Monday morning: the middle ring.
You can either go up or down.
Piper made a good choice.
May we all do the same.
I know no one who likes to pack and I would put myself at the top of that list. Even when I travelled regularly for work and had it down to a science, I still hated it. As I prepare for my first big trip in five years, I am a little rusty but my dislike of the whole process remains strong. Why do we have such an aversion to filling a suitcase even if we love to travel?
To pack you have to unpack your life. You disassemble all the things you use everyday in order to take yourself with you when you go. It’s like those pop-up stores that appear one day and vanish the next. Choose, box, move, unbox, display, drawer, hang. Trip over. Box, move, unbox, display, drawer, hang. You are basically taking your one-woman show on the road, props in tow a la Carrot Top. It’s a lot of work both coming and going and that alone may be the reason we all dread it, no matter how much we are looking forward to the trip.
Whatever the cause, it could be worse. We could hate to travel but love to pack.
It’s said eating turkey makes you sleepy
But I propose it’s something more
It’s not the tryptophan that will get you
It’s all the prep the day before.
— Sister Rain
This morning my husband informed me that I had a bad dream during the night. I then vaguely remembered him waking me up but have no recollection of the nightmare. I asked him how he knew I was in the grasp of some unconscious struggle and he replied, “You said, ‘I’m going to kill you'”. Twice.
I’m curious to know what the dream was and I wonder where the dreams go that we cannot call to kind, even though that’s where they reside. I can understand the bad ones staying undercover and I suppose we should all be grateful for that. But what about the good ones? I don’t want to forget them. In the early days and months after my vision loss I often dreamt my full sight had been restored. It was painful at the time to wake up and realize it hadn’t but now I would welcome colors and clarity and brightness any way I can get them. And to spend time with my mom would be wonderful; I’m sure in those reunions my husband would hear me laughing in my sleep. What about the ideas and inspirations that come to us at night that leave us feeling excited about our future when morning comes? I don’t want any of these images and thoughts to disappear in the time between their end and my emerging from sleep.
I don’t know who I threatened last night. Twice. Normally in my scary dreams I am paralyzed by fear and am unable to move, unable to scream. Where forgotten dreams go is a mystery. But in this nighttime thriller I took on the bad guy. Maybe that’s not such a nightmare after all.
When I worked fulltime, traveling and also attempting to keep everything running at home, all I ever wanted was time to myself. I know no woman my age who doesn’t long for an empty house every once in a while. Who am I kidding? They want it often.
Now, I find myself home alone more than I’m not, with my husband and friends at work. It is a solitary, lonely, isolating existence. Being at home instead of out in the world every day like everyone else, interacting with all types of people, has been a difficult adjustment. I have built myself a life at home that is busy but it is a completely different life than the one I led for forty-seven years before the last five. I am a social person and although I text my husband and friends during the day, if not for Piper, our parrot, I would not speak a word to anyone for ten hours most days. My professional skills and experience have sat mainly dormant and I have missed making a contribution in the traditional, familiar sense, although I do hope this blog has reached someone who needed it.
Over this last year I have begun to venture out more and more, slowly returning to some places and activities I would not have thought twice about, let alone once, before, but are now downright scary. As I put myself back out there, I am reminded of the life I lost and aware of my challenges now. It can feel very “square peg, round hole” -ish. But nothing is more unnatural to me than being isolated from the world. None of us should live that way. Although this is our one life, it is not meant to be a life of one.
When I was taken by ambulance to a Philadelphia hospital from our local medical center the day I woke up blind, I wore a hospital gown and my own white athletic socks. When I was admitted by the city hospital, I was given a pair of non-slip socks which I put on over my own. During the week I was a patient I wore my shorts and t-shirts my husband brought me from home and kept wearing my own socks under the mandated hospital safety pairs.
Five years later, I can’t stand to be without socks. Even in the summer, I wear them at home and sleeping with naked size 7’s is impossible. I cannot bear the feel of them exposed against the covers or the carpet or other flooring. I have discussed it with my therapist and she has given me different steps to take at night to work up to sleeping with bare feet. Admittedly I haven’t attempted her suggestions very often but the few times that I have I have been unsuccessful.
It is amazing how the mind can manifest trauma into something physical, so many years later, when I have adapted the rest of my life to live with limited vision. Although I have landed on my feet, they still wear the protection of the most life-changing week of my life.
“They say it’s about the journey and not the destination.
But sometimes, when the journey is especially difficult,
it’s ENTIRELY about the destination.”
— Sister Rain
My mom loved our first bird, Cato, who was a Lutino cockatiel. When she was at our house she would joke that he was a “time-waster” because we would end up playing with him instead of whatever our intentions were.
Sometimes in the morning, Pioer, our parrot, is sleepy and cuddly, he just wants to perch on my finger and chill before his day of play kicks into gear. The To Do list in my head mixes with my mom’s words but my heart always speaks the loudest. This little creature, often full of piss and vinegar, feels safe and loved and trusts me explicitly. He has come so very far since we adopted him five years ago from a rescue and these moments are to be treasured.
Wasted time with Piper and the people and things we love is always time well spent.
As I have written about many times, my friends are my family. I have never spoken of it here but I have a brother eight years older than me and a father who both live about five miles from me. The how’s and why’s are a long, long story but they don’t have a relationship with each other nor with me. Since I was very young it was always my mom and I and when she died five years ago, I lost the last of my blood connection. There are no grandparents, aunts or uncles, no cousins and my husband and I have no children.
So I know no one like me, neither in the scope of DNA nor in the fact that all of my closest friends have offspring, parents and extended family. I doubt that my friends have ever thought about it, nor did I until the last year or so. We never wanted to have kids and have never regretted the decision. Even with this newfound realization, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Bloodlines, of course, are no guarantee. Families break down, split, become estranged. But it is sad to become aware that you are not biologically attached to anyone in your life. I have a loving husband, his family, our feathered little guy and sisters of my heart who mean more to me than the brother I am not in contact with ever could. But when my mom took her last breath, I lost my grounding force in so many emotional ways and also in my genetics.
I see the disparity of lamenting the end of my blood ties when a biological parent and sibling are so geographically near. But those links died long before my mom did and those passings were so much more final than my mom’s soul leaving her body. My real family will not appear on my ancestory.com tree but they show up everywhere else. Blood may be science but it is no substitute for love.