Out of Commission

September 17, 2010 at 7:33 am 2 comments


It’s been a rough couple of days. Not the rain, not the early school mornings, not the sibling fist-fights, that stuff is just normal rough. No, the giant lumpy tonsil in the back of my throat, with the pustules, is the culprit. The put-it-off-until-the-last-possible-second-because-it-hurts-too-bad kind of sick. The lay on the couch, the bed, the floor, from morning until night, walk to the mailbox and need to recuperate kind of sick.

It’s been almost two decades since I felt like this. Senior year in high school. Stretchy, tight, white eyelet t-shirt, loose boy Levis, a field trip with Spanish class, and painful tonsils. That time around I limped through the day, speaking as little as possible, until I could make it to my mom. Like only a mother can she had me on antibiotics and tucked under her covers before nightfall. I knew if I could just arrive at her door and deliver the bare minimum description of my state, and I could be done, finished, no longer in charge.

But this time around things are different. The alarm went off at seven, and because it’s what I normally do, I was at the kitchen counter assembling bread slices before I realized just how bad things really were. The peanut butter was a new jar, needing to be mixed, the oil congealed on top in that unappetizing way. I gave it a weak stir, a bit of juiciness sluicing onto my wrist, and I had no other choice but to give up. My head reeled, my stomach turned, and I had to retreat to the couch for a spell. I lay there, eyeing the jar and giving myself a pep talk. Its only peanut butter. I can do this. Men and women all over the land stir peanut butter. The oil will mix with the nutty paste, it is sure to do just that. I’ve done it before, I’m sure I can do it again. There is only the sandwich left, after that I am scott free. I stumbled once more onto the battlefield, I stirred and stirred, I spread, I jellied, I cut the beast into bite-size pieces for the girl who’s just lost both front teeth. Victory music was playing in the background now, slow-mo. I clicked tupperwares, I taped the special note, I zipped. Wha-bam.

A quick pee, a hand washing to spare myself the nauseating nutty smell, a goodbye to the schoolgirl and I was out. I tagged Nathan, you’re it, and I was done. For the whole day.

I would have to be sick, really sick, to do nothing. To wind my scarf over my eyes and sleep against the light of the afternoon. To watch the children scratch each other’s eyeballs out and just weakly stroke their tangled locks. To feel the boring eyes of a particular yellow dog, a dog that hasn’t missed more than a handful of walks his entire eight years, and still pull the covers up, if not to sleep then to lie there, simply lie there.

And I didn’t have my mom, although I reminded myself of that fact in order to juice up a little more self-pity, but I did have phone calls from intuitive caring friends, pushing past my stoicism, letting me know how ready they were to help. Witches brew from my village-mate, delivered in a steaming, giant, mug, and offers of dinner. And I had Nathan. A house-husband at heart, given the chance to shine. After I passed the baton he was off and running, school drop-offs and pickups, a toddler field trip to the children’s museum, an evening dog walk,  dinner, conflict mediation, tooth brushing, story reading, dishes, and occasional tonsil inspections.

A flurry of action contrasting my inaction.

And now I am able to swallow, to stand without swooning, to speak above a murmur, and filled with gratitude for this body, this family, this man, this community.

Once again reassured that I can fall and be caught.


Entry filed under: life lessons. Tags: , , , , .

Waiting Hot Cocoon

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sally Tuck  |  September 18, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Brave woman of amazonian stock. My heart goes out to you. I am glad that you have been able to feel the light of that tunnel’s end and that all those beautiful souls – including the big eyed one who missed the walk – surround you.. even if every part of me knows those days when its really hard being all grown up.. those days when you just want to hide from them all.

    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  September 18, 2010 at 11:02 pm

      Thanks Sally.


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