18.5.18 Garden tulips
I am looking at the tulips nodding over my notebook. I am looking at my bare legs, the raised hairs on my arms, the gleam of my hands in the bright sun. Something has happened to my breath lately. It is thicker. It flows in and out like something warm and liquid and I have to keep from swallowing over and over.
I do not know how to tell this. It is a nonsense tale. All these months writing boldly of a single life, of courage, my teased challenges to love and infatuation and all the rest, and here this was waiting as if to show me up.
They started me on a new cardiac drug regime a month ago and it is working. Although it isn't a cure, I have more energy than I’ve had in years. My movements are faster with less of that gelatinous pull. Where I could walk 20 steps, I can now, on a good day, walk 40, although my legs scream in response, like over-stimulated children. Where for long months I could do little, now it is easy to do too much, but every time my nervous system tries to pull me into galloping tachycardia and unconsciousness at the slightest adjustment, the pacemaker steers me back. I feel good. I feel newly awake. I feel strong.
To have been pulled out of symptoms of heart failure at the exact same time my heart was pulled so unexpectedly into new love is so ridiculous as to be unbelievable. I’m not even sure I believe in it – in love as unasked for and fast and sure as this. Do I? Do you? I feel like you will laugh at me or roll your eyes. I know I want to.
I text him from my hospital bed, my heart rate already a steadier, more sensible line on the monitor just an hour after the drugs had hit my bloodstream and I hoped it wouldn’t jump when his answer came and ruin the whole procedure. I wondered if I should declare him.
“Are there any variables we should take into account?”
“Ah, yes, you see, there is this man…”
Eight weeks in, we pour over our early communications like mages over star maps, trying to understand it. How simple sentences exchanged as strangers could have grown into this: a polite, formal correspondence, then shy and eager, shifting so quickly to avid, to unapologetically, giddily smitten. Two months ago, I didn’t even know his name and now it is a treasure, dug all the way into the soil of me.
Words soon weren’t enough. We’ve spent the last month hesitantly touching our fingers to the video screens that now sit between us every evening. He lives in another country, a beautiful one, and shows me the sky there each day, a different blue to mine. He is over a dozen years my senior and has goodness running all the way through him.
It is impossible and impractical and I won't stop.
I have spoken of vulnerability so many times but how little I knew of it really until now.
I have avoided writing about all this here, deliberately, stubbornly. I’m not even sure if I should. It's why I've been so quiet, although working on the books I'm writing is another obsession entirely and consuming me just as much. It's all been too big to speak of. I couldn't find the edges of my life to describe it all. I'm another shape, suddenly, and I don't know what it is yet. It makes me afraid.
About the only thing I can bear to do right now is tend the garden, my new energy driving me ever more ardently to tend and try and make something grow.
I poke sharp sticks into the soil around the newest, wobbliest additions and scatter slug pellets with fierce understanding. The laughable, horrifying, beautiful alignment of it, to fall in love during springtime, when all around me fragile new things struggle towards a new life; to have to watch what fails. To be in this body, this body I thought would never be enough for anyone new again and to wonder and fear that all this – this new energy and intimacy – is some horrible mistake and that something is waiting to devour it all as soon as I am assured.
Suddenly, there is a ‘next’. Suddenly, there are plans, dreams. It’s as if life realised the record was stuck and has nudged my whole earth back into movement. Suddenly, after years of stasis in this house, this scattering of familiar streets, there is the potential of new sun on my shoulders. I am full of fire and energy under this clear sky and a gentle man talks of driving me to Sweden, to Germany, of all the things he wants to show me.
I do not understand how life can be this terrifying and this tender.
I am happy. I am joyously, hysterically panicked.
What can I tell you? It is a nonsense tale.