The Good Life
My head feels like it’s the size of a small planet. I keep getting dizzy and there’s no real accounting as to the whys and whats of this. Every time the phone rings while I’m conscious, I silence it because I’m tired of having the same conversation. Perfect. I’m becoming a misanthrope. “Becoming,” like I haven’t secretly been a misanthrope for years.
The people I want to call aren’t calling, except when I’m asleep. Hello, people I love. I’m sorry I’m not answering. I’m asleep. Of course, as soon as I type this the phone rings and it’s someone I love. I can’t even make sweeping generalizations about the phone calls I answer these days. I am fine. The tumor(s) is/are out. The jury’s out on if it was one or three. Three little tumors sitting on a branch fusing into a giant mass. But not the kind of mass you get on Sundays.
The fever wants to kill me. That’s a lie. The fever wants to eat my brain. Brain-eating fever! Brain-eating fever! (It’s true if you say it twice, Beetlejuice if you say it thrice.) The doctor is on speed dial. Whenever my head sweats more than it should in a hour he is consulted. “Let her sleep.” “Give her fluids.” “Put her in an ice bath.” “Let the fever run its course.” “Buy antibiotics.” “It’s five o’clock in the morning, she’ll live till nine.” “OMG, the Olympics!” Usual doctor prattle.
A mystery: where are the pictures of my tumor? Did my father actually throw them away? Or is he hiding them in his briefcase? And why is his briefcase so ominous?
There is comfort in pacing the marble tile. There is comfort in my dreams. I dream of ex-boyfriends and small mice. I dream of dorm parties and tall men. I dream of rivers and workshops with workouts. I dream of writing, but I fear the computer will eat me.
I fever dream that we are all outed. That someone stands up at lunch in the cafeteria and exclaims, “She finds mayonnaise disgusting! She used to watch Skin-e-max when she was twelve! She finds Kiefer Sutherland attractive as a vampire! She thinks that cake is overrated!” And only two of those are true. I dream my father finds out the whole world is homosexual and takes his own life. I hold him as he complains that all the boys had bigger beds than he, all he wanted was a king. I dream that I no longer have a fever. I dream that I am swimming underneath a short bridge in cold water. I dream that my right arm hurts. Yet, upon waking, it is my left that deadens with my weight.
There is gossip from Colombia. So-and-so says she has no money, but her bank account in Miami says otherwise. So-and-so was seen drinking with a man in Cartagena, while her husband freeloaded in Bogota. And your cousin! Your cousin was seen exiting a building where at least one known single man lives.
“Think of this as a sabbatical from life” my father tells me this morning. I don’t know how to explain that the last three months have been a sabbatical from reality. I want to go back. I want to go back. I don’t even know how I got off the track. I want to go back. Yeah!
I’ve been an old man too long. When I will be allowed to shake my booty once more?
I wonder how the ancients pass the time. Do they even feel time anymore? Do any of us? I used to have goals, but when I realized that I would end up in the exact same place, I decided to give myself a fever and dream a little longer. Sweat doesn’t involve too much discipline.
Another cold rag goes on the head.
The staples holding my stomach together come out on Monday. I should be back in Pittsburgh on the 19th. I will stop in Houston to collect myself before then, but not after. I am swollen lopsided. But my hair is pretty.
The teddy bear understands my love of silence. The internet understands my love of distraction. Netflix knows too much about me.
I’m just waiting for the break.