7. I have come to love kiwis and blueberries
The fruit and the vegetables doled out here have, on the whole, been marinated, syruped, or canned. My passion for fried foods and sweet things aside, in my usual life at home with the D – where we can eat exactly what we want – god I can’t WAIT -I eat healthily, and not because I am supposed to get down my five a day like some kind of nutritional duty but because I just love, love, love, love, fresh fruit and vegetables and always have. All of it. With no exceptions. Weekend late brunches chez nous are usually compromised of a big plate of fresh, crunchy salad vegetables, cheese, bread, mayonnaise, fruit, yoghurt and coffee. Oh how I miss it.
But among the moistened, wetted vegetables and weird, soiled, fermentedness, there is, on occasion, a whole, cut green kiwi fruit: and in my happy nutritional derangement I almost exclaim in pleasure each time that there is.
Usually, these strange hairy fruits I find slightly lacking in character. Like blueberries ( Duncan’s favourite ) they are less distinctive and ‘of themselves’, say, than strawberries, oranges,or pineapple (not only my favourite fruit of all, but possibly my favourite food in the world).
It’s all about context though. Compared to the dull, gerontophile slop served from the kitchen that I have been eating every mealtime for fifty five days in a row, the kiwi – a rare moment of respite, so tart, so vitaminized and green; the blueberries frequently brought in by Duncan: so small and economical and packed with purple goodness; along with the cut, fresh pineapple and dekopon oranges (heaven!) all just remind me that simple, and natural – not boiled and souped and mutated by cooks in transparent latex finger gloves toiling away in the underground kitchens – is the best.
8. The heart, both physically and emotionally, can be controlled
My family has a tendency towards high blood pressure. As do I. But I have always felt that the blood pressure reader itself raises the level of my pulse, because the constricting sensation and that taut, pulsing vein contraction as the pneumatic sleeve puffs up and presses down pinchingly, and painfully, on your pulsating blood vessels is unacceptable. I HATE it. It makes me panic. I find injections easier.
Thus, though not disputing that my furious, aortic pushings might be elevated, -particularly with all the coffee that I drink, because I love it – I have often wondered if it might not be the case that anxiety, and hatred of that evil pressing armband, might be at least part of the reason for my unhealthy readings.
One morning, I decided to consciously try to relax. Breathe more slowly. Make my heartbeat slower ( I was also enjoying the conversation with one of the nurses so that took my mind of things, a little.)And lo and behold, my heart wasn’t palpitating, I was hardly aware of it, and my blood pressure rate was close to normal- and quite healthy.
This might not seem especially miraculous to you – it might seem obvious, in fact,but it got me thinking about the fact that although sometimes we can’t get a grip on ourselves, and can, in moments of panic, just let our heart beat faster and faster until it feels as though it were going to burst, in fact, you literally can, through conscious effort, slow, it, down. I could FEEL it slowing. And it WAS slowing. I could see and hear it on the heart meter.
And this must be what the yogis in the Indian mountains do, where they exist for weeks at a time without food or water. Or winter crocodiles, who can bury themselves deep under the sands in the desert and hibernate, slowing their heart rates to just a handful of beats per minute, and sleep throughout those nocturnal months, slowed to a whisper, their heavy bodies still, and silent.
It is often said that you can’t control who you fall in love with. And it is true. Unless your wellbeing or dignity or something precious is actually threatened, when it’s then time to most definitely ‘get a grip’ and become rational.
While sexually, in terms of sheer, raw attractiveness – just physicality, I have extremely wide ranging appreciations across age groups, types, and nationalities, it is extremely rare for me in my lifetime, in the past, and especially now, to develop a real, proper, crush on another person; almost impossible, even. I am incredibly picky. About everything. And smell especially. I am put off extremely quickly. I am the opposite of an orgiast.
When this has happened ( in the last twenty five years or so, less than a handful of times), I have never acted on it. There were possibilities, but I resisted.
Firstly, I am not going to jeopardize what I have. I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have found a person who complements me in this way. I don’t think I would ever find it again.
Secondly, I have always been able to see the slight infatuation for just what it is – a ‘crush’ ( such a good word I think, even if it might seem a bit age-inappropriate when referring to myself): that rejuvenating, almost chest-tightening feeling of being almost subjugated by your feelings for this new person, when it hits you out of the blue – exciting, yes ( it certainly helped with my healing process, as a kind of happy, human diversion, and something to look forward to each day).
But I hate the feeling of the losing, the loosening of control. There can be a pathetic desperation to it: when you hear yourself talk the way you talk, and the way you look into each other’s eyes, particularly when it is with a person, whose orientation you do not know because you would never ask, and who is a Gemini, so is impossible to see through anyway, and who is precisely half your age.
These ridiculous, if pleasureable, hallucinations just had to be stopped in their tracks. And so they were.
In my defense, a traumatic surgery, a long confinement; anxiety, and pain, will sometimes do things to a man when he is vulnerable, and if the person who is responsible for putting you on the road to recovery each day is not only very capable, intuitive, professional, supportive and kind, but also very gentle ( the one linking factor in all of my relationships or temporary fixations- I have enough aggression and volatility for two, and will only fall for goodness ); has eyes that draw you in deeply like a deer drinking at a forest pool; smells lovely to boot, as he is manipulating your body into wellness each afternoon – then you know that you have a recipe for trouble.
Fortunately, as my feelings began to go beyond my comfort threshold, taking up rather too much a part of my mental processes, my sterner, more rational self took over.
This will not do, it said.
And so, after one triumphant breakthrough or another – even the smallest improvements feel like exuberant milestones when you haven’t been able to move, and a walk together around the hospital garden on a beautiful spring day, well, that was the final goal of the therapy, and the ticket out of here.
Afterwards, he led me back to my room, as usual, and in gratitude I spontaneously decided to hug him,
And then I realized : suddenly, that it was all in my head ( though it did to me feel mutual, and I think possibly was); but still a traitorous diversion, a way to pass the time; innocent as courtly love, and with no transgressions, but also almost undignified, impossible: unseemly.