Twelve years ago, I caught a cold that wouldn’t go away. The runny nose left me dehydrated and exhausted and was accompanied by sneezes so powerful my eyes would explode in volcanos of mascara’ed saltiness sending twin rivers of black gook oozing down my face.
“Are you okay, Miss Amy?” the concerned kindergarten students I worked with would ask, confusing (perhaps) my red, runny eyes and smeared makeup for the tears of emotions. And I would pat their arm, and tell them, “Yes; I’m alright,” even as we both knew I must be lying because all they had to do was look at me.
Things obv weren’t alright.
Then it got worse.
The congestion—in what I initially thought was it’s big finish—clogged up my sinuses to the point that I became unable to hear their 5 and 6 year old voices. They would ask me for help with their math or sounding out a word, and I’d have to turn their head to face me so I could read their lips as they repeated their question. The snot had made me hearing-impaired. My cold was a disability.
One week later, I saw a doctor who was so professional she managed to leave the “omfg you dipshit” off of “You don’t have a cold; you have allergies,” and—within two weeks—I’d beaten back the mucous invasion courtesy of Big Pharma.
For some weird reason, these allergies had gestated for 40 years–never once making an appearance—but now every year hence arrive with a ground swell requiring tsunami sirens.
My mom lived with year-round allergy symptoms courtesy of an exceptionally sensitive nose.
She always had a tissue with her—always; usually near her wrist tucked up inside her sleeve —and in typical humor, classified these tissues according to their level of degradation.
Stage 1: new
Stage 2: used once; no rips, barely crumpled
Stage 3: used more than once; ripped, starting to shred
Stage 4: intact only because of the glue-like properties of snot
Her tissues would often engage my gag reflex, and watching her blow her nose into a Stage 4 was like looking into the shit-abyss of a Port-O-John.
Inevitably, Mom’s intimate experience with allergies led to a desensitization about the etiquette of mucous management, to the point where her public persona often involved honking into her tissue using an uncompromising dual-alternating-nostrils-at-full-force technique akin to trumpeting the arrival of the snot queen. The volume involved in this expulsion indicated base tones of an underlying “fuck this fucking fucking shit” and when she’d reach into her sleeve to pull out a Kleenex, I would restrain the impulse to walk off—loyal as I was—while viscous nasal belongings were gathered up into a decaying tissue right across the table from me at Taco Bell.
11/3/2020. They’re back. I haven’t had allergies for several years—don’t know why they’re even back in November of all months—but the volcanoes, mascara rivers, itchy nose, clear snot (eyes that suddenly burst open with tears, along with the continuous urge to sneeze—while not actually sneezing, requiring me to blow my noise just to have some sense of a climax) are all back. How tf can I board the Trump Train looking like this? I can’t. I just can’t. I’m very devastated.
And today is Election Day. And I don’t know who needs to hear this but you’re stronger than you believe and are much much more than the sum of “all this”. Our brains are masterful creators—seamlessly making stories both real and not—but our body/breath can medicate it when it gets too frantic. Thoughts and worries aren’t themselves real; thoughts/worries are “over there” rather than “here,” we just convince ourselves otherwise. I once read that if the sun were to explode none of us would even know for 8 whole minutes because that’s how long it takes for the sun’s light to reach us on the surface of our planet. We’d go on living our lives not knowing anything had happened since everything we see in front of us right this second is actually via the light from the past sun. Over there vs here.
I had a dream about my mom last night. I never dream about my mom but this was something I was supposed to remember and write down. In the dream, I’d been doing some errand and Just finished and came into a large kind of crowded room, making a beeline for my mom, believing she’d be happy to see me. But she wasn’t. She was angry at me, cold—wouldn’t look at or speak to me—and in the dream I knew that there wasn’t any reason for it except for her own pain and trauma yet I knew it was bullshit for me not to say “this is bullshit.” So I spoke up really loudly to this crowd of people I didn’t know and made a speech thanking them for being the America I needed to rise above such redirected aggression and when I finished everyone clapped, some people clapping loudly for a long time.
Anyways, take care, whatever the day/week brings make sure to breathe yourself back to life and thank you for being the America I needed.
(Artistic representation of misery and allergies courtesy of my recent accidental purchase of Prisma).