Monday, September 3, 2018

Home and heart

I see myself a child running through the trees
Looking everywhere crawling on my knees
Searching for myself, looking for my life
I cannot see the leaves, I cannot see the light.

On our way home from the airport after our recent trip, as we reached our freeway exit, Neil asked me if it felt like coming home.

I said it did.

In about three weeks we will have lived here for a year.

And in most ways it has become home. I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent unpacked or that we've hung many pictures on the walls. But we are pretty settled now. The days of furniture shopping are behind us. No more regular runs to IKEA, no more stops at the consignment shops, no more trips to Pineville or Hickory.

No more perusing pages and pages of rugs online,

No more tears.

It's hard to believe now how many, many tears I shed, those last months before we moved, those first months in North Carolina.

It's just my life now.

And yet, there are aspects to it that feel more like we're on vacation. Sitting on our screened patio, looking out over the back yard and the rain garden and little wooded area beyond it, I feel like it's some sort of idyll.

The deer have come back. We've seen them quite often again, a little group of three usually, maybe the same ones, maybe new ones.

The house still has that new house smell, and it's even more noticeable after a few days away.

The year has gone by so quickly. The days fly as well. I drift through them, dreamlike.

Yet at times I feel adrift. It's as though I'm not anchored in the world. I'm happy, I like being where I am. But I'm not really connected to this place.

I'm not connected to any place really.

I'm connected to Neil, and to my children, and to my grandchild. They are more home for me than any geographic location.

Although I lived in Texas for the longest time that I'm likely to live in any one place, I was never "from" Texas. When people asked, I always said I was from New York. I was just living in Texas.

Having just come back from New York, I have to admit I'm not sure I'm really from New York any more.

There is a TED talk that I watched for one of my online Colgate classes that made an impression on me. It is called "Where is Home" and it's given by Pico Iyer, a travel writer of Indian descent, born in England and living in the USA.

The gist of the talk is that most people have many homes. There is "one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place where they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more beside."

Iyer also says that "Where you come from now is much less important than where you're going." And that "home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It's the place where you stand."

So probably what I need to do is to stop wondering where my home is, or worrying that no place is home, and start thinking more about where I'm going and where I want to go. Where I want to stand, what I want to stand for.

Then again, it's so much easier to just drift.

I'm not complaining. I feel very privileged to be able to do just that. Drift.

I worked hard enough for long enough, didn't I? God knows, I spent enough time fighting a war with my own neurotransmitters, years of therapy and drug reactions and side effects and white knuckles and dysfunctional relationships and self-doubt.

Nothing is permanent. Life can go from bad to good, great even, but you must take nothing for granted. Anything can be taken away away in a heartbeat.

I tried to explain this to my new doctor recently. She had me make an appointment before she would renew my anxiety medication, the same medication at the same dose that I've been taking for the last 15 years, give or take.

We spent something like half an hour debating the question of why I should keep taking the medication (me) or why I should taper off it (she).

She said in older people, the medication could make them unsteady on their feet, which might result in a fall, a broken hip. She also said that in older people, it could reduce cognitive ability.

I said that I am steady on my feet, strong, supple, and relatively flexible. I said my mental clarity was fine, thank you very much. I said, can we just cross that bridge when we come to it?

She looked at me like I was an alien. She said, you don't want to take more medicine than you need. She asked me when I visualized myself getting off this medication.

I said, I think it will be when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

She didn't laugh, but she may have smiled.

In the end, she wrote me another 3 months supply. She wrote it for 5 pills less per month, 55 tablets instead of 60, so that at least 10 days of the month I'd take a half dose for my second dose.


I can usually refill my prescriptions a few days early.

And I'm taking a half dose already at bedtime. I didn't tell her that though.

If she won't keep refilling this med, I will probably have to go see a med management specialist. One who I predict will laugh and write me 90-day mail order refills and say, see you in six months. And not try to give me an object lesson about it.

The kicker is that, after this overlong, awkward conversation, my doctor decided to listen to my heart. And then said she heard a heart murmur.

It's the first I've heard of that.

I think it's more likely that I was agitated by the medication discussion. I doubt there's anything wrong with my heart. I have no symptoms, no shortness of breath, no cough, no swelling or sudden weight gain, nor loss of appetite, no sweating, chest pain, dizziness, or faintness.

I think I am healthy as a horse - a healthy horse.

But I get to go back in a month so my doctor can have another listen. If she hears a murmur then, I will have to schedule an echocardiogram, an electrocardiogram, or both.

I think there is better than a 50/50 chance that my heart will sound fine next time. And if it still murmurs, then I predict it will be an innocent murmur, i.e., harmless, and require no treatment.

Time - and possibly tests - will tell.

You have many houses, one for every season
Mountains in your windows, violets in your hands
Through your English meadows your blue-eyed horses wander
You're in Colorado for the spring

When the winter finds you, you fly to where it's summer
Rooms that face the ocean, moonlight on your bed
Mermaids swift as dolphins paint the air with diamonds
You are like a seagull as you said

Why do you fly bright feathered sometimes in my dreams?

The shadows of your wings fall over my face
I can feel no air, I can find no peace
Brides in black ribbons, witches in white
Fly in through windows, fly out through the night

Why do I think I'm dying sometimes in my dreams?

I see myself a child running through the trees
Looking everywhere crawling on my knees
Searching for myself, looking for my life
I cannot see the leaves, I cannot see the light

Then I see you walking just beyond the forest
Walking very quickly, walking by yourself
Your shoes are silver, your coat is made of velvet
Your eyes are shining, your voice is sweet and clear

Come on, you say, come with me, I'm going to the castle
All the bells are ringing, the weddings have begun
But I can only stand here, I cannot move to follow
I'm burning in the shadows and freezing in the sun

There are people with you, living in your houses
People from your childhood who remember how you were
You were always flying, nightingale of sorrow
Singing bird with rainbows on your wings.

(Judy Collins © Universal Music Publishing Group)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz