The Layers of You (3)

Today I can feel myself getting better. I hope I can sleep tonight. I don’t think I’ve had the stomach flu since I was a child. I have a hard time believing it now, even after three nights of little sleep. And being who I am, I can’t help but wonder. Why did I get sick? How did I catch it? I think of the blackberries I bought at the farmer’s market. They looked dark and succulent. I was disappointed when I pulled them out of the narrow cardboard flat where they nestled with the two baskets of strawberries. What a gyp, I thought, seeing how shallow their container was, a third of the depth of the box, if that. I ate one unwashed. It was sour. They were all sour. But did I allow in that snatch of thought, that maybe they were unclean? Is that why I got sick, because I didn’t banish the thought? Is that how I got sick, from someone with this crummy flu packing blackberries? Or was I vulnerable because of my intense day of writing last week with Laurie, over six hours of writing and reading our work, and the stunning voicemail waiting for me when I got home that evening? Or even better, did I get sick to somehow mark my transition to the next thing? My spring break felt like a passage in itself, this accidental holiday filled with big days. Semana Santa. Passover. The lunar eclipse. April 18th. Then our big writing day embedded in the heart of it. Was having the flu a way to mark the changes, the ending of my big week, to begin again anew? A cleansing, both the figurative and the literal, the universe’s odd sense of humor? Because there is something unmistakable about recovering from even so brief an illness. A sense of returning to yourself, the adding on of layers that were stripped away, until you feel like yourself again but not quite the same, as though the layers were placed back at different angles, or as if they stretched or shrank in the peeling off process. Today I wriggle in my new skin. I hope tomorrow I wake up fully me.

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