Today was bad. Well, difficult – it could have been much worse.
Long story short, I went to see my doctor for a checkup, and one question about an abnormality I was suspicious of, but which I attributed to my hypochondria. Much to my surprise, he piped up while feeling around:
“So – what are your plans for the rest of the day?”
” Um, well I was going to have lunch with my cousin?”
“That’s good – you can still have lunch,” he joked.
“But?” I could sense something was off.
” But I think it’d be good for us to get you in for an ultrasound of this today – why wait, right? – just to be sure it’s nothing.”
I was stunned. I was sure I was just being my usual crazy self. What was this – something real? Was this really happening? I stared at the speckled ceiling tiles and tried not to cry.
My voice sounded like a nine year old’s. This was not good.
(And it turned out fine – but I wasn’t to know that for another three hours.)
So I found myself an hour later, sitting on a table, slowly wiping gel from my skin with rough paper towels, pulling the thin gown closer around me in the overly air-conditioned exam room, waiting for the ultrasound technician to come back in and tell me what’s what. I was thinking of everything and nothing all at once, acutely aware of the scratching of the paper and the slipperiness of the gel, and also feeling disconnected from the whole scene, the room, my body, time, as my mind raced ahead. What if I had cancer? What would I do? Literally, what would I do that afternoon? Would I go get a drink at a bar by myself in the middle of the afternoon? Would I go sit on my aunt’s sofa wrapped in her mink blanket and cry? Would I go to H&M and pretend nothing was wrong? Who would I call? What would happen tomorrow? What would the next few weeks look like? What would this year be? Who would I meet, what would I cancel, how would it feel, what would it cost?
As someone who is terrified of her own body and is constantly convinced that different organs and appendages are conspiring to kill me in various creative ways from the inside out, I’ve thought before of what I would do if I became sick. But never had the thoughts crossed my mind while sitting in an exam room where I’d been rushed to “get something checked out immediately.” Never for real.
I started to think to myself – what would I want to spend my time doing, if this is true? What would become my priorities?
I was shocked at the two things that came to mind immediately:
Writing a book
I thought it would be traveling to see new parts of the world, or spending time with family. But no – it was having children, and writing a book. I suddenly became terrified that for one reason or another, these things wouldn’t be possible. I didn’t know they were so important to me. I stared at the fleur de lis imprinted in the cloth wallpaper, over and over and over, wrapping up the room in embossings. I chewed on this new development, and continued to plot for the worst, and at the same time my mind felt somehow empty.
Then the technician came in and said everything looked fine, and I was free to go.
It was difficult to come back to reality. I was thrilled but disoriented. I suddenly realized I was hungry, and had to find my insurance card in a flutter of receipts in my wallet, and checked my phone for voice messages. I could go on with my day like none of this happened. Everything seemed silly – my worries, the minutiae of the rest of my day, all of it. But I paid, got in a taxi, ordered a complicated Starbucks drink – in short, went on like nothing happened.
But it haunted me, and still does as I get ready for the evening and look forward to this day’s end: having children, and writing a book. Having children, and writing a book.
To be clear, it’s the latter that is haunting me; I knew I want children – the intensity of that desire certainly took me by surprise, but I knew that it was a sometime=in-the-near-future thought I was having. But the book? That was a surprise. My utter despair at thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do it, for one reason or another, shocked me.
But I can’t even get it together to write a blog everyday. How could I write a book?
On the other hand, I already know what it would be about.
But when would I do this? And how? And why? What if I wrote a book and nobody read it – would I really be satisfied with that? I’d like to believe I would be, but I don’t know if I’m that evolved.
On the other hand . . .
I enter this weekend with this weighing on my mind. I feel like this is something I should heed, but my inability to even write here consistently makes me feel defeated before I even start.
What should I do?
Regardless, here’s to your health – and mine, if I may! – as shabbat begins. See you on Monday (fingers crossed)!