic environment would be risky at best, I knew I had to make that wedding.  Even, I told my cousin (the groom), if it meant being rolled in via wheelchair.  Make it I did – alas, not without one humiliating wheelchair ride (across LaGuardia Airport the night we arrived).  But five nights later, mission accomplished, I was back in Colorado, having achieved my key goals of making it through both the rehearsal dinner and wedding without leaving early.  I have to admit that when I could not join in the traditional dancing as the bride and groom entered the reception, I burst into tears.  Still, my loved ones reminded me:  I was there, and that alone was a victory.

New York was hard.  Everything was planned around protecting my energy, preserving it for the big events (including the travel days), and keeping the city’s invasiveness at bay.  We arrived in a snowstorm, and departed amidst a rainstorm, and while the intervening days offered the ease of early spring’s loveliness, I spent a lot of time having to just stay in and rest.  But I did get to plug back into my family, which was critically important after so much isolation.  It was hard, but so worth it.  And then, the most amazing thing happened:  After returning to Colorado, expecting to be felled, clocked, and clobbered for days after the return travels, instead I seemed to magically turn a corner.  It felt like yet another layer of the film of fatigue and exhaustion and illness just peeled away.  Practically overnight.  At first, I didn’t say anything, not wanting to jinx it.  But everyone who saw me in the past week noticed it, and commented.  I had suspected that March might be the turning point for me in my recovery, but it was just a hunch. I had no solid nor medical reason to think that.  But there I was, starting to get a little spring in my step, another piece of my brain back (yes, the one that makes it possible to write again), and the energy to interact and function one level closer to my norm.

So here I am, back in my chosen home, starting, just beginning, to feel, believe for the first time, that I might truly be able to get well again – not just better, but all the way well.  But everything feels so odd – even this positive change feels like quicksand.  And tonight, as I write this, I am back to feeling extremely tired again.  Everyone tells me recovery is never a straight line, and to expect setbacks, plateaus, and yes, even sudden plunges forward.  I don’t know where I am anymore, I don’t know what feelings to trust, or even what my senses are telling me; perhaps because they’ve been so compromised for so long.  I can’t remember what normal might feel like.  But March, oh, March, appears to be a month of the unexpected, the unenvisioned.  March brings feelings of change, without any clear sense of what those changes might actually be, or what they will yield, good or ill. Airy, unsolid, mercurial winds, quixotic weather and perceptions are all around me, blowing through me.

Since I left the ground at DIA two weeks ago, perhaps my energy lifted off the ground with that airplane, and now back on the massive stony foothills, I’m having some trouble getting my grounding again.  I don’t seem to know where I am, what I feel, what to expect.  Finally, with a little help, I remind myself to expect nothing:  I have no further commitments to renege on.  I have nothing left on my schedule to do but heal, and I have enough evidence to know that having patience will be worth it. (Not that I have a choice.)  I need only continue to recover.  But while this blog and my walking about emerged from a sense of restlessness, this current unsettled feeling won’t do in an entirely different way.  I can do nothing about these shifty winds of March – they are beyond my control.  I have to let them blow around me, and do what they will.  I have to find a way to accept wherever they will whisk me, and try not to resent feeling buffeted.

Still, I can drive up my local mountain, sit on my rocks, stare at the sky and space around me, listen to the silence amidst the whispers of the trees.  I can connect back into the solidity of the masses beneath me, breathe in the stillness around me, and notice the coming storms gathering out over the Divide.  And when their winds finally start to kick up and blast at my upturned toes, I can get myself up, take a moment to hug a rock, and head home.

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