So far 2017 has not been my healthiest year to date. In fact, most of my loved ones seem to have been dealing with infections and bloodwork and tests since before Christmas. Generally I try to adopt a “Don’t worry until you have something concrete to worry about” attitude, because more generally I try to live by “The universe unfolds as it must; you can’t bend it; maybe bend you?”
The past couple weeks I’ve been waiting for more bloodwork while trying not to let the limited info from the last bloodwork I had done metastasize into bugging out. Imagination is often a useful thing, but sometimes it runs amok and is not so fun. Like when you get a call about your test results that goes:
THEM: So we have your test results.
THEM: Yours are a little high.
THEM: A normal reading would be somewhere in the range of 40 to 60.
THEM: Your reading was 550.
I’m selectively good with numbers but rubbish with science. When I hear normal is 40-60 and my number is normal multiplied by something between nine and 14, that doesn’t strike me as a “little” high. But I love to trust; it’s like my favorite thing. So I default to figuring the person on the phone must have said a “little” high because that’s true, and not because they’re a disembodied voice of a stranger I will never meet who owes me nothing in life and has no interest in this call beyond giving me legally required or at least legally courteous information and then hanging up so they can take a piss or flirt with their work friends or whatever it is disembodied stranger’s voices do when they’re not giving me ambiguous medical information that may or may not allude to a serious health problem.
That call was probably about two weeks ago. How’m I doing today?
I went to work this morning and felt off. Walking down the halls it was like the floor was inviting me to crumple in a pile and just lay there. I’ve never fainted, but I felt tired enough that I really thought I was just going to stop functioning…like my mind and body would just be all “Smell ya later” and clock out for the day. I’ve been wiped out all day.
Which brings me to Facebook.
It’s weird being home sick in 2017. Normally I tear through social media devouring any and all content that’s remotely interesting and sharing it, possibly ad nauseam considering how many of my “friends” are people I haven’t seen in 20+ years or former students who are used to me focusing on “Substantiate!” and appositives and periods-and-commas-go-inside-the-quotes-never-outside.
But — and I think this goes back to childhood — I feel guilty if I don’t look like I’m at death’s door when I’m home sick. Back in the day you could be home sick in the privacy of your non-internet world and no one knew how you were doing, unless they reached out with a phone call or in-person visit. You could stay home and lay in bed, or read, or watch TV without fear of judgment. But now, if you’re posting updates or sharing articles, I wonder if that behavior is so normalized that to engage in it in any way is to suggest self-normality. So like a jackass, I end up skulking around social media. I read things I find interesting but refuse to share them, lest I look like I’m living it up too much.
Today I found myself surrendering to a temptation I generally pass on, which is Facebook’s “People You May Know” page. If you’ve been in a coma for 10+ years, you may not know what this page is (also, you’ve awoken to a U.S. led by Donald Trump and a bunch of Nazis and Orwellian villains. RESIST!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!). I don’t know how FB decides I might want to know someone; I already know mad folk on FB I wish I didn’t know. Why would I want more?
I saw a girl I simultaneously recognized and didn’t. It took me a few minutes to realize she was the first person I met for a date after a two-year relationship had ended. Our lives have apparently lapped over one another’s since then. We went to the same grad school program and have taught at the same university, so naturally we have know some of the same people, which is why FB thinks she’s someone I might know.
I remember the day we met, because I was teetering between nervousness and anxiety as I walked down the street to meet her at a park. It had been years since I went on a date (I also remember it well because there was another woman at the time who had interest in me, and she got royally pissed when she found out I’d met someone on a date. Later I’d find out this second pissed woman was sending naked pics of herself to someone she was more-than-dating at the same time she was feeling possessive of me). It was autumn, one of those wrong-yet-divine days that are far too warm for that time of year, so they’re crazy windy, as if the Earth itself is teetering between states of being, too. Twists and swirls of colorful leaves frenzied all around me.
I remember reminding myself as I walked down the street to never forget that moment: the excitement, the weather, the sensation of anything being possible. I knew whatever did or didn’t happen with this person, I would always be grateful for that afternoon, for what it meant to feel joy again, to feel possibility again; after a difficult summer of healing and betrayal and feeling the world shrink, to feel it breathing again, exhaling, expanding…I’ll never forget that.
I’ll also never forget how on that date, as we were discussing our shared love for writing, we talked about people and places we might have in common, and her bringing up the name of a guy I’ve never met but everyone around me seems to know, and her awkwardly assuring me, out of nowhere, “I’ve never slept with him.” It was, I thought, a strange thing to volunteer out of the blue. Turns out today they’re engaged and have children together.
Today I’m engaged and get to share a most astonishing child with the love of my life. I hope we have 50 years and grandchildren and great-grand children together. I suppose everyone gets the same deal. You get a lifetime. Change yourself as needed, and as much as possible, accept it for what it is. What you need will find you. The universe unfolds as it must. Also, if your job is to call strangers with the results of their bloodwork, SUBSTANTIATE! Give them some context, for God’s sake.