Yesterday I saw a friend for the first time in a long while. We stayed at a distance, fully masked, because I have some kind of not-well and it is has laid me low. I needed a test, and the services available to me were insufficient– so he drove from some distance and brought me one.
I scurried down the stairs to meet him, in my unwashed pajamas. My hair was oiled and my slippers pattered along the floor as I made my way down. If a possum were a person, I thought, this would surely be the way they did this life thing.
Sometime early in my journey home from prison, the phone I used would autocorrect promise to possum. When I had strokes many years later, these two words were among the ones I struggled most relearning. Despite changing possum to promise so many times it had become muscle memory, my brain could not see the difference anymore.
My current phone thinks I mean to say Bradley every time I type Beautiful, and I like the way my brain floods with images of the best Bradleys in the universe. Now, the word brings a different smile to my face: not one that says I am the serene witness of something lovely, but the dimpled celebrator of friends.
All day long, I have stopped myself from sending a picture of myself to the loved one who brought the testing kit to me. I want to say, do not remember the scurry and puff of me that lurked downstairs to you. Remember me well.
And beautifuls-to-Bradleys, I only mean that it has been a good long number of months since we have seen each other, and it may be several months more, and a brain can change so easily.
I only mean that we rewire each other, and ourselves. I only mean there’s a million better places in a brain to put me. I’m closer to a promise than a possum. I am closer to a dinosaur than either. And if there is a box of loved things, even if I am the least loved of them all: that is where I would most like to be.
But a month ago, when I got medicines mixed up, there was a day specifically when I would have meant: goodbye.
He was nearby then, too, but our paths did not cross and I was upset by it. Yes, because I like seeing my friends, but also– yes, because I thought I was going to be able to say goodbye. It felt like the distance between myself and that moment was a simple parking lot away except he wouldn’t get out of the car.
Later that night, when I understood myself more, I realized I needed help.
Sometimes, we rewire so easily we don’t even notice it happening.
I’ve been doing the slow kind of brain changing this time. The right meds. A good therapist. Patience. This last month has been like typing the word promise eight or nine times in a row until it stays right. Until it empties its pockets, and washes off yesterday, and welcomes the sun.
Until it plays life.
The test was negative which means I have something like a cold.
Yesterday, a friend came to bring me what I needed, and my roommate stayed up with me until the tests and other medical things were handled, and I would very much like them both to forget my red-nosed, matted-haired, wide-eyed blankness.
I don’t need anyone to think of me as an acceptable autocorrect for the word beautiful. I just think, on the scale of possums to promises, I am far closer to the promises.
After all, I am made entirely of the ones I have made to myself.