Sick Day – fin

324 miles and morning seems like a lifetime ago. But I woke without the foggy, thick feeling in my brain. My nose still ran like a faucet, but I think I’m pretty well resurrected from the Death Plague. I made some coffee for my mom and I, and we video chatted with my dad, in London. It was nice to smile and laugh together. Then, in our own time, which took alot of time, we head out. Just down the road, my jeep waited, also resurrected.

Its only been a couple weeks past our one year anniversary together, and shes cost more money than shes worth. Yeah, I call my jeep a “her.” She’s far too small and dainty to be referred to as a “he.” Like an Undine, all deep, aquatic teals. Small, mighty, and trouble. She’s been nothing but a thorn in my side. Never failing to hit me in the head when I open the back to load things in, and her back window refusing to stay up on a hot day in the sun, despite functioning a/c, and never, never failing to go dead after the slightest amount of neglect. All boats are referred to as “she,” perhaps because men loved them as they loved women, or perhaps because they were as high maintenance as a woman. 

I am hoping the approaching new year will prove better for us. For her and for me. A new beginning. Although truthfully, I don’t hold much hope. My heart has been cracked and broken too many times to hold much of anything within it. Everything is just going to happen. Maybe one day I’ll meet someone who knows the art of Kintsukuroi.

She brought us home. I unloaded her contents back into my small apartment. I sat on my couch, while my cats settled back in. It was dark, and late, and cold. Tomorrow, I’d be back to work. No more sick days.

Sick Day – day 5

My mom shoots a look behind us as the sound of Christmas music blares from right on our heels. “Thats me. Its my purse,” a woman offers. “It helps keep my cheer up while on my lunch break,” she doesn’t smile. We both turn back to the cashier and complete our transaction.

Its not a mystery how Christmas snuck up on us. Its just hard to be cheery when your last grandparent is laying in a hospital bed, no longer eating or drinking, no longer recognizing anyone. Its hard to be cheery when you’ve just celebrated the life of a 32 year old woman whose hand you held at her wedding, and then she was gone 12 hours later. Its hard to be cheery when you’re making follow up appointments to address your own cancer scare.

The mall is tedious and full of people. Its lunchtime on a Tuesday and I’m not sure why they’re all at the mall. The presents for friends are easy. The presents for pets are the easiest. We get those all done before noon. Its the presents for the family that are the challenging ones. We walk thru the mall, eventually stopping to get underwear for my dad, and plain tank tops for myself. We stop at the center stand to get Summer Sausage. What do you get when no one really wants anything.

I’d noticed the Christmas decoration boxes upstairs. Out and open, but not unpacked. No Christmas lights along the roof, no stuffed Santas, or holiday table runners. Just the small set of bells on a bow, around my kitten’s neck. Tiny jingling as she trails around underfoot.

This year proved challenging for all of us. Externally, as well as internally. With a heart attack and a triple bipass surgery. The loss of a well paying job. A serious job suspension, served twice. And a car that keeps dying despite multiple auto mechanics saying they can’t find anything wrong. 

I suppose the holiday blessing isnt in the gifts or the decorations or the music played around every corner. The blessing is just us. We can all be together, happy (ish) and healthy.

Sick Day – 4ish

Another early morning. Frost on the cars and thick fog blankets the streets. We are surprisingly efficient this morning. We head down into town for a quality cup of coffee. The kind where the baristas weigh the grounds before pouring a shot. And for a monday morning, its pretty hoppin’.

I watch the main barista, the image of a PNW hippie, with his wool sweater and dark beanie. He bounces around behind the counter taking orders and shmearing bagles. He smiles the whole time. How wonderful to have so much pride and love for your job.

Aside from the two baristas and myself, I realize everyone else is twice my age. A sea of grey and white hair, sipping coffees and chewing bagles. Some of them stare deeply into their phones, others engage in gossipy conversation. Everyone seems local, familiar with the barista named Patty. Its cold out, and they all wear their name label puff jackets and thick raincoats. You’d rarely see anything less up here. My own no-name, black cotton button up is tucked under the table. Its loud, and echoy in there, the sound of the music long drowned out. A phone rings loudly, and I watch as men feel their pockets, some lift their phones off the table to check them, women dig in their purses, or hold them closer to their ears, only to put them back when they realize if wasn’t theirs. 

The barista still bounces around behind the counter. The steady stream of people coming in doesn’t slow. We eventually finish our own cups, and abandon our seats for the cold outside. The fog is beginning to thin, and the sun is coming out.

Sick Day – day 3

We slept in.. I woke to silence in the house, save for my mother’s deep breathing down the hall. There was no 60’s music and espresso steaming from below. I rolled out of bed and padded downstairs to let my fur sister outside. I found the decaf coffee and pulled out the espresso machine from under the cupboards to start a cup for my mother..

When I finally hopped into the shower, I began reflecting on the fact that everything happened 8 years ago. People fell in love. People moved. Cats were adopted. Lives changed. Eight years ago, I chose to go Right instead of Left. I dropped out of college and moved to a town where I knew all of 3 people. And I’ve been here ever since. This town where I felt aching love for the first time, where I lost my virginity, and where I felt soul crushing heart break for the first time. This town where I got my first job caregiving. Where I smoked a joint for the first time, and was fired from a job for the first time. This town where I made some of the greatest friends, and lost some even greater ones. This town I found a life in. I worked my way from low paying caregiver, up to certified CNA2 in the local hospital. I started out living in a house with 4 other girls, to soundly living by myself. I started out afraid of being alone, to discovering I’m strong enough to be alone..

This town sucked me into its miasma, and I lost myself. I wonder how my life might have been different had I chosen to go Left instead of Right. Had I not chosen the more romantic and edgy option. Where would I be right now? 

Mom and I drive for 45 minutes to get dockside. The fishing boat bobs up and down as she buys boxes of fish. The sun is out, but the chill still bites my nose..

I think about leaving. About packing up and getting out of dodge. Leaving the perfectly sized apartment I found. Leaving the perfectly suited job I have. Leaving the ones who make me feel seen. The intern who asked why the Rose Fire seemed dimmer than normal. The co-worker who caught sight of me yawn and stretch, and blush slightly when he said it might have been the most adorable thing he’d seen. The friend who frantically worried about me when I accidentally slept in til 4pm and hadn’t heard from me. The baristas who know my coffee order as “what Rose gets.” The doctor who routinely encourages me to further my career. The friends who continually tell me to write. And the friends who tell me that my absence would be felt if I left..

I think about it..

I lay on the couch, fur sister under foot, Thumbs at my shoulder. Mother is finishing laundry, and making soup. We are getting by. Tomorrow we will probably sleep in again.

Sick Day – day 2

Its hard to gather my thoughts together, as I lay here on the couch staring into the fireplace. We spent 5 long hours on the road to say goodbye to my father. I watched him roll his bag down the ramp and around the corner, his destination: The Motherland, perhaps to say goodbye to his own mother. My last grandparent, laying in bed, fading away.

He is going by himself, a short trip, and I wonder if it will be burned into my memory like when he went over when my grandfather passed. He went alone then. I remember laying on the ungodly 70s couch in the livingroom, watching a daytime marathon of the first season of Alias. I would follow the show all the way until the last season. Which is typical of me, I can’t finish anything. I remember rolling off the couch and hugging my father goodbye, perhaps disgruntled to have my marathon interrupted. After all, I didn’t have many memories if my grandfather. Snapshots. Me watching him roll his own tight cigarettes in the darkened diningroom. Him yelling at me to stop playing with the hose. The fear I had after he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that he wouldn’t know who I was, but the fear melted away when he saw me. Recognition lit his eyes and he smiled and called me Little Love. And shortly my father returned, he had presents in tow. He had found various Manga for me. All of which, I still have. One of which became one of my favorite series.

But thats how it is for me. I’m never there when my family members pass. I simply have odd memories of when it happens. Having to stay at my best friend’s house while my mother and father both flew to Seattle when my first grandparent passed. It was the middle of indoor soccer season and I was getting ready for an evening game. And perhaps it was for the best I ended up missing it. My parents weren’t there, with their pockets full of Rolos to hand me during the game. My brother and I each took turns talking with them on the phone. They cheerfully wished me good luck on my game and I passed the phone to my brother. When he hung up, he told me Grandpa had died. They hadn’t told me because I was young. I fell down and began crying. In hindsight, it feels a bit dramatic to me. I don’t remember feeling any emotion at the time. Simply that… people cry when family members pass, and so I cried..

I am staring at the fire, and wondering what is burning itself into my memories right now. Mother and I drove back in the dark and the rain, quiet. The sound of the rain on the windshield, like soft radio static. We arrived home to a dark and silent house. I put on my pajamas and curled up on the couch, my father’s usual spot. Mother sets about preparing dinner. And right about now my father would be just taking off..

Sick Day – day 1

I’d forgotten I wouldn’t be able to sleep in. After deciding to call in sick and desperately waiting around for 2 hours for someone to jump my car, I probably mistakenly, made the long, dark drive North. I was plagued with fatigue, and sinus pressure, my ears were both plugged, and at one point felt my blood sugar tank, having eaten nothing all day, and rabidly pulled into a McDonalds. I managed to finish my two burgers, fries, and shake while getting completely disoriented in the dark and lost on my way back to the highway. I pulled into my parent’s driveway at 11pm, having been awake nearly 18 hours, sick, and exhausted, and fell into bed.

I was roused at 7:30, wrapped up in blankets, and pets, and phlem, and sinus pressure. Mom offered to shut the door and let me sleep, but I valiantly rose and off we went. 

A leisurely, if rainy, morning in Sequim, WA. We were handed broken candy canes, during breakfast, by the slow walking, pipe smoking Santa. After, I watched him haul himself back into his white creeper van, and drive away. We patiently navigated shopping aisles, carefully avoiding what I like to call, The Parade of Geezers. Mom hushes me, telling me they can hear me. I give her a look and ask, “really mom? Can they?” We finally find some cold medicine and after wrestling with the packaging, I down some greatfully.

“What are you doing?” My friend texts me. “Sitting on the couch, coughing, and looking up Hoodoo books.” I respond.

I took a long nap. Waking at some point, covered in sweat and needing to pee. Its silent downstairs, and I crawl back into bed. I think about random things. The fact that I never really get sick. My life is so stressed right now. With the new kitten aka monster, and the new adventure car that has been a piece of shit since I got it, the changing dynamics of my work, the bittersweet wedding and then death last month, the failing health of my grandma, my own cancer issues… and when life’s got you down, what better answer than to give you a cold… I think about all the people who keep telling me how much money I could save if I quit drinking, like I’m some kind of chain smoker who spends hundreds of dollars a year commiting slow suicide by smoking each day. No one ever talks about how much money I could save if I quit eating food. Or how much money I could save if I quit taking showers. Well maybe think on that. And then I think about DNA testing. The answers it might provide me. And the answers it might not. “You’re Korean,” my mom laughs at me. “Am I? Am I really?” I respond. I am past 30 now, navigating thru my first life crisis, trying to figure out how to dip my toe into the water of my adoption, and am starting to face my first real health issues. As a child, calling myself a box of chocolates was cute, the mysteries of an adopted child, but now is a time when I need some answers. “Just make it simple,” my mom says, about the dreaded Letter to my Birth Mother, the key to opening the door to begin The Search. “You’re over thinking it too much,” she says. But she doesn’t understand how terrified I am. At worst, this could be the first, and the last letter I ever write to my birth mother…

I wake up again and we head out to dinner with friends. We were 15 minutes late, but thats not unusual. I order a Hot Toddy and Crab Risotto. The place is loud, and warm. And because, as is the way with loud places, we all talk louder. I’m sure the combination of cold medicine and alcohol was a questionable choice, but for the time being my sore throat and cough were abated. We asked what our friends did today, in the rain. “We went to Sequim, WA.” 

Respite – fin

Shes not tired, atleast not as tired as she should be. She finished the lime redbull ages ago. By now darkness had fallen and an odd mist was all around. She drove at a little less than a comfortable pace, but it was okay, the cars in front of her kept her honest. One cat on her lap, the other in the passenger seat. Some time ago her GPS had failed. It wasn’t that she didn’t know the way, having driven it a dozen times since last spring, but that the 280 mile journey felt a little less lonely. And though she knew the heavy clouds and fog probably had something to do with it, she half suspected her GPS was simply giving her the silent treatment from having been argued with so much on the trip up. Silent, save for every hour or so loudly chiming in with, “GPS signal lost!!” Rudely interrupting the soothing sound of Aaron Manhke’s voice, and causing her heart to jump more than it should. Aaron’s subject matter, half hour long podcast episodes of Murder and Monsters. It is her cup of tea, and driving thru the dark and the mist, provides for the perfect atmosphere.

Once darkness falls, the drive becomes dangerously monotonous. She suddenly finds herself traveling thru a wormhole. She might be flying thru a Stargate. And when the rain starts falling, and the cars in front of her begin spraying water at her, she might have been traveling thru hyperspace. Destination: Home.

And in those long, dark hours, one cat cutting off the circulation to her foot, soothing, but spooky tone of Aaron’s voice in the background, rain drops hitting the windshield, almost creating its own sound of radio static, she feels herself changing. Mentally morphing herself back to reality. When she reached the end of the wormhole, she would be back home. Back to life. Back to her every day. 

One cat suddenly sits up and begins yowling and pacing back and forth, as though awoken from a nap and not quite sure where he is. “I know buddy,” she says, rubbing his head til he settles back down, this time on her other leg, “you and me both…” He lets out a sigh. Aaron continues his story. GPS chimes in that her signal has been lost. “You never even tried,” she says, begrudgingly. But then shrugs, soon they would be home..