I had big plans for this day. My husband’s sunning himself in Costa Rica (when he’s not being rained on by the rain that only happens in the jungle; the kind of rain that, when it hits you, feels like it’s landing a blow, like it’s exacting revenge); I’d looked forward to a good urban wander punctuated by lunching and reading, lazy chair-shopping, more eating and reading, book-shopping, coffee, more food and books, and etc until it was time to come home and sleep like the sort of well-fed, sleek, educated, nouveau lower middle-class lady who enjoys fat, sleek yet proper pleasures that I am.
But, as disaster of some sort tends to strike in a way that keeps me locked in a terrible embrace with my own home anytime my Darling leaves me alone with it, I’ve been struck down with a cold. Last year, it was much more dramatic and dangerous: he went to Mexico for a friend’s wedding and the pipes immediately froze; I spent fully 24 hours standing hunched over some furniture too heavy to move aiming a blow dryer at the frozen pipe in the front wall of the Basement of Bad Dreams.
I just have a basic cold, I think, but I’m remembering just now that that’s bad enough. I am fuzzy and cough-y with a strange urge to whine and whimper like it’s 1980; except for the electrical pain radiating out of my lower back and down into my right hip and leg, I feel as though my bones and flesh are becoming less certain of themselves—that if you took a photo of me, I’d looked a little faded and you’d be able to see the bookcases and lamp behind me shining faintly through.
I need to leave the house, though, I really do. Because it is Farch, which is by far the cruelest month no matter what T.S. may have told you to the contrary, it is snowing at one of those very rare moments when I don’t feel equal to pushing a giant shovel through snow along the sidewalk. More importantly, I need to get Soph-Soph’s dinner.
And, of course, I also need to provision myself with a delicious winter illness survival kit; depending on how I feel when I return from this outing, which I can currently only barely imagine actually doing, I may mix up into one single terrifying tea the oil of oregano, xs Tylenol, lozenges, a cold med that doesn’t include either alcohol or pseudephedrine (the latter makes me jump and twitch like a poor junky in withdrawal), garlic, apples, and the week’s worth of hummus and chips that are on my list.
I have not left the house yet today and it is well into the afternoon; in fact, it almost evening. I spent this morning magnifying my sense of having inadequate access to oxygen by finishing Zola’s Germinal. I then remained in that increasingly unaccommodating sofa chair, choking back some oatmeal I had the prophetic good sense to bake two days ago, reading some essays by Virginia Woolf and thinking she might have just become the love of my literary life. Like her one-time lover Vita Sackville-West, I am promiscuously unashamed of having several such lovers—for there’s no way I’m giving up Hilary Mantel. But Woolf, Woolf! How did I not know? I read Orlando when I was very young and thought it was shite and maybe it was; but I was very young and maybe I would not think so now. In any case, I have a great deal of Woolf to wind myself up in and that makes me feel unspeakably happy and very romantic.
Speaking of which (happy, etc), while I was lying in bed just now in the sort of half-sleep, half-trance that only happens when you have a cold and are too enervated to stay awake and sit upright but also too uncomfortable to go fully and blessedly to sleep, I was daydreaming about all the book-shopping I wasn’t doing and thinking quite cheerfully about how we’re going to have to find space for another bookcase in our little house anyway, and that led me contentedly into imagining myself dusting and rearranging the bookshelves we do have. Indeed, I thought about trying to force myself out of bed to do that very thing at that very moment for, while I am still wild in my own way and grew up practicing the fine interrelated arts of thuggery and skulduggery, one of my favourite activities now is caring for and coddling my little home library.
Mr. Kevin over at Interpolations once asked me if I ever kissed my books; or maybe he told me he kissed his own. Not kissing with tongues, you strange, strange person: a sweet peck full of respect and holy admiration. Yes, I do this; I do this when dusting my shelves and when reading particularly fine bits of writing; Woolf got at least one shy but ardent kiss on the cheek today, of course. Now, I really must find the energy to get that shopping done, so I can get back to my reading and dusting and alphabetizing.
Well, maybe after another nap; everything hurts.