Once a year, the hubs heads down to Washington D.C. for a week as part of a study through NIH. I used to dread those weeks ~ so many days alone in my apartment, spooked by every noise, barely able to sleep through the night … Ugh. Shivers.
I still don’t like being away from him, especially for long periods of time (I weirdly don’t enjoy talking on the phone, which is a necessary part of being apart). But on Monday, as I prepared dinner for Lucy, and then dinner for myself, I realized that it was the first day since I’d broken my foot and had terrible MS flares that I’d been entirely on my own. No one to do the ‘tough’ stuff, no one to pick up the slack, no one to baby me or take care of me. I was completely alone.
And it felt wonderful.
Strange, right? I feel as though, in turn, I should have felt guilty at the small joy of my solitude, but instead I felt … comfort? Knowing that as I adjust to my new ‘normals’ of legs and arms and speed and vision, I could do it on my own. And I was okay. No husband, no parent, no kindly neighbor baby-sitting me. Just me, and my furry friend Lucy.
We had a good day, too. Work was uneventful (a small miracle, or karmic balance for yesterday … I’m not sure), we went on a walk, and then we settled in to enjoy dinner, some TV and finally, bed.
For our walk, Lucy and I headed to the trails I used to train on for my long runs. We used to visit them most mornings, and run them from end to end. I hadn’t been in quite some time, so it was nostalgic and also a little sad. She was overjoyed, her nose full of so many fall smells that she zig-zagged across the trail, unsure which sniff was superior. Her tail wagged, and her mouth hung open in a huge doggy smile. My heart swelled for that, just knowing that this creature, whose care (this week) is solely entrusted to me, was happy. She’s a funny thing, smart as a whip and so intuitive, and yet bursting with energy from every cell of her body. We walked a mile ~ a long, tough mile, especially at the end ~ and I tried to remind myself that when I began to run (ahem, jog) I began at a mile, and worked my way up. I don’t know how this whole MS thing works, but I’m hoping that with practice, a mile won’t be so tough anymore. I focused on that, instead of the irony of the entire situation. Learning to walk again, instead of beginning a fitness routine.
I have to admit, this week got off to a bumpy start. The man & I journeyed to his cousins’ annual Halloween party. We put together last-minute costumes (purchased exclusively from Lowe’s ~ now that’s creativity!) because our original idea did not come together well at.all. And then, despite the ratio of one water bottle for each glass of wine, I did not calculate for the jello shots (which kicked my butt). By the time I curled up in bed on Sunday night (after a great afternoon with my parents watching the Steelers … well, best to forget about that part) I was ready to sleep for days without waking.
However – and this goes to show how far I’ve come regarding being home alone - I still got up Monday morning, made a smoothie for breakfast and got myself to work at a reasonable hour. It’s small things like that that help keep life in perspective, that help me stay positive and believe in myself. It was rewarding to get home that night, and instead of feeling adrift and painfully alone, I felt proud of myself.
Last night, feeling a little puffed up and proud of how I’d been handling my week alone, I decided to venture to yoga. It ended up being a great idea, as work was a bit of a beast. Rather than heading home and drowning my frustrations in a glass of wine (which would have been delicious, but unneeded) I sweat it out on the mat. Minda met me there, her own baggage checked at the door, and we both worked our way through class. For me, it was less frustrating than class a few weeks ago, because I had a better understanding of what would challenge me, and where I would find relief. I also tried very hard to focus solely on my own practice, so while I know our teacher used themes of Halloween ~ dressing up as someone else, and fear ~ I didn’t dive into those thoughts the way I normally do. I focused on my breath, and my hands, and my legs, and my movement ~ how the stretches felt now, versus how it used to feel, and how I could use certain clues to know how my body was feeling.
I thought about how Minda and I both came to the mat from situations of angst ~ but how different it manifested for me in contrast to her. She gave birth to her second child in June, and has been adjusting to life as a mother of two plus a full-time high school teacher at the same time I’ve been struggling through crutches and crazy MS symptoms. Funny how life works, right? Both emotional roller coasters on the best of days, and yet so fundamentally different in their challenges.
I’m glad I took the time to figure out my schedule and Lucy’s to make it to class last night. I think it was a healthy release for the stress that is weighing down my shoulders, and also a nice, albeit brief, catch up with my friend, whose life is winding down such a different path than mine. Moments like that are precious, and I think I understand and appreciate that more as I get older. Everyone makes choices based on their own personal circumstances, wants, desires and lives move in different directions based on those choices. It’s sort of an interesting thing to contemplate, and to me, is what makes life so beautiful.
Today marks the halfway point of my girls’ week with Lucy. And I’m okay with that. I’ve enjoyed my quiet evenings and my early bedtimes, but I miss my husband and am looking forward to having him home. Lucy is, too. (He’s her favorite!)