The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Bad Bug February 27, 2012

Was really sick yesterday. Really sick. Good timing, though. I’d just finished organizing and cleaning out the basement the night before. I’m a tad embarrassed to admit that after I was finished, as a reward for my dozens of hours at the thankless and grueling challenge, I took myself to the movies. To see ‘Wanderlust’ of all things. I was in the mood for some white bread, some frivolity. Nothing else that was playing appealed. I knew that it wouldn’t be worth the ticket price and that I’d probably regret it halfway through. But in fact, having gone with the assumption that the script would be kinda lame and it would undoubtedly pander to the lowest common denominator (and learning later that my assumption for the most part was true), I was in the end happily surprised if, for no other reason, than to see Alan Alda and Linda Lavin (peers, remember the 70s sitcom ‘Alice’?). I also dug a scene in which the very pretty Paul Rudd has a pep talk with himself in a mirror – something I’m guessing was probably him just blowing. It was refreshing to see some improv make it into a movie. The scene even made me actually laugh out loud. Something I realized – mid laugh – that I hadn’t done in a long time. Thanks Paul.

Got home, into bed and realized I wasn’t right. I’d been battling a persistent, pill-resistant headache for hours and was now getting flushed. I considered anaphylactic attack but no, it wasn’t a match, so I just went to sleep hoping it would right itself overnight. I awoke in the middle of the night with a miserable nausea. I don’t like discomfort – who does? – but I’ve always cited nausea and sore throats the worst. I don’t know why – but a sick gut has always trumped everything else. And I’ve broken my neck as well as several other bones so I do have something to compare it to (oh, yeah, and childbirth too). So what to do? Pepto seemed the only proactive thing. I downed some and waited. Discomfort grabbed me no matter what position I took; all I could do was wait for the inevitable. And it came. Throughout the next twelve hours my system rid itself of everything and then some. My diaphragm wrung itself like a mad sponge until my eyes were bloodshot, my head wet with sweat, and my temples pounding with headache.

This was also the day that my son was coming home, and he and Fareed were at the train station several towns away needing to be picked up. I could hardly move much less get in a car and drive. To make things worse, Elihu had left his precious dark glasses in Chicago and was without any protection. I was too out of it to dwell on it. I took the glass half full attitude. It would be really hard for him to manage being out in the world nearly blind, but it might well be a good, hard lesson for him – of how all-important his glasses are and of how important it is to always, always make sure to have them. I let this one go, and had to let Fareed figure the rest out himself. It cost him some change (the taxi alone from town was $27, to say nothing of the bus tickets here from the Amtrak station) but in the end it was ok.

Shortly after they got in (or maybe a week later, I was out of it and couldn’t tell) I smelled food cooking in the kitchen and pulled a pillow over my head to block it out. As I felt then, it smelled simply atrocious. But my next thought was one of comfort, of relief. Dare I say it? I was relieved that my ‘husband’ and son were home. The smell of food being cooked in my home said love, it said caring, it said ‘don’t worry, I got this one’… I know it isn’t logical given the reality of the situation, but our tiny house felt more like a home with Fareed there. With someone other than me keeping it together. I love my life here with Elihu, but man, when someone else is here it kinda highlights how lonely it can be sometimes.

I’m glad that my body still ached with flu when my brother came to pick Fareed up and drive him to the airport late last night. It softened the mood. The reality. How seventh grade girl of me is this? – it took the edge off knowing that this was the last time Fareed and I would be together as ‘legal’ spouses. The deal closes on March 7th, so technically, we’re still a ‘we’ til then. We hugged, and then I stood in the open door a moment watching him and Andrew walk off into the darkness. He turned around and nodded goodbye.

Fareed is back in his routine, Elihu is back in school, I am well. And my basement is both organized and clean. I mean clean. Not only do I now know where everything is, but also there is no more grunge on the floor, no more damp, decomposing old boxes, mouse turds or soggy piles of pink insulation laying about. The whole place is well-lit and inviting. I even have a work space for my new sewing machine! My goodness, seems yet another metaphor of transition. Fits and starts is this life’s progress, and most gratefully I’m feeling fit to start it all over yet again.

 

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