Monday, August 6, 2007

Encyclopedia of Me

I've been working on a couple of different pieces but I am far too close to the issues that they discuss to achieve the amount of objectivity I need in order to avoid them sounding ominously a bit like my collection of "Poems to Die By" penned during my teenage years.

Yet I need to keep my writing practice up and going. So, I was reading over at Purple Kappa the other day and came across her "Encyclopedia of Me" meme which she had found over at Bella Dia. After reading what both bloggers are doing with the idea I felt inspired and have decided to give it a go.

So, beginning with the letter "a".

Albatross. Not the bird, but the metaphorical one inspired by Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I loved that poem the very first time I read it and I think it is because there was so much in it to identify with. You'd think that I came out of utero with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck I have such an affinity for having some sort of restriction or encumbrance in my life or metaphorically speaking, hanging around my neck.

Oh albatross, albatross, I've had so many different ones over the years. But to be sure that I don't cloud the category and heave in insecurities, fears and every thing else under the sun lets look at a definition. From the Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary
I found the following definition:

2 a : something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety b : something that greatly hinders accomplishment : ENCUMBRANCE

So, if I stay within the framework of the above definition, my current Albatross would have to be a double headed bird. One head is for my overwhelming debt. I actually have nightmares of having a bounty put on my head by the American Department of Education. Not because I am not making my regular payments towards my student loan debt, but just because they are there, hanging around my neck for years to come and what happens if one month I can't? The fact that I am paying off on college loans that were used for my graduate school studies in my PH.D. program that I never finished just seems to have packed a few extra kilos of anxiety onto that bird.

The other albatross head would be the albatross of poor health. I have been spending a lot of time in the past few years with my marriage vows echoing through my head: To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health ,to love and to cherish, till death us do part. They were the traditional sort. When I stood up and said them it was like the final opening night after all the childhood rehearsals. I said them enthusiastically and with tremendous conviction. But I hadn't really weighted the words beforehand. Now they are very heavy words.

On the one hand I am happy to realize that I did mean them and do mean them. So I wasn't completely just playing a part in my wedding. But it is hard to know exactly when I began to really mean them, to really understand them, to honestly bear the weight of my wedding pledges. I looked the pledge about "for richer or poorer" in the face when we were the proud new parents of a baby living at the poverty line in Australia without any health insurance. I collected my husband's pocket change and horded it until I had enough to go to the local toy store and buy something for the baby. Each toy that Reno had for the first two years of her life took me about three months to save up for.

Other vows have become significantly more weighty in recent years. At the girl's swimming school the other day I sat up in the second floor viewing area during their lessons. In between waving at my four-and-a-half-year old and flashing the thumbs up sign at my nine-year-old I noticed that one of the athletic clubs coaches was pretty old. He had that "old man" body so that although he still had a decent build and lean muscles, his thighs seemed too thin, his stomach a bit paunchy and his back and shoulders slightly curved. I lusted after that body. Not after that coach, but after that body. I want an old man body in my future. I want to see my husband's body at that age. I want to actually really grow old with him. I don't want to stop having and holding, not so early, not so soon.

RA is not just an encumbrance in that it affects what my husband can do and can't do on a day to day basis, but it qualifies as an albatross on many other levels. Being an auto immune disease and fatal it pretty much can trump just about any tentative plans one shakily tries to scrawl on the future.

And now he is having other health complications on top of the RA. All I want, all I really want right now is to know that I can have a little old man body in my future. I want the Ancient Mariner, not the albatross.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I'm giving you a big hug. I know what you mean, though. I want my husband to take care of himself now before it's too late to make any changes. We're only 32 but he's already had major back surgery and if he doesn't lose a little weight and tone up his back and stomach muscles, it's only going to get worse. Unfortunately, we're procrastinators by nature so he probably won't do anything about it in the near future. Sigh.