Saturday, January 14, 2012

in sickness

my sister has been sick for weeks; mono perhaps.  i am getting over a cold.  i sent this text to my sister after she informed me she is indeed feeling better:

"being sick always reminds me of being very young."

and when evian asked why, i replied, "just how intense it feels to be sick when you're young and how much care is given to you.  the way time stands still.  how warm everything seems.  how strange the days become."

and evian responded, "except there isn't any special day at home, and madre is tired and/or far away."

it's these days, special days, that make up some of the most vivid fragments of my childhood.  laying sick on the blue couch in our playroom watchin tv, sun streaming in through the west facing window in the afternoon.  that sunlight which felt strange on a school day, knowing everyone else in teh world was in school or at work.  except for the television, the rest of the house seemed oddly quiet.  mom, without a mobile phone, away to pick my sister up from school.

i remember standing on the stepstool in the bathroom to examine the chicken pox that covered my body when i was seven; the oatmeal baths which couldn't completely mitigate the itching, the agony because the chicken pox were in my eyes, down my throat, covering my face.

i have a fleeting memory of staying in the pediatric ward of huntsville hospital, fascinated by a train whose track ran along the entire perimeter of the wall of the play area.  these are memories tinted with green tiles and hospital gowns.  i hated the i.v., fought with it, couldn't sleep.  i no longer remember for what i was admitted.
i remember laying on that threadbare couch, unwatching the flat projection of the tv and find myself dazzled instead by the particulate light, afternoon rays dancing with floating dust, a vision that still causes me to try to imagine how light can travel both as particle and wave.  

when i'm sick, i find my thoughts to be fuzzy, free-floating.  reality seems to shift, not just because of the emptiness of the hours spent alone in bed when i would otherwise be at school or work.  it's not just the strange quietness and aloneness, but also my direct experience of time seems to change and dilate.  the antibodies in my blood directly affect my brain, sensory input redirected, neural synaspses rewired, my sense of time altered.  i dredge up strange memories of the past, make odd connections that i think profound and should be remembered by never are.  my nasal passages congested, i still detect phantom fragrances of cotton blossom and brown sugar and oranges - for no reason at all!  these are the smells i associate with being sick.

sickness is no longer a time i need someone to take care of me.  i don't want anyone around me.  i don't want idle chatter.  i don't want to be fussed over.  like a wounded animal, i want to curl up in a dark corner and convalesce.  in fact, the only living creature i like near me when ill is my cat.  when young, my father insisted upon the curative qualities of felines for upset stomach.  now, if ill, my cat genevieve rests with me, a solid black lump on the blue comforter warming me as murder, she wrote plays on the television.

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