Today I was reading through the archives of Posie Gets Cozy (the blog arm of Alicia Paulson’s beautiful Posie store), and I came across this entry where she wrote about the anniversary of her horrible, horrible accident. And…wow. Alicia is a great writer, and she uses the full force of her abilities to precisely capture the sensations and struggles and weird funny-nesses that come out of overcoming a truly awful event. This, particularly, smacked me with truthfulness:
Occasionally, I feel a weird nostalgia for my time in bed. The long quiet afternoons. The backyard cats quietly stalking each other under the bridal-veil bush. The absolute removal of all of my responsibilities. My intense focus on whatever I was embroidering. The imaginary world I created in the handwritten scrapbooks I made from my old travel diaries. The reassuring vapidity of daytime TV. The birds that came to the feeder a few feet from where I sat. Letters. No computer. The joy of short and long visits. I heard a story on This American Life several years ago about the strange longing for prison that sometimes affects ex-cons. (It’s Act V of Episode 119.) It was really good. I feel that sometimes. It was an incarceration that felt a bit like childhood. You don’t usually get to experience that sort of dependence, and boredom, as an adult. There was something incredibly decadent, and illicit, about it somehow.
My ruptured appendix episode wasn’t even remotely as harrowing as what Alicia lived through, but it still knocked me outside of life as I knew it for over a month (the five sweating, doubled-over days of mistaking a burst appendix for a terrible flu; followed by a thrilling surgery; followed by an infected week in the hospital; followed by two weeks just lying in bed, hydroplaning on vicodin and watching the clouds float past my window). And it really was “an incarceration that felt a bit like childhood.” I love that! The free time of childhood is usually described as such a golden thing, but there’s also that stuck feeling, that buttery, sugary burden of too many luxurious hours to fill. But Alicia also spots the appealing elements hidden inside that incarceration. Recuperation certainly was not at all fun, but I have a definite lingering fondness for those strange, unplugged days when all my regular life goals and expectations were swept clean and replaced by little, highly honed hurdles like “walk two blocks without woozing” or “pass gas without shitting everywhere.”