Smelling the salt air wafting off the horizon, I breathed in fully as I opened the car windows to maximize the effect on my senses.
A winter of patience
How Would I Feel
The Passage of Time
The winter had long ago said its farewell, and though I love its coat and the new world it creates each year, PLS does not. Winter exacerbates the effects and symptoms of PLS on my body. The physical environment the season creates, while beautiful and transportive, heightens the risk of simple, everyday tasks for me just as a rising tide elevates all boats. I was eager to get in the water. Would I be able to swim? How about run in place with good leg speed? How long would I be able to last in the cool water before my body starts to shiver and I need to quickly summon help to get out? Would I be able to breathe with enough rhythm to allow me to string together 10, 20, or 30 strokes of the freestyle? Would it feel like it did last summer and the ones before that? There had been a lot of change over the past few years. Would I be able to stop time and shed PLS at the ocean's edge as I had envisioned it-- disrobing myself of the PLS blanket that falls to the sand as I enter the comfort zone of the cobalt saltwater...
I've become hyper-aware of physical sensations-- stiffness, tightness, speech, reflexes, typing, writing, dexterity, walking, moving. For example today, for the first time in so long, I am speaking really well; I mean, like, I almost feel like my speech is normal! IRL! I've been talking out loud a bit just to try it out and hear my voice, which feels totally different than it has felt for weeks. I digress, but I'll savor the moment that has come to me. I've come to realize that sometimes life is about those moments. Recently it has felt like pulling a foot out of quicksand to get a word out of my mouth...I was eager to feel the water.
Kim escorted me to the water's edge. I coaxed her in further than she wanted to go, to the point at which I reluctantly (and she gladly! jk) let go of her hand-- the point at which I could fall and not be hurt physically, which is about knee-deep.
Free of the blanket
Free at last
To Lose it
Into the Water
And then it happened. Like a seesaw, down went the PLS as my spirit began to take flight with every step I forged-- the chill of the ocean no longer a factor. And then, with one forward-leaning trust-fall, I left PLS behind, submerging myself into the deep, navy ocean.
And AWARE. I can run. I can run in place. Vigorously. Once again I am working out and running and playing on a field. I can throw a baseball or a football with Kara, Alexa and Luke. I can hit a tennis ball; shoot a baseball; kick a soccer ball. In that moment, anything was possible! Out of breath, the endorphins return. "This is what I'm talkin' about! Yeh!", I yelled. I had found the place...or just one of the places, one of the many places, I believe, where I am at peace; I am me; I am alone but at once surrounded by the love of family and friends and perfect strangers; I am in the perfect place; nothing can harm me; there is no time; perfect balance and movement; joy. I am home...
Everything has a time and a place. And this would be no different. My body let me know with a sense of urgency that we had had our time. The chill quickly crept in, and the fluidity of movement fell into steep decline. The message was clear: Get out quickly. Kim escorted me as I struggled to shore, and I self-consciously wondered what the sun-bathers were thinking of me. I stopped myself short, reminding myself of Ralph Waldo Emerson's words from 'Self Reliance':
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think."
I've always loved that line...
And so, my moment in that place I call home ends...until the next time. For there will be a next time, and a time after that and a time after that and so on...until there isn't. Faith, however, will outlast the last time; that is what I know. That is faith. That is FAITH.