A Very Unparked Domain
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Lost Days

Sometimes I lose days. Days slip through my fingers like quicksilver and before I know it they are gone.

Today was one of those days.

I slept well, and woke easily. Then Neil came upstairs with the mail….

We’ve been in Brattleboro for a week, so we had our mail forwarded from Richmond. And in the mail bundle was a shock: an account we’ve been fighting with that made a mistake in our billing. It is a small error that has snowballed into a very long battle. The latest billing mistake wasn’t particularly big or particularly significant, but the surprise of it knocked me flat.

In my current state of health, I have no physical capacity to withstand unpleasant shocks. My head can make perfect sense of a situation, but my body just shuts down. (Think of all the science fiction movies where the captain shuts down the damaged space ship to basic life support: that’s me after a shock.)

So I read the mail, opened the wrong envelop, and started shutting down.

Neil whisked me out the door to eat. We had a lovely, nourishing, delicious lunch at Vegetarian Paradise, a relatively new Jamaican restaurant near the Brattleboro Food Coop, run by vegetarian Rastafarians. The fellow working the front of the restaurant was so sweet, so welcoming, and so overflowing with love that he just made my heart burst. It was all I could do not to cry into my stew. (My emotions are pretty close to the surface on rough days.) In other words, it was the perfect lunch for today.

We came back to the hotel for what looked like an inevitable nap. When we walked in the door, we were assaulted by a strong, chemical smell, probably some kind of industrial cleaner. We didn’t think anything of it, went up to the room, and I promptly fell asleep, around 2 pm or so.

I woke up at 7 pm, after a total of maybe 3 hours of wakefulness so far in the day. When we headed out to dinner (after all, Neil was still on a “regular” day), we stepped out of the hotel and noticed the difference in air quality outside. Whatever the common areas of the hotel were cleaned with today was probably contributing to my collapse, too.

We had a nice little drive and wound up at Shin La, Brattleboro’s Korean / Japanese restaurant. We shared a vegetarian Dol Sot Bibimbap, mixed rice and vegetables in a fiery hot stone bowl, and Ja Jiang Bi Bim, noodles with hard-boiled egg, cucumbers and scallions, with a tangy hot sauce. Both dishes are made spectacular by their simplicity: all of the ingredients stand on their own and contribute unique flavours to the dish. It was a delectable, digestible finale to a difficult day.

Now here we sit in the lobby of the hotel, tapping away at our laptops (we can’t get a reliable wifi signal in our rooms). In theory I’m finding a hotel and mapping out a route to our destination tomorrow night, but in practice we are both distracted by the lobby tv loudly broadcasting speeches from the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Neil’s been getting mentions all week in messages from his colleagues in Richmond, Virginia about the big rains down there courtesy of Hurricane Fay. The pressue system disturbances caused by Fay should be the third strike against me, on top of the mail suprise and the chemical cleaners in the hallway.

All in all, today has been a very good iteration of a lost day.

These are hard days, but not bad days: Neil takes advantage of these days to spoil the hell out of me. He brings me tea, makes sure I’m fed, and untangles the blankets that I turn into macrame in my sleep.

I have spent time around people who figure that a bad day is a good chance to get their kicks in while you’re already down; Neil’s the exact opposite. (Note to single friends: do not marry those people. Stick it out until you find someone like Neil. Please.)

Now it is 11 pm, and the day has essentially happened without me. A lost day.

One of the best parts of dealing with chronic health issues for so long has been getting over my Protestant work ethic: I no longer suffer any illusions about being “productive” on days like these. Just “being” takes up everything I’ve got.

I think of these days as my chance to be a fallow field: catch up some rest, let ideas percolate in the back of my head, invest in my health.

So today may have been a lost day, but it wasn’t a bad day at all.

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3 comments

1 Elizabeth { 08.28.08 at 9:40 am }

I think you captured it perfectly in your last sentence: “So today may have been a lost day, but it wasn’t a bad day at all.” Very well said.

2 Shaula { 08.28.08 at 9:44 am }

Thanks, Elizabeth.

I am something of a forced-connoisseur of lost days. I figure since I (clearly!) can’t avoid them, I may as well embrace them.

3 neil { 08.28.08 at 5:06 pm }

Tolkein said “not all those who wander are lost”. It can apply to days, too.