I feel like I’ve been kidney-punched in both kidneys. I feel like I swallowed a gallon of acid and it is sloshing around in my stomach on the spin cycle. I feel like all my muscles have been stretched out like rubber bands, finely abraded with a steel-toothed comb, then hung back on their joints exactly 3 millimeters off center.
In short, I feel 100% better than I did yesterday.
Yesterday morning I awoke in a strange bed, in a clean, light-filled house. The lovely Linda of days of yore had graciously allowed me to stay in her abode, had further employed her wiles to persuade her two housemates to go along with the plan, and the place was delightful — warm, tidy, inviting, book-filled and interestingly bathroom-fixtured.
There were three cats resident who accepted me with varying levels of affection, the most forthcoming being the Manx. She checked on me at regular intervals to ensure that I had every opportunity to praise her beauty, wit and grace, which I accordingly obliged.
The bed was warm and soft, and I fell quickly asleep, faintly wondering if it was just in my honor that the only photographs in the room were college-era images of Linda — several different versions of her senior picture, as I recall. So I am no nearer to knowing what she looks like now, alas.
I awoke tired, I thought because of the rigors of travel from the day before and the minimum number of hours I had been able to sleep. I got up and did things for about an hour, but felt queasy, so I decided to go back to bed for a couple of hours until my next date with my friends and their baby.
We had arranged to go to church together in Amherst, then to lunch at the Black Sheep Cafe. I had the longer drive, from Linda’s house to Amherst, but I still got there well before they did, and took my seat with a nice young gentleman who was engagingly shy while helping me find my place in the prayer book.
After a few minutes, my friends arrived and took seats directly behind me. Almost immediately, I developed a need to locate the facilities. Because the church’s annex was under construction, this involved going back outside, where it was now snowing, down the street, around the corner, down another street, and into the old rectory. Then through several deserted classrooms, the choir room, and a door that looked like it would alert the National Guard when I pushed through its panic bar.
But I made it in time, and spent perhaps longer than a healthy person might reasonably expect to spend in a strange, cold bathroom. It was then that I suspected that all was not well.
In time I made it back to my pew, just in time for the end of the sermon, suffered silently through the announcements, the prayers, and the general confession, and when the handshaking began for the exchange of the peace, I knew I had to go.
Because my brain was fuddled with the sudden onset of flu, I shook the nice shy boy’s hand, then turned to my friends and held back, saying “I shouldn’t, I’m sick.”
Then I looked back at the shy boy, aghast, and apologized, and he just shrugged with Episcopalian good nature. Nothing a small glass of dry sherry can’t fix, he was probably thinking.
I uttered some inanity about needing to buy a bottle of water, promised to meet them on the church steps when the service was over, and promptly did none of those things.
I went back down the street, around the corner, into the old rectory and through the series of rooms to find my porcelain haven, where I remained for ten minutes. Now seriously dehydrated, I looked around outside for a corner store that might sell me some water, but by now I was entirely focused on Getting the Hell Out of Dodge, as a long, painful drive of over three hours separated me from my bed.
I had planned to buy Linda some thoughtful gift and leave it on the kitchen table after lunch. That plan was abandoned. I had only enough energy to go back and deposit my borrowed (and not copied, fear not, oh formidable Sarah!) keys in their agreed-on location, slouch back into the car and turn my face towards the highway.
I called Erica from the road. She understood. She had seen from my pallor in the church that I wouldn’t be coming back for lunch that day.
I stopped at the first rest station on the pike to fortify myself with water and sugar (some sort of gatoradey drink) and pretzels, of which I managed to eat I believe three during the entire drive, spent another ten minutes in the bathroom, and got back on the road with grim determination.
Luckily I had an audio book of The Woman in White on my pod to keep my mind off my troubles, which it did admirably. The roads weren’t icy, nor was traffic too heavy, but I had to keep a weather eye on the speedometer because the road was simply filthy with speed traps that day.
I made it back to my home. If I could have driven directly into my bedroom and rolled out of the car and under the covers I would have. As it was, I still had some lengthy rituals to perform in the bathroom before staggering into the bedroom, divesting myself of every scrap of clothing in 1.4 seconds and diving under the blankets, shivering so much I upset the cats.
I slept for about 5 hours, got up, watched some tv, went back to bed, and woke up this morning sore from too much lying down. Now, having sat up for a half hour writing this, I think I am once again ready to lie down for another five hours.
Donations of chicken soup, ginger ale, and lemon tea will be gratefully accepted.