I’m hobbling through life right now and on my way to get a hip xray. What? That’s right, this is the second injury that I’ve sustained just trying to work out and be in shape, so I want to make sure there is nothing wrong with the structure – the bones – of this operation.
So many of my friends who are over 50 talk about the injuries and long recovery times, and yet none of us want to accept what is happening to our bodies. I struggle between settling into long walks and going for fast runs. Can I do it is my perpetual question. I still believe I’m spry and flexible and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and yet my body keeps failing to live up to that expectation.
I’m trying to come here – to be here – where this place is at 56 years of age. I was walking Stella this morning – hobbling to the neutral ground to head to the bayou – and I saw a young mother with her young son asleep in her arms as she carried him into the 24-hour nursery. I whispered thanks to the wind that I never had to drop my sleeping son off at a nursery. He had a magical nanny and he has a mother who works from home. This was a gift to me and to my child.
As I walked around the bayou, I thought of a trip I almost was going on. A friend and I have talked about heading towards Chicago for her to see her mother and me to visit my dear Flower and the organization of the trip fell apart. Just as well because I am overdue to go to see my family in Washington Parish. I crave the country and sitting in my aunt’s porch swing and seeing Tin run around with all his cousins. I need to visit my mother’s grave too because word has it that a strange man came and took the last flowers I placed there for Mother’s Day and replaced them with sunflowers. Which is odd, because i had put sunflowers.
My mind is cluttered right now and my body is reacting. Or even worse, the world is a hot mess, the city is a danger zone, my body is a hair trigger away from imploding, and it makes me crazy. The other night, I sat in my bathtub – with epsom salt – trying to heat up the hurt on my right side that has dogged me since I injured it while running the Crescent park three weeks ago. I was also trying to loosen the iron band that had me in a vice grip all the way up to my neck from being poisoned. A friend had given me a bowl of soup but neglected to say it had flour in it and I was wretchedly ill.
I started crying and couldn’t stop. I was crying because I was so mad about who I had become – a person allergic to food, the mother of a youngster, with all my energy zapped, a woman who felt as if my sexy and mojo were all gone and here I was starting all over again in a bath of loneliness and salt water tears. I ran from the tub and threw up several times and then dragged my sorry ass to bed. Disgusted with the cards I had been dealt.
A friend sent me a photograph of her gratitude jar the next morning.
I haven’t put one single note in mine in the past several months. So I thought about what I’m grateful for – and I started with hot water. How many people in the world do not have hot water? A woman my grandmother’s age when asked what she was thankful for in her life said indoor plumbing. My grandmother didn’t have indoor plumbing when I was a kid. When I asked my grandmother and my mother what they were grateful for they both said without any hesitation their children. And I am forever grateful for my child.
As I took each painful step walking Stella the next two mornings, I saw an ancient and wrinkled man walk out of the bank with a walking stick. I remembered that I would recover from this injury. That I would get back in shape. And I thought how fiscal health never matched physical health – or mental and emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Like my father was want to say when I was growing up, it’s always the darkest right before the dawn and sure enough when I woke the next morning, I was a different person and able to reclaim happiness and most importantly, gratefulness. The world lately has been a hot mess and it can’t but seep into our pores and try to undo us. We need to remember that we are capable of great regeneration.
I listened to Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot talk about the age from 50 to 75 years old with Bill Moyers and she said there are two paths open – stagnation or generativity, which in her definition meant creating to give to the world. The last six of my fifty years have been the most creative and generative – fiscally and otherwise. I am going to celebrate that – my Third Chapter as Lightfoot calls it – and I’m going to be thankful for the mornings, which always prove smarter than the nights.
And once these xrays are over with, and the blood work finished, I’m going to take that much needed walk in the woods to claim my own regeneration.