Saturday, June 9, 2007

Building A Life, Continued

Up, down, up, down. This starting a new life outside of my house, away from my books and TV, beyond my computer, and despite chronic pain has become a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I have never ridden a roller coaster I didn't hate. The only thing keeping me going is that I do like to be taller than the trees once in a while.
Now I'm not talking stuck in Stygian depths here, with Hecate as my only companion, nor bounding joyfully through the forest with Artemis, chasing deer and young men with a bevy of beautiful maidens. I'm talking just the regular ups and downs of normal life, but it's been so long since I've had a "normal life" that I can hardly remember what it was like. But I do know when I let go of worrying, life flows much smoother.
My present normal life includes volunteering at a local hospital with the Guided Imagery/Gentle Touch Program, a modified yoga class, going to my trainer for an hated hour at the gym, spending a bit of time with Meg and Myla, and trying to do a bit of housework now and then. I have also bought a (cheap) sewing machine, and am learning to sew. For an enjoyable couple of months I spent one afternoon a week "eldersitting" the mother of a friend of a friend in a the retirement center of a convalescent center. Camille was funny and interesting and unable to talk, but her Alzheimer's worsened quite suddenly and she had to be moved. I'll still drop by to see her, but less frequently, and for briefer periods, once she is settled in her new nursing home.
This morning I went to a fund raiser walk for cancer to do gentle touch on the volunteer walkers as they took breaks from soldering on in the pouring rain. It is interesting to do gentle touch without the guided imagery part (it was too noisy to be heard easily, and it's tough to be screaming something like, "Now take a slow deep breath and let go of tension on the exhale" when the noise level is beyond belief because all activities had to happen in the gym due to the rain). It was also nice to be able to offer a small gift to the walkers, many of whom are survivors themselves, of course.
Sometimes I still wish. I wish I had my old job back. I wish I still had a partner (although perhaps not Rene). I wish the pain would ease off enough so I could live without narcotics, no matter how carefully prescribed and taken. I wish I had a retirement fund. I wish I had some of my old friends back, and had the energy and extroversion to attract new ones. I wish I didn't need a cane or walker to cover ground. If wishes were horses, I would ride saddleless across green fields with my hair streaming out behind me in the wind.
I am finding building a new life strenuous stuff, but I'm not sorry that I am who I am today-which is a direct result of my Big Fall on August 7. 2003. I go back to my early writings in July and August of '04 and find I was a different person then, more innocent about a lot of things, secretly thinking I would go back to work at the prison, that somehow I would pull some rabbit out of my a** and have my old life back in some recognizable form.
Who knew that four years later I would-finally!- be working on an outside life again. Not I. There were times when I was not sure I would live long enough to have a new life, or care enough to consider it, and now I see this working on new life as a gift, a privilege, a challenge, a mountain I am somehow equipped to deal with, valuing the good days, accepting the bad, allowing for the occasional misery that seeps over me and the loneliness that shows me that I am not yet ready for intimate relationships (and I don't mean sexual here) but still knowing that I will be ready eventually. (Aside: boy, it's nice to let a run on sentence run on out sometimes!)
On to a less introspective item of intense interest to me and not too many others. Now you may not care, but today Yale beat Harvard in the JV and Varsity races at the annual Harvard/Yale Regatta (also known as the Yale/Harvard Regatta), which is the longest running intercollegiate sporting event in the country. Going on 127 years. Or something like that. I forget. But Yale won!!!!!!!!!!
Why should I, a graduate of Connecticut College who never rowed so much as a rowboat in her whole life, care about such a win? You may well ask. It's because I live across the street from the Yale Rowing "Camp" where the boys come to train for the event (Harvard's boathouse is a half a mile down river.)They started racing on the Thames over 100 years ago, both colleges renting rooms from the Yankee neighbors, always happy for a few bucks, of course. Eventually the colleges brought property on the Thames, in Yale's case a couple of old houses, which have been added onto as the years have passed.
Now this is not a regular Regatta, where several colleges compete over a 1000 or 2000 meter course. No, this is just Harvard and Yale on a ball buster of a course (please excuse my language, but it is meant fairly literally). The freshmen race two miles, the JV race three miles and the Varsity race four interminable miles, a lung crushing, leg cramping, arm burning, stomach clenching distance which is unheard of in this day and age. And it is the four mile Varsity race that really matters. In the last 30 years, Yale has won the Varsity only six or seven times. Harvard's coach Harry Parker has had a real monopoly on this race for so long that some Yale alumnae have considered putting a hit out on him-or at least considered Voodoo (a religion I know a bit about, but not enough to assay such a curse)
And finally, finally Yale came through this year and won two out of the three. The Varsity came from way behind in the last half mile to win by three-tenths of a second. We cannot actually see the race from here, but listen to it on the radio, screaming across the river like they could hear us, scaring Myla no end in the process. Then we waited for them to exchange shirts with Harvard and row that last half mile back to the Yale dock, where they threw first the coxswain into the river, followed by the whole team jumping in, then the coach, followed by the whole team jumping in, while we-neighbors and parents of rowers and alumnae-all clapped and cheered and hooted.
So a good part of today was quite up, and all I can say is I am grateful.
Blessings, Margo