It is a common mockery of older people that they lose track of the day of the week. Understandably when one no longer has a schedule to conform to nor an agenda to observe, the confusion is rife. There is however one barometer by which I can be assured to judge my present circumstances – my inclination to write. There is almost nothing other than physical impossibility which impedes my yearning to write. When however that impulse lapses – as it recently has – it is equally certain that I am ill.
For the past five days I have been down with a horrid cold. The affliction began in the usual way with sniffles, watery eyes and tightness in the chest. It subsequently graduated to a complete assault upon my entire system, headache, constant nose-blowing and hacking. Initially I tried in vain to defeat the symptoms by taking a combination of decongestants, cough medicine and pain killers. There has also been a regular production of hot water with fresh-squeezed lemon (which of all the medications has probably been the most relieving). Largely the drugs were of little avail other than to distort my internal organs and mental balance. The first night I had the most obnoxious dreams involving the revolving defeat of whatever it was I was attempting to accomplish in the dream. Last night the cough medicine seemed to knock me out for at least five hours of undisturbed sleep but not without the repercussion of a dreadful state of dryness. Throughout the malady I have been physically drained, void of energy, exhausted by the slightest activity. And I certainly have had no inclination whatsoever to write, in fact almost a revolt at the thought of doing so, much like my contemporaneous abhorrence of food.
As you have no doubt deduced from the evidence of this manuscript my temporary abatement has been overruled. After having succumbed this afternoon to the lure of my downy lair and having slept relatively peacefully for a couple of hours, I am beginning to recapture life as a human being. I might add that this submission to the persuasion of the cold was a triumph not readily conceded. Years and years of conviction that my personality depends entirely upon its perpetual expression (whether professionally, artistically or socially) has hardened me as one who must always be in motion one way or the other. To surrender to idleness is a competition of reason and need of Olympic proportion. Nonetheless I capitulated at last to the call of my weakened frame for recovery and it appears to have paid off.
This happy conclusion was not however accomplished without a wrangle. Yesterday I had been asked by friends to visit their little dog Max while they traveled to Beaufort for the day. They advised they expected to be gone between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Accordingly I agreed to take Max for a walk at noon. The night before this rendezvous I began to fret whether I would be prepared as promised. Having a date for anything other than a medical appointment or a haircut is highly unusual and it carries with it a special onus when it involves the affairs of others. I even set the alarm on my iPhone to remind me to get out of bed and bathed by noon. Of course my anxiety was needless; I was awake that morning around eight o’clock as normal. But it was a labour to get myself prepared for the outing. What little strength remained was consumed by the least effort. I did however put on my best face and under the pretence of athleticism cycled to Max’ house which is thankfully nearby.
Immediately upon connecting with Max I naturally felt improved. He has that boundless affection for which his species is renowned and it worked upon me to considerable advantage. We did not immediately charge into the out-of-doors. Instead there was a preliminary amble at the garden by the front door to permit him to void his bladder then we returned to the drawing room to listen to the music which his owners had thoughtfully left playing for him. We sat on the sofa together, nudging one another, me talking in silly baby language as though there were a complete understanding between us. When that convention was fulfilled, we prepared ourselves for a walk. It required some convincing on my part to get Max to allow me to fasten his collar and lead but it happened. We headed across South Sea Pines Drive through Tower Beach to the Ocean. It wasn’t long before I felt the weight of my obligation. I was wearing a silk scarf beneath my woollen cardigan. The little bit of exercise caused me to feel exceedingly warm. Max appeared to enjoy the feel of the fine sand beneath his paws. He wasn’t as enthusiastic as I thought he might have been to reach the watery shore so we just wandered along the beach a reasonable distance from the water. A large pelican flew by, skimming the water like a dart.
By the time I returned Max to his house and exchanged the customary fond farewells, got onto my bike and rode home myself, I was pretty much at an end. The minor enterprise had reduced my resources to nil. But my submission to the effects of my cold was to be delayed further. I agreed to chauffeur His Lordship to the office of the estate agent to collect a parcel and afterwards to buy some groceries. Though I did nothing more than drive the car, just sitting in it between stops, my capacity was so painfully waning that it was all I could do to propel myself to the apartment afterwards and get through a very desirable and fortifying dinner. But then it was to bed with my platoon of drugs. We wisely agreed that it was not necessary on the morrow to observe our regular breakfast at Low Country Produce & Café. And a good thing because I ended sleeping until after ten o’clock this morning.
Fortified by the resolve to avoid unnecessary commitments today, I dedicated myself instead to capitulation to whatever constraint might overwhelm me. After a prolonged breakfast of fresh fruit and hot lemon juice, I reclaimed my lair for a pleasant afternoon snooze. This evening I appear to be making some advances against the infirmity. By odd coincidence it is New Year’s Eve, hardly a time for social reluctance. But we haven’t anything planned other than a healthful meal and perhaps a movie on TV afterwards. I am now at least fit enough to amuse myself by pondering what others may be doing this New Year’s Eve, including my sister and her beloved husband who are enjoying a catered seafood meal of oysters, shrimp and poached lobster among other delicacies. No doubt the younger set will be revelling until the early hours of the morning. Frankly I can’t recall the last time I did that. Nor am I at all wistful. We have just seen the sun set as a flaming red streak across the horizon of the Ocean for the last time this year. No doubt it heralds the dawn of a new and refreshing morning!