After another week of dancing the cha-cha, I decided that the cha-cha was much too lovely a metaphor for the last few weeks. I have not been dipping and twirling in a little black dress; I have been atop a frantic bull that is trying to buck me to infinity and beyond. The bull, unlike most rodeo bulls, has not been in a rodeo pen. It has been locked in a tilt-a-whirl.
But my friends: Three days ago the tilt-a-whirl slowed to a halt and the bull (and I) hopped off the ride. It wasn't long before he spotted a patch of daisies under a nearby oak tree that looked yummy so he stopped for a snack. This gave me an opportunity to slip off his back and stretch out on the fresh grass under a swath of winter sky.
Oh the relief.
I can't even tell you how good this feels. The world is fresh-faced and hope-filled all over again.
Yesterday I drove up the Orange County coast with my windows rolled down and Taylor Swift crooning her sassy love songs. Every few hundred meters I found myself murmuring thank you to God. Thank you for the for sparkling turquoise coves and the sun kissing my left forearm and the wind whipping my hair into dreadlocks. Thank you for all these people who are healthy enough to be out driving to important places to do world-changing things like sell ice cream and landscape gardens. Thank you for green grass, the sizzling kebabs that are cooking in the restaurant kitchen atop the bluff, and the health you've given me to enjoy this day.
Had I driven any longer Taylor Swift would have probably gone hoarse, but lucky for her I decided to park at Salt Creek Beach and get out of my car.
A verdant hill stretched before me, and beyond it, the ocean undulated lazily toward the shore.
I breathed in deeply, five seconds in, five seconds out, the way I do when I meditate. And then, just because I could, I noticed for the 100th time that day that I felt almost normal — almost, but not quite. But absolutely normal enough to enjoy this hill. So I ran down it with my arms open, like a giant, lunatic pelican taking off for flight. I think I must have been trying to give the world a big hug because right then she felt so darn huggable.
The thing about hugging the world is it's never satisfying. I can drink in her jasmine perfume, bathe in her sea breeze, and stuff my pockets full of her sunshine, but it's not enough. I always want more and more and more. No matter how wide I spread my arms, I just can't seem to fill up with enough of her beauty.
I suppose God made it this way on purpose. Our insatiable hunger for beauty is the tide that pulls us back to him, again and again. He is the most Beautiful One, and his hugs are the only ones that can satisfy. I've been imagining hugging Jesus a lot lately. I've also been making an effort to lie on my back with my arms spread wide while I pray. I'm learning that it's important for me to pray with my heart, mind and body. I wonder if this kind of prayer is kind of like giving Jesus a real hug. It feels like it.
Back at the house I noticed the sky was covered with cotton ball clouds. I think we all know that cotton ball skies are the best skies to dance under, along with clear blue skies, stormy skies, and sunset skies. So I headed to the basketball court in the backyard and I danced like it was my last dance: Popping and locking that made me look like a gangly, spandex-clad octopus; and footwork that looked suspiciously like hurdle warm-up drills. I can't say the neighbors on the hilltop overlooking the court felt comfortable with it all, but I know Leslie Knope would have been proud.
I still don't know the exact causes of all my symptoms the last two months, but my doctors and I have assembled some theories that include mold exposure, grief from some hard life stuff, a jammed neck joint affecting the occipital nerve, and stress. It was a perfect storm of sorts. I'm still not totally back to normal, and I'm still in problem-solving mode about a few things, but I have been leading a normal life the last few days, doing normal things with normal energy levels. This feels glorious. I'm feeling quite hopeful that all will soon be resolved.
In the meantime, I'm doing the things that life is too short to not do. Tonight, during my walk, I stopped at a local park and hopped on a swing. I pumped my legs like my mom taught me when I was a little girl, and I swung in and out of the breezy sunset. To my right, a middle-aged woman played ball with her three sons, and a hunched man guided his fluffy, prancy white dog across the grass. I tilted my head back and felt my pony tail whipping in the wind. It reminded me of a tradition my female teammates and I had in college.
Every Wednesday, toward the end of the dreaded 300 workout — after we'd puked at least once and narrowly escaped blacking out — we'd walk up to the starting line to run our last repetition of the 300-meter sprint. Before we looked to our coach for his signal to run, we'd pull our hair loose from the ponytail holders that kept stray hairs from sticking to our sweaty faces. We shook our hair till it tumbled around our shoulders and then we put our game faces on. This would be our hardest lap yet but we'd make it our fastest, our hair streaming behind us like victory flags.
I pumped harder and swung toward the tips of some naked tree branches, wondering at the things my body has allowed me to do over the years. Sunset shadows crept across the grass and the songbirds' symphony quieted. Pollen floated across the sky, small flecks of fluffy light. And I reached back, pulled my hair out of its ponytail holder and let the wind send it flying.
© by scj