Last Thanksgiving Day, I was putting several heavy dishes up onto a high shelf with my right hand. All of a sudden, it felt like a small explosion took place in my elbow. I had a houseful of guests, and I thought I just “tweaked” a muscle, and it would calm down, so I plowed through the day. And the days after that.
December came and went, and then January, February, and then, in March I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and saw my doctor, and she referred me to a specialist. As it turns out, I hadn’t strained a muscle, I had torn a tendon in my forearm, (which explains why I had to have a friend and colleague carry my computer bag on and off several planes because I couldn’t lift it). The specialist gave me a cortisone shot and said come back in a month for the second shot.
Fellow procrastinators, you know what happened after that… my elbow felt better and I figured I was good.
Nope. Not by a long shot. I’ll be making that appointment for the follow-up shot tomorrow.
I took the photo above from my hotel window in Boston a few days ago. I could actually lift my arm high enough to (just barely) make the shot.
All my life, I’ve been waiting to burst through the door during the darkest winter night to the smell of someone baking cookies FOR ME. As the fall gathers the darkness into folds and Christmas approaches, part of me feels so hopeful and happy. I picture myself smelling the sweet air, dropping wet mittens behind me, peeling off boots and coats, and scarves, and hats, with no one instructing me on where to leave these snow-crusted garments. Just a joyful presence, who has never had a face, holding up a cookie pan saying, “These are for you!”
It’s a lovely dream, and as those days retreat into the backdated calendar, here comes slim and tidy February. Not too long, not too short, saying:
GO TO THE CORNER,
Twilight can stay
A few moments longer.”
The deciding day of February comes when I leave my office with the light in the western sky reaching up over its head into the endless darkness, telling me spring is coming. I know in an alternate Universe, whoever got stuck being me, is probably polishing off the last cookie.
It’s hard to look at myself in the mirror. I’m not 20, or 30… 40 is a distant memory and now I’m in my 50s. I don’t mind the passing of the years: I’ve worked hard, lived an honorable life, and have nothing to fear in the Great Beyond. So, I’m good.
Ok, then why is it hard to look in the mirror? Now I know what my grandmother was talking about when she said, “Who is that person looking at me from the mirror? I’m still 16.”
Lately, I find strange scars showing up. The chicken pox hoopla over my left eyebrow that my mother freaked out over—you will be scarred for life, Virginia—now shows up in the odd late afternoon light when I’m in a certain bathroom in the house, and I rub my finger over it and think, “Hey, that’s not so bad…” There is another scar on my left hand that has recently come to light that I have no recollection of acquiring. Not too bad, just slightly visible, but I can’t for the life of me remember how it happened. The jagged scar on my left middle finger came from pulling a branch out of a gutter, and the one inch scar on my right forearm is from reaching into a hydrangea bush on my grandfather’s property to pull out dead leaves. In other words, I know where most of my NJ tribal markings come from. But not all of them.
My face is no different, although, scars fortunately are not part of the narrative. Now, my face is showing the lines of sorrow, laughter, and lack of using the products so readily available to stave off the very marks that are more and more apparent. Does this make me sad? No. I’ve earned every line, every chicken pox mark, every expression of joy and sorrow. Would I change anything? Hell yes. I could have done with a little more happiness and a little less on the chicken pox side of the world.