Wed 16 Apr 2008
one of the strangest things about bedrest is that it’s never as restful as i think it’s going to be.
three springs, now, i have spent the lengthening days prone, watching the sun brighten outside my windows, imagining i can smell the warming earth. at least this spring it’s my own windows, and they open…though we’ve barely crept above zero this morning so the breeze coming in is brisk. Monday, we had snow. i think spring is doing its best to delay itself in hopes of making me less jealous.
truth is, i shouldn’t dare say this aloud, but i don’t mind bedrest. or not as much as i think i should. it’s an excuse to lie down a lot, and i’m rather fond of lying down, if not necessarily of having to lie down. it’s a respite from the bustle of things, and for a short period of time, it offers a window of solitude that few of us get in our busy lives unless we are sick or otherwise miserable. i am neither. and i am busy enough that boredom is really only a state of mind. i’m still working from home, ostensibly full-time, plus trying to tie up external projects and commitments that have been lying fallow, and organizing our taxes – i haven’t even turned on the tv yet, in two full weeks of couch lounging. i am not yet stir-crazy. but i am growing lonely, as the days pass. i miss being out in the world, interacting, making choices, being an agent – however modest – in the shaping of my own day.
the worst part about bedrest is the passivity. one must buy into the notion of one’s incapacity, on some level, in order not to keep leaping up and doing things when no one is watching. bedrest this early, when there is not even a belly and more than a flutter to remind one of who this is all really for, is an exercise in disassociation, in foregrounding fear, in unharnessing oneself from one’s usual responses to impulse. truth is, i disassociate from my body quite easily, relic of years of disordered eating and internalized shame, but the process carries baggage. i feel vulnerable when i am not free to do for myself. i feel subject and beholden to those who have to do for me, and apologetic for the burdens my incapacity places on them. and thus i disassociate not only physically but socially, pulling inward, conserving myself. the isolation begins to show.
and i do not know how to break it up, to remain engaged yet still. there is no motion here, not while Dave is at work and Oscar at the sitter’s, no coming and going except by the cat. she brings me her measuring tape, her beloved plastic string, and sits patiently, staring up at me as if i might magically leap from the couch and race about the house trailing it like Tantallus. i do not. she continues staring. i work, focusing in spells, consumed, and then drift, unmoored by the lack of routine and context. i consider the date, count days, realize i could reasonably be doing this for another sixteen weeks. the mind boggles, bounces. i flit back to the date: it is the 38th birthday of my college boyfriend, my first love, and nearly fifteen years since the day after graduation when i last laid eyes on him. gone, just like that. i try to remember what his skin felt like, and fail utterly. i bounce again, note that it is the 42nd or 43rd wedding anniversary of my ex-inlaws, who for a time were family…but they are gone too. i send them anniversary wishes, from my head to theirs, and wonder, absently, if the date has any significance to anyone currently a part of my life. i decide no. i decide that i need some mental discipline, that i need to get back to work. my brain trudges reluctantly to the tasks at hand.
i’d hoped for things to be different. my full-time job was supposed to come to an end March 31st, and i was going to be working only three days a week, one at the office, two from home. the other two days i was going to have Oscar home with me, and we were going to run errands and go to Jellybean Gym together, and take spring walks with his new tricycle and i was going to sort through all the old toys and rearrange stuff around here and shed the clutter and paint the new windowboxes and i was excited, so ready, so looking forward to spring days with my boy, doing stuff. but i cannot do. and i cannot have O home with me right now, not alone, because i cannot lift him, nor chase him. we cannot go for walks. and i sorrow, a little, at the spring i imagined – our last gasp just the two of us, you see, or so i hope with wistfulness on all sides – slipping through my fingers as i lie here dull and quiet, staring at the dust on the ceiling fan.