There used to be a time when exercise, hard work and especially running were parts of normal daily functions. Being late meant you had to run, and muscles were there to lift. A full day was followed by a full night’s sleep when the only concern would be waking up in time for another busy day.
Now, as I go about the heroic tasks of my life, such as walking down the block, housework or taking a shower, with each move I feel like a champion. The recollections of a time when I single-handedly dug a flowerbed, moved furniture and carried my not-too-skinny babies up the stairs is fast turning into a legend. Was it really me who invited a crowd of more than fifty to dinner? Where was the Vietnamese nail salon to remind me that God had created these hands for manicure and not for pealing eggplants?
From time to time, I toy with the idea of a survey of young people, asking them if during the course of a day the thought of “spine” ever crosses their minds. Yes, the spine, the little line running down my back, which now I need permission from before bending down to pat the dog. Spine? I’ll bet, with our educational system being what it is, I may hear something in the lines of, “Oh yes, I’d love to see Barcelona!”
And yet, it is the spine that is going to hold us upright-or not- for the rest of our lives. We don’t hesitate to call our roommate to ask if we may borrow their hair dryer, yet in an attempt to lift Mount Rushmore, we abuse the tiny cushions that are the only safety net of these little vertebrae, not to mention tearing ligaments that are holding the rest of the body together.
Unfortunately, it takes body parts a long time to learn their rights, and even longer to organize their group protest. Now when I want to move furniture my body reminds me that the housekeeper can do that, and if the garden needs digging, I’m told my muscles are on a sabbatical and now the gardener does the job. As for the kid’s rooms, well, they are old enough and, if they can’t clean up after themselves, the door to the little pigsty can stay shut! Yesterday, I asked my eyes if they would please read the small print on my prescribed medicine and you should have heard them laugh!
Nowadays, my body parts and I understand each other. Driven by the illusion that one can make up for the lost times, I do my best to treat them well. After a busy and supper active day, which usually means a few hours of writing, cooking a small dinner for three and making a few phone calls, I need to lie down and take attendance of body parts. “Toes?” I call out. “Here,” one by one respond the tiny guys. “Neck?” “Here,” mumbles a grouchy voice. “Right leg?” Oh. No, not asleep again!
On a hard day, especially when I’ve had a guest or two, there’s often a need to organize a psychoanalytic session with my limbs, cheer them on and ice them down. Guests call to tell me “Khasteh nabasheen,” but I’ll never know why they say, “May you not be tired,” when they know the dinner I served them must have taken a year off my life? Last night, as I gave my feet a soothing bath, I had to massage my toes back to life, well, maybe not all of them, just the ones I could reach.
Fatigue can indeed be a bliss. When you need hospitalization after pruning the roses, when you fall asleep on your dinner plate, when an excursion involves getting dressed, driving the distance, standing in the long ticket line and staying up for two hours in the dark, then going to the movies is a daring adventure. Little by little, your terminology begins to change. You refer to your grocery shopping as, “A TRIP to the supermarket”, and your “Annual dinner gala,” is when the kids come around for Thanksgiving and each bring a dish.
I just drove to LA and back, and though the word ‘just’ refers to last night, it’s going to take me days to get over the damn car-lag. I plan on taking a short couple of hours of nap, but that’ll be after I go down to the floor to pick up the pen I dropped an hour ago. And, while I’m down there, I’m going to look around and see if there are other JOBS to be done before I come up.
Is that a card from last Norooz I see in the corner? And here is that Advil I meant to take earlier on, oh dear, I wonder if anyone is home to help me get up now.