The trouble I am having these days…is not like the trouble I am having many days. What is troubling about these or any days? Age…lingering memories of abandonment…dim fears of the future. They coalesce and precipitate, heaviness descending through the fluid of life, just like one of those school chemistry experiments.
Am I really having more trouble getting my body out of bed, or do I fear having more trouble? Perhaps both. The day begins with Jane up and bustling out the door to walk the dogs. She offers me a helping hand for bed emergence, and I decline. One of those things I have to do myself, just to prove it is still possible. For it does seem marginal, the way I drop both legs off the edge of the mattress, rock back and forth until I can get into the sedentary…my torso muscles on their own being insufficient for this maneuver. And, yes, there are memories of being trapped on my back in my bed. It is possible. It has happened. The likelihood of this happening now being hard to calculate but easy to feel. That is the thing.
So as Jane readies herself for a walk in one of the rare sub-freezing California winter mornings, I begin this rocking-back-and-forth effort to sit up, and thereby get up, from bed. She reenters the bedroom, dim in its early light, just as I near the critical apogee of my rocking. She is witness to this dire, muscle-straining moment when I fight for the sedentary. I can feel my teeth baring, the fierce and somewhat embarrassing strain of it all. Jane cheers me on. What she has witnessed does not worry her, even if it worries me. Nor does she feel obliged to intervene and save the cripple from his struggles. Just a cheery go for it, as, yes, I make it into the sedentary…and she makes it out the door with two small dogs, both ready for their morning’s elimination. And having chosen to hang out with an English person, my next step could not be clearer. Tea.
Which, any British person instinctively knows, could have defeated William the Conqueror if it had been invented in 1066. For the time being its function is to defeat the morning, move things along as they need to be moved. Jane heading for church, me heading for…well, this may be one of the problems, if one can call it that. Certainly among the challenges. I lead one of those dangerously unstructured lives. Ask Jane where she is headed, and the answer could not be clearer. Her church on Sand Hill Road. Ask me, and issues of destiny quickly arise. Where are any of us headed, I jokingly respond when Jane asks about my day’s plans. A jaunty reversal of matters ecclesiastical, it seems to me. And yet the truth is much more plain. My life is not organized around any organization. I am free, excessively free perhaps, to do what I want. So what do I want on this particular morning?
I want to get ‘out.’ Often my goal or complaint. And I’m never certain of the wisdom. Escape? Running from matters interior? Hard to say. Hard to stay home, that is the thing. I roll as far as the fava beans, before anything else, checking out the raised beds for lowered-temperature damage, vis-à-vis frost. They are not looking very good, these beans. Hard to say what I can do about it, except spray them with the morning hose. Which I have no intention of doing. Instead, a freezing wheelchair roll to Café Borrrone. Coffee and food. Plus a friend, an old one. I have been running into him here for years. While, for just as many years, his wife has been dying. And, he tells me, she has just died. After years of nightmarish decline, just two days ago. And here he is, and here I am…and now there is no doubt about the worth of this journey into the suburban center. My friend was sitting at another table in the café, but now he joins me at mine. The death of a loved one, I tell him, can make a person crazy. General advice and specific warning…along with an instinctive sense of having accomplished my mission, my human purpose…a small stitch or two added to the social fabric. And, no, neither of us urges the other to have a nice day. It is not a nice day for my friend. That it is a day at all must suffice.
Nuts. My next objective, of course. How I settle on this is not clear, but breakfast is over now, and it’s either home or…nuts. The Menlo Park Farmer’s Market has quite a few on display this morning. I go for half a pound of pistachios, then the same of walnuts, and, why not, some almonds. Allegedly, all of these are destined for the Tuesday evening snack period of the Menlo Park Chorus. I have volunteered for this critical mission. And it is a measure of the task’s relative importance that it is on my mind now. And that, like good California liberal, I am buying local. And in bulk, reflecting another part of my heritage. How many nuts chorus members will eat in the five minutes allotted to their rehearsal break is anyone’s guess. I am estimating on the high side. But you never know. Whatever keeps us going.