My head floated in feverish clouds, while my body slumped heavy in the chair of a waiting room, the signs all in Thai. I was cold, too cold for Thailand, even on a rainy day. I watched the rainfall through the open doorway until I caught a young girl staring at me, peeking around a wall just beyond the door. Even as my eyes caught hers, she looked at me relentlessly, and I felt self-conscious. I felt so ill, and I’m sure I looked it. Hadn’t anyone taught her not to stare at people? I told myself to stop being sensitive; I always revert back to a child when I’m sick. I yearn for my mother; I crave grandma’s soup; I want to cuddle my Mickey Mouse doll, which I left back home for safekeeping. I want to be hugged.
I pleaded something to this effect with my eyes, and the girl looked away. I turned my attention back to the rain and wondered how long it would before they called me. I wondered how many people in this waiting room were here to see the doctor, and how many were here to see the dentist, and why they both shared this tiny clinic. I wondered why there were so many people in the waiting room when I arrived, just before five, when I was told the clinic wouldn’t open until five. I wondered if the doctor would speak English, and if not, if he would understand the Thai that I had been quietly rehearsing in my head since I left my apartment: Fever, kai. Three days, saam wan. Sore throat, jep kaw. Headache, buat hua. Very bad, mak mak!
I wondered if the little paper card with the words I can’t read is really my insurance card, if these numbers are dates, and whether or not they’ve passed. I wondered why the receptionist, when she got up to let the little girl (I wondered if it was her daughter) into the bathroom, took off the pair of slippers she was wearing and put on another pair of slippers, and then switched them again when she came back. I wondered why the little girl, who looked at me with every pass, was unable to get into the bathroom on her own. I wondered how the cluster of motorbikes parked right outside the doorway on the sidewalk had gotten up there - the curb was high, and I couldn’t see a ramp or rock or brick in sight. I wondered how they’d get down. I wondered why the woman who had recently walked in and sat down got up and walked out just minutes later, without a word to anyone. She never did come back.
Hungry, lusting for foods I've never heard of. Stomach rumbling at the smell of things foreign to me. I woke up crying, calling out a name I didn't recognize. I'm sorry, but I'm sure it wasn't yours. For a moment, it may have been, but my gut is a pit of quicksand, sucking down comforting yet confounding inclinations. That, you are. My heart is big and open - But maybe it's not. It's a two-way mirror, dodging penetration. It controls the switch that flips in me with the clacking of permanence. I felt it before I heard it; I listened to it before I told you it was there. Doubt and fear, they pull at it with fingers in a panic, but there isn't any use. I know this as truth by now. These are my inner workings, after all. As loud as you scream that you deserve to understand, I can't explain it clearly. A blueprint doesn't exist to navigate the depths of my perceptions. I have begged for one, filling pages with words like drops in the ocean, until I"m struggling to stay afloat. I've slinked beneath the bed on the edge of dreamless sleep, digging through the thoughts and things I've discarded there throughout the years. Grasping at memories until I find what lies at the bottom of the box, that moment of "Ah ha;" It lingers until it's gone like smoke, and whatever I discovered buried there, I may never know. Sometimes that's just how it's supposed to be. Other times it tortures me. Choppy like rough seas, grating my shells down into sand. These inner workings, turning and churning bits of star dust into everything I hope I am. .
In an act of self love, I give myself permission to:
- Rest as needed
- Fail often
- Feel lost
- Have faith
- Forgive myself
- Forgive others
- Be weird
- Acknowledge weakness
- Try new things
- Be afraid
- Face my fears
- Be honest
- Laugh at myself
- Celebrate successes
- Be grateful to my body
- Feel beautiful
- Be vulnerable
“How do you feel?” Her question was innocent enough, but the sound of her voice drove me mad.
“I’m fine,” I answered, adding, “thanks,” in an effort to mask my irritation. I knew it was uncalled for, but that didn’t diminish it any. I wanted to be alone.
“Can I get you anything? Maybe…”
“No,” I nearly barked it. “Well, actually…”
“Yes?” She hung there, desperate to feel needed.
“Ah, I couldn’t ask you to do that. It’s too far. Never mind, I’m alright,” I said, letting it linger.
“No, what is it? Anything to help you feel better,” she said, and I knew that she meant it.
“Of course,” she said, showing her worth.
“Even Rainbow Cone?” I lobbed the question right over the plate. She looked at me, puzzled.
“Rainbow Cone? Like…the ice cream place? The one on the south side?”
“Yes, that’s the one! Big cone, all those flavors. My mom used to take me there when I was kid. I can’t think of anything that would make me feel better than one of those big cones. Like a taste of childhood, you know?” It spun in an easy arc heading straight for her bat.
“Well yea, I guess. I mean, it’s a bit far, don’t you think? It’ll melt before I get back here.” She was right. A hush fell over the crowd.
“Oh,” I said, trying my best to look dejected. I wondered if that old place was even open anymore. “Yes, I guess you’re right.”
“Aw, jeez, Dan. Don’t look so sad! I’ll do it. What the hell, melted or not, it’ll still taste good, right?” Crack, boom! She shot it out of the park.
“Babe, you’re the best. Thank you.” I kissed her on the forehead and rolled back over in bed. I could hear her there for a few minutes more, packing up her purse and putting on her sneakers, the jingling of keys. I couldn’t wait to hear that door open and shut. I smiled when it did, leaving me lying in sweet silence.
Never did i dream that the silence would last for so long, that she wouldn’t come back to me. That wrapped up in this silence I would suffocate in guilt, for sending her away that day. Sending her to tragedy, to her death. That beautiful girl who wanted nothing but to love me, an undeserving man. No, a monster.
Habits to Help You Get Out of Bed Easier in The Morning:
1. Open your eyes - One by one or both together, it’s up to you. Open them wide and exercise movement. Don’t forget to check in with your peripherals; this is often where the little, important things are hiding, affecting you from the sidelines, their very existence clandestine. Acknowledge everything.
2. Put on the kettle - Remind yourself you are getting ready to drink, from the overflowing cup of your life. Let this pull your blanket down from your chin, and then swing your legs to dangle off the edge of your bed. It’s ok if you need a little time to wake up. Think about the liquid you are about to ingest. The first swallow of the day. Whether you choose to drink water, coffee, tea or whiskey, remember that the choice is yours.
3. Wash your face - Cold water awakens your sensory preceptors. Let go of your compulsion that life should hold you like a warm bath, like your mother’s womb. Let the tap flow freely. Splash the water on your wide eyes; remove yesterday’s garbage. Relax your furrowed brow, leave your muscles free to smile. Embrace the change.
4. Oral Hygiene - What we don’t clear away will rot our mouths from the inside out. Get it out. Swirl the water around, through your teeth and across your sharp tongue and spit it out. Spit it out gently, don’t aim at somebody’s heart. But do not hold it in for fear of making a mess. You will choke on your own decay.
5. Gentle stretching - Easy as it is to lie still, to live we must move. There’s no need to push yourself into heavy exercise, this will lead to fatigue and injury, keeping you longer in bed. Feel your need for movement, and embrace it - slowly, at first, until you are limber and ready for bigger steps. Breathe in as you lengthen your limbs in any direction or manner that feels natural and good. Exhale your fatigue, your stagnancy, your memory. Bask in gratitude as you feel your body loosen and thirst for more movement. This is growth.
6. Get to work - Your work should lure you out of bed, call to you even before you have opened your eyes. If you see this step as a deterrent to rising from your slumber, you are in the wrong line of work. Write a task list that leaves you lusting for its content. Fill your days with challenges that energize your chakras. Do not read want ads on the internet. Sit in silence and flip through the pages of your gut. Shake loose the back issues of your soul, and collect the fragments of anything that falls from their pages. Cut and paste these treasures together into a collage of what your life will be. Get to it.
You don’t have to hold me with kid gloves. Let me bleed into the palm of your hand. Crush my bones down into powder, if only so I can rebuild myself again. Tell me what you’re thinking, throw your words like daggers. I can’t promise that I’ll answer you; I don’t care too much for swords. But don’t be invisible, even when you’re angry. It’s poisonous to go to sleep that way. So love me anyway, and when the morning comes, we can forget about the last day and start a new one. King and queen of whatever we dream our reality to be. Whatever we feel, whatever we need, is ok. It’s a thing called honesty. As scary as it can be, it’s a vessel for the truth. The most important thing, it’s what I seek in you.
I’ve never met you, but I figure you must be wise if everyone is writing to you. I find myself in a situation that I can’t seem to wrap my head around, and I’d like your counsel. You see, my suitcase is packed, yet again, and I’ve told myself I’m leaving, yet again. But I don’t know where it is I’m going. And this time especially, I’m not sure why it is I’m walking away. So far, it’s just been something I do, every now and then, when the place I’m in starts to feel familiar and my every move predictable. I’ve thrown myself into new situations, struggled to find my footing, until I have, and proceeded to build a life around it - friends that feel like family, like lovers, like life.
Why do the fish fly? Is it their instinctive reaction to an overwhelming sense of freedom and joy? Like the one I felt when I saw them rocketing in my direction out of the flat-as-glass surface of this clear blue sea? I squealed like a child, and I jumped too - right into the water. I swam and twirled, splashed my feet in mermaid unison. For a brief instance, those fish and I traded places. I drowned my to-do list in the ocean, with total disregard for the weather above. Rain or sunshine, pay no mind when you are fishing. And that I was. All the while, the fish were flying. I wonder what the birds were up to? Maybe swapping places with the dogs, digging holes in the sand to keep themselves cool. While Muffin and Bo were building castles in the sky. And the cows...well I haven't seen them down here at the beach in weeks. I wonder which animal they've been living as? It's difficult picturing cows doing anything but cow things. But then again, before coming here, I had never pictured a cow swimming in the ocean. Oh, the lives of animals!
Coffee, no coffee?
What does this hangover want me to do?
Last night was glorious!
But today, nam man mot leaw - gas is empty.
Still, I dance,
Sit in the sun writing,
Working towards my dream of
Me, I want water.
(Day 5 response for the August Writing Challenge. The prompt was: Coffee)
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.