Bursting into my apartment, fresh from caffeination at Peet’s, it is the most natural thing in the world. Turn on the email, see what’s what. And it is a subtle thing, and a necessary one, that I tune into that other small something that grabs at the chest. The feeling that it is too much. What is too much…well, it may be impossible to say. But there is this impulse, something that says ‘overload.’ Enough. Enough with the email. Don’t go there, it says. Stay here, it also says.
Here being a sort of cycle. I had quite a struggle with the morning’s rowing machine. Lorna got me on the thing. Strapped me, straightened my hips on the seat. And left me for other chores. But only briefly. I insisted on this point. For I was anxious about the entire experience. I hadn’t been on the machine for a good month. And it was a good month, the honeymoon month, and so on, but the effects of staying away from exercise at this, my advanced age, are considerable. Which brought a bad ending to a good month, at least in neuromuscular terms.
I was actually fearing the return to the machine. I knew the fear was out of proportion, and so I persevered, climbed aboard the device and went at the rowing. Heart attack being my conscious fear. But since my doctor assures me that my cardiac health is stellar, this really isn’t any cause for concern. No, once I was rolling away, the real possibility loomed. Simply being trapped. I can get so tired that holding up my torso becomes a major chore. Which means that in the configuration of our carport/construction zone/exercise salon, my head would slump against a metal bar. Not terribly comfy, and enough to induce a certain level of panic. For if one cannot sit up and stay in that position, the only alternative is to slump. Unpleasantly. Uncomfortably. With the overriding feeling of being trapped. The latter being the essence of paralysis anyway. Who needs more of this sort of thing? Neuromuscular coals to Newcastle, and so on.
All by way of explaining the morning’s dominant event, the getting back in shape. And the considerable exhaustion that followed. Which, it must be noted, affected body and soul. After exercising, Lorna and I came back inside, went about morning tasks…which seemed particularly daunting, the normal office mess now unpleasantly combining with the aftermath of my three-week trip…the miscellaneous wires to various mobile phone chargers, computers, e-readers, 220 V foot massager jumbled in a confusing mass of plugs and leads. So, now inside, Lorna and I stuffed one envelope, sorting out the wires. And that was it. I had had it. After a little breakfast, I made my way to the recliner in the front room. Stretched out, and spaced out. How does one justify what amounts to a half hour nap at 11 AM? Easy – one doesn’t. I am getting wise in my old age.
So what to do, but head for Peet’s? Truth be told, plenty. There seemed no sense in the late morning caffeine outing. Weren’t Jane and I heading for lunch around 1 PM? Was I really going to roll over to coffee land, imbibe, then head back for 30 minutes of writing? What sort of plan was that? All fragmented and foolishly nonproductive, right?
The only answer is that it was a plan. The only plan available, impulsive and short-term as it was. Something in me having been sapped by the morning’s exercise bout. And I needed to get that something back. Heading Peet’s-ward looked good, so quadriplegic wagons ho. I was off. Off the rails. Off-the-wall. Off the charts. But off the carpet, and that was all that mattered. My own four walls can limit the sense of possibilities in unfortunate ways. So I hit the road.
And, yes, it’s the usual road, the preponderance of the six-minute trip on Live Oak Avenue. Where questions abounded. Why in my blog world do I emphasize the wheelchair flying down this street? Am I really settling myself into body? Into place and time and predicament? That I am a half paralyzed person, my body conspicuous, my vehicle an oddity, moving at slow and obvious speed down an unusually wide and empty suburban street. Which provides room for safety and, therefore, thought. Yes, it is admirably spirited, this blog stance of the flying wheelchair. Yet not grounded. And what would the latter look like? Well…this is the sort of question that can only arise. Live Oak Avenue being too short to allow for an answer. And so there it sits, this matter of grounded, being truly disabled, limited, mortal and everything else…including achey, old and tired as one moves along. And moves slowly, that is the other thing.
And once inside Peet’s, my mocha steaming away…a sugar-free variant, my belief in avoiding a blast of sucrose unwavering and optimistic…which stands in sharp contrast to the last weeks of travel, when the repeated onslaught of fish and chips, English bangers, sweets and treats seemed unrelenting. I opened the Menlo Park Almanac. And what was there but a book. By a local guy. On distraction, particularly the technology-induced variety. I only glanced at the article, but I got the essence, the important bits. That the desire to be in touch is a splendid one. But it can be technologically perverted. Vis-à-vis email. So no, I do not need to return to my apartment, launch my email program and ‘see what’s happening.’ Because what’s happening has been happening inside me. All morning. And it’s more important, and even more pressing. And as our local author would probably put it, closer to keeping focused. That is to say, focused within.
The article in our local paper preceded the release of his book. Which actually occurs tomorrow night, at our local bookshop. Which, as I read the piece, reminded me that this is how it’s supposed to be. This is how one launches a book, isn’t it? And I thought with a flash of envy, not to mention resentment….how had this guy gotten his ducks in a row, as it were? Announce the book, launch the book, sell the book. Why didn’t I do this? The answer is a mixed one. I did, sort of. I tried. And I wasn’t bursting with personal self-confidence. But maybe next time I’ll do better. Meanwhile, this guy is a local author, and his book on focus is a worthy title, and declaring myself to be a writer and part of the local community – even the literary community – where could I possibly be tomorrow night, but at his book launch?