The injury aligns with the breakup, a window sash in its jamb. One smooth slide to a perfect seal. In stays the still air. Out there, bees and dew and all the fecund detritus of summer.
This forced meditation is only welcome because it came in with its trunk and has evaded any attempt to pin down its schedule for moving on. All I can do is make it feel at home. I fold myself in beside it and listen to it breathe.
All familiar routines are out of commission. Before this, any hint of stillness was a signal to go find a Zumba class or kick out the door in my running shoes. With a busted knee, the simplest thing would be to sit back with Netflix and ride out the pain.
Before this, any internal chatter was a signal to pick up the phone and call my Mister. Now he’s not mine anymore. The social buzz whips around this empty living room like a downed power line. It sparks, it pops. Without a companion to ground and receive, the simplest thing would be to cut the juice.
The window is closed but outside sears right through.
Daylight has a way of complicating the simplest things.
This weeklong recuperative holiday from work is intended to let me heal from surgery on a torn meniscus. It’s offered up a twin opportunity to grieve the end of a 3-year relationship. Isolated in my house, work on hiatus, endorphins on strike, and Netflix as a numbing agent at best. . . this reads like the Idiot’s Guide to Letting Depression Win.
Creative character development is my saving grace.
Who can I be, if I can’t be the person I though I was?
Where does a single lady with a limp get her kicks?
In one script, injured and alone gets you starving slowly to death in the woods. In this, a different story line emerges thanks to a series of small set changes:
- Surround the bed with books. Literature, history, science fiction. Books of surrealist art, books of essay, books of drawing tips. Stack the bedside table with journals, sketch pads, jars of pencils and markers. Cue up music. Doodle, write, doodle, read, doodle, drift. When the eyes are too bleary from painkillers to make sense of WEB Dubois, close the book and sketch instead his black-and-white portrait from the cover.
- Invite a friend to visit. Ask for the curry, the berries, the small texture your tongue misses. Answer the door in your pajamas. Invite friends to come play board games. When you’re feeling well enough to drive, ask friends to meet you at the farmer’s market. Sit in the shade and gossip over gyros while the bluegrass band plucks and croons.
- Say yes to the invitation to attend a cookout at the acquaintance of a co-worker in a neighborhood you’ve never visited. Even though only three people out of the 20 there know you and you have to hobble across the deck to shake hands, find a seat and ask all the questions. Dance your way into conversation with the NPR journalist who teaches at Duke now, the retired Navy officer, the dude who lives half the year in Ukraine who’s personal friends with John McCain.
- Crash the neighbors’ cookout in your own back yard. Yes, these are the same neighbors whose failure to invite you left you grumpy and hurt last year every time they gathered at the common picnic area right outside your door. But this is a new summer, and this is the re-write of that tired script. When your kiddo says “let’s go,” go. Take your own tablecloth and bag full of the dinner you’d planned to eat inside. Share your your baked beans, your sparkling water, your bug spray. Let the kids careen around as a pack. Notice that by the time the sun sets, everyone is at your table hooting and gabbing, and you’ve got playdates and new numbers programmed into your phone.
- Knock on the neighbor’s door and invite her to join you at the town’s Memorial Day festival. Wander the booths with her, sampling Mary Kay makeup and gathering schwag from the local banks and dentists. Weave your way through the hordes of kids sticky with cotton candy, parents waiting in line for the tilt-a-whirl. Throw a blanket down on the grass and listen together to the band playing purple dinosaur songs while flushed little girls spin loopy circles under the midday sun.
- Go solo to the wacko sci-fi movie night on the rooftop of a local bar. Help the organizer hang a bedsheet and get the projector humming. Sketch in your journal and giggle along with the aging geeks and baby-faced engineers at the psychedelic freakiness of La Planete Sauvage.
- Go to the gym and lift weights. Go to the gym and walk in the shallow end with the retirees. Water the plants on the balcony. Hobble to the corner with the dog and stop to let her say hi to the kiddos on the corner.
When clouds roll in and a damp sky brings the weight of pain, limp back home. Ice the knee, slide into the nest of books and pens and paper and music.
Float for a minute in the cool and loose feel of him. Let his phantom thread its silver limbs around yours. Long for him. Thank him for showing you this art, this weirdness, this courage, this shiver.
Wish him rest, wish him flight.
Then slide that window closed again and turn towards the colors of your own page.
Write the story. Flourish the edges with the scent of honeysuckle. This meditation is only a visitor, despite all evidence to the contrary. Wrap your wound around her instead. Ride the current of her breath up to your unfolding arc.
Image: “Le Jardin” by Cecilia Paredes
13 thoughts on “Injured and Alone”
Goodness such good work. Last night I read (Zizek on Hegel): “the subject is the result of its own failure, of the failure of its symbolic representation – a subject endeavors to express itself in a signifier, it fails, and the subject IS this failure…the ‘breaking of the vessel’ is the opening to its restoration…spirit is the wound it tries to heal…what is thus found only comes to be through being left behind…we begin with nothing, and it is only through the self-negation of nothing that something appears” – a few quotes i copied in my notebook. Related, I hope. Hope. My but you are doing good work.
“what is thus found only comes to be through being left behind.” It seems so simple in these few words. How does a subject leave itself behind? With what does it do the leaving? The self being left is the one also parting from that self. It’s a fracturing process, and very disorienting, yes?
in these readings, the “leaving behind” or “undoing” apparent “failing” of whatever we had proposed to ourselves as “who we are/were” (our subject-ivity) is actually what enables or constitutes the becomings of subjectivity. Does that make sense? As we…breathe into the pains and wounds and fracturings…we are becoming – I guess from Lacan it loops… but what we end up discovering is caused by the failure/loss/lack… it’s all quite disorienting to me :). (but has seemed true throughout life – that retroactivity of narrative once becoming takes hold… we gradually begin to “find cause” in what was a failing-wound…and become… process (?). Not sure I understand it all at all…but trying
nursing a cocooned foot
silence and chaos
my friend’s prescription
netflix + gin n tonics
That last part is what’s missing around here!
I adore this and wish I could bring you curry and other yummies! Plus? Your commenters are also awesome!
I’m a lucky lady indeed!
This community of bloggers is one of the things I’m grateful for every day. You are a forever flowing source of artistry, ideas, struggle, insight, and maps to unexplored universes. So much to play with. So much to inspire. Thank you!
After an absence that was no one’s fault
we are shy with each other,
and our words seem younger than we are,
as if we must return to the time we met
and work ourselves back to the present,
the way you never read a story
from the place you stopped
but always start each book all over again.
Perhaps we should have stayed
tied like mountain climbers
by the safe cord of the phone,
its dial our own small prayer wheel,
our voices less ghostly across the miles,
less awkward than they are now.
I had forgotten the grey in your curls,
that splash of winter over your face,
remembering the younger man
you used to be.
And I feel myself turn old and ordinary,
having to think again of food for supper,
the animals to be tended, the whole riptide
of daily life hidden but perilous
pulling both of us under so fast.
I have dreamed of our bed
as if it were a shore where we would be washed up,
not this striped mattress
we must cover with sheets. I had forgotten
all the old business between us,
like mail unanswered so long that silence
becomes eloquent, a message of its own.
I had even forgotten how married love
is a territory more mysterious
the more it is explored, like one of those terrains
you read about, a garden in the desert
where you stoop to drink, never knowing
if your mouth will fill with water or sand.
“After an Absence” by Linda Pastan
Wow, this one hits right in the solar plexus.
“Turn toward the colours of your own page” that and every other word of this are magic. Magic! Such a great lesson in here – for me, for all of us. It’s so easy to let solitude and depression win. This here is triumph and celebration and expansion.
you are wonderful.