Will I feel better, hopefully, when I wake up?
Around 6, Steve opens the blinds. The sky is an amazing apricot-pink.
But instead of getting up, as per usual, I just lie there. My lower back aches. But no sore throat. I think, I can just lie here, all comfy.
So I do, for about another hour. I get up. Yep. I do feel better.
Maybe Other Flu Bugs ARE Still Around
I remember, though I’d forgotten, that not too many weeks ago, my son complained about feeling achy and headachy. I dismissed it as not getting outside enough. The kid’s extremely careful and maybe a little overboard on quarantine measures; he’s an admitted hypochondriac.
But as I sit and read prior to meditation, I notice a crazy dull ache at the base of my skull. And I realize, while he may have exaggerated a tad, I bet I’ve got the same non-COVID thing.
At least I hope so.
In any event, I can sit in meditation for half an hour. And, rather than the dock, where I usually sit but which can get a little buggy after 8 a.m.—which is when I make it out of bed—I park in front of some plants on the patio near the house.
I had a teacher named Peter Saul when I was in the MFA program at Cornell. He’d been a Merce Cunningham dancer and I absolutely adored him. He taught us ballet for actors which was a long way from real ballet. Because, truthfully, none of us was exactly a gazelle.
Peter would tell us to let the breath go in and massage our muscles. I’ve never forgotten the metaphor, and I use it a lot—in fact, pretty much every day during meditation. First I breathe into my lower back, which before too long doesn’t ache as much. Then I work on my head. As this goes on, my thoughts are of course bouncing around like a bunch of electrons in my head. That’s what thoughts do. The discipline is in sitting with them and trying to observe them and not get caught up in them.
I’m clearly doing a pretty good job at maintaining stillness, as I hear a loud whirr next to my ear. I think, damn, that’s a big dragonfly. But it’s a hummingbird, going after the tiny pink flowers on the coralbell plant in front of me. It’s so lovely, the hummingbird with his little beak going into the super-small blossom, ignoring the lavender flowers on the hosta in back of it. Occasionally, it makes a little “pip” sound, a lot like the ways geckos chirp in the Caribbean.
I use an app on my phone as a meditation timer, and a few times, I’ve seen something so beautiful that I break protocol and snap a quick pic. I move, ever so slowly, to try to get my phone camera. Nope. The hummingbird is having none of it and flies away.
I feel honestly kind of pleased; it really did think I was a statue. And sure enough, it comes back after a few minutes.
This time, even more slowly, I try to get my hand down to my phone.
Busted again. The hummingbird starts to leave in what appears to be great agitation, then flies back and hovers in front of my face for a minutes. I swear it’s scolding me.
I have to settle for a picture of the flowers. And admit that, while I never would have found pink, purple, and green to be a winning combo, well, I get why the hummingbird is buzzing around.
Poor Mrs. America
I watch one more episode of Mrs. America. What is most amazing about the series is the way that Cate Blanchett, almost entirely with her eyes, expresses the way Phyllis Schlafly is absolutely furious that she can’t have a career. She’s not exactly a sympathetic character. But she touches my heart. I knew her, because I knew my mom and a lot of women exactly like her.
Of COURSE my mother sided with Phyllis. I was just in high school at the time the series takes place, at the time Mrs. Schlafly’s star was ascendant. As a college freshman, I got cast as an angry feminist in a show based on headlines, and I bellowed about the ERA. This would’ve been 1979, and the amendment wasn’t dead yet. It was probably my first step away from my parents’ radical conservatism and it was great fun.
On the episode that I watch today, set in 1974, Marlo Thomas’ program for kids, Free to Be You and Me, gets a fairly significant cameo. I remember watching it in California with my mom and sister Lisa. Mom was of course appalled. “She’s saying….there’s no difference between boys and girls!!” she sputtered. I’m sure, as a 13-year-old, I would have jumped on Mom’s bandwagon. Yeah, I probably said! Boys and girls are SO different! Because at that age, you know that All Boys Are Dumb.
Yet I remembered the song “William Wants a Doll” for years. My brother loved his stuffed animals. I mean…why not?
Marlo Thomas had already been excoriated in one of my parents’ magazines; when featured on a cover, I remember reading a letter from some woman who said, “I am unsubscribing from your magazine. Miss Thomas does not even wear a bra!”
Heavens. What WAS the world coming to?
Actually, don’t answer that.
EEK. Not a Mouse.
I watch for the 36-hour mark; my breath isn’t exactly bated, but it’s a little faster than usual, wondering…will they call? Will the phone remain blessedly silent?
Around 1 p.m., Steve hands me the Biggest Selection of Vitamins in the Entire World. He’s a really good husband.
I continue to feel better as the day goes on. I talk to my sister Julie and as we talk, a call comes through with a 734 area code. It’s Livonia, not Chelsea, where I had the test. Still, I put Julie on hold.
“This is Josephine with blah blah blah Medical,” says a cheery voice, replying to my hello. Oh shit.
“Currently, many people are unhappy with their current health coverage. Would you like to discuss your current healthcare with one our rep—”
Seriously, who is named Josephine in 2020? I should have known immediately. Never have I been so thankful to receive a robocall.
I click back over to Julie. “False alarm,” I tell her. We get back to solving the world’s problems.
She’s a really good sister. (One of three, plus an awesome brother. I’m lucky.)
Afternoon Slides into Evening
It’s 6:25. I haven’t heard anything. Another 18 hours—I’ve added an extra 2.5, just to be on the safe side—and if I hear nothing, we’re in the clear.
Steve and I hang out on the patio, drink wine—yes, I’m feeling a lot better. The hummingbird is back, bombing the milkweed this time.
I could still hear back from the clinic tomorrow. And if I do, well, I’ll deal with it. I’ve got awesome back-up.
The Marcus Aurelius Moment* for 17-July, 2020
From my son Henry, that blame is pointless. He’s a really good son.
*In the first part of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, theRoman ruler details what various people in his life have taught him. To read the full intro to why I care about Marcus Aurelius, click here.