Out of commission. That is the phrase I had used a couple of weeks ago when my gut was possessed with some untimely spirit that had made it impossible for me to make one of my cross-country treks. It was a trying time but I thought it was my body’s way of justifying the need for a rest. Take a day off, after the days off you were coerced into taking due to another spirit, this time emanating from the collective, faith-neutral noun, “the holidays.”
I’m out of commission again, for days on end now. The temperature is frigid - even with my fleece-lined university sweatpants and sweatshirt, my hooded wool, water-resistant navy blue coat, my knee-high socks and platformed-tie up Swedish rain boots, one of my one-of-a-kind shawl scarves collected from trips that I have not taken to India, my vintage woven black slouchie hat, (the only one left that exists in the world I’m sure), and my threadbare gloves from England that need to be disposed of immediately. The gloves have stitched on them an appliques of an Egyptian Cleopatra eye that I cannot bring myself to toss away.
One of my youth-transcendent qualities is an intolerance for the cold. Though I have cherished memories of summer months’ frolic and intellectual abandon via internships, research, and self-promoted reading, that would also mean having to forgo the automatic rosy cheeks and milky porcelain tinge of non-color my face would naturally develop during cold weather. It is an aesthetic I equate with the pinnacle of beauty.
I’m under house arrest.
At first I thought it apt for the living-as-though-you-were-under-the-weather type weather to coincide with the new year. I need to be forced into change: Stop stressing on missing an opportunity to walk. Sit it out once a while. Place getting work done in a leisurely fashion on a pedestal. Trust in your metabolic rate’s ability to burn energy. Caloric build-up will be kept at bay for at least a day.
I’m a tree whose trunk-like bottoms are holding up a bark of considerable width, finally dwindling at the neck, past the just as wide shoulders. The tree-top is my hair, glorious in its width insofar as thriving healthily, untouched by heat and extraneous product going out may otherwise have warranted. Sunlight is filtering in through blinds mostly closed so that I can partake in aerobic exercises as best as I can without an audience, at least a visible one. The tenants can feel the tree being sawed down. Vibrations and creaking floors are a testament to that fact.
Amidst laughter and high-cheekbones that I seem to have not inherited in as chiseled a manner, I am told to walk around my living room, navigating the coffee and dining tables for two hours. It’s the equivalent to my hours-long walks outside, he said. I caught myself giggling in a lamenting manner. Laughter is healthy, it works some abdominal muscles, but it also seems to represent an elasticity, a not as unmoving determination to release endorphins in the way that would enable me to possess those rosy cheeks I so adore on myself.
Peering through my window at the peak of warmth, I ready myself to go out. A windblown tree later and swirls of white cloud my vision and judgment. Maybe not. Maybe I must prepare myself to once again do a grapevine step behind closed doors and window blinds, numbed by the same melodies, counts, and whoops of freeing fatigue by the teacher’s background dancers in that YouTube video playing full-screen on my laptop. I don’t even need the screen at this point. The moves are etched by my mind’s eye.
I’m under house arrest and downing my second cup of coffee - less black and more brown. The milk swirls around with melted raw brown sugar, mocking me in its intrepid interpretation of the snow outside. Winter just began and it’s foolhardy to wish for its demise so soon. The characteristics of wintry seasonality superimposed onto holiday fanfare exacerbate the horrid season’s duration.
I’m under house arrest, and yet in no time at all the outside will be so arresting as to cause me to seek out the no-shoes interior that enables a face mask, a seat by candlelight, a coffee pot, and a few blocks away from a place that provokes deep-seated faith.