• Pam Newton

My Summer Trip or Tripping

I am happy for all my friends and family members. They have bad things happen too, after all, and I just want to focus on their stories, photos and videotapes, take general delight in their recuperations and summer plans. They are luxuriating in exotic adventures this June and July and August that I have only dreamed of. Good for them.


I even had to cancel a trip to Concord for a crown prep. No princess time in my world. Mostly, we all need some cheering up, I tell myself. I repeat this, talking to myself out loud. The resentment, the sheer jealousy that runs underground is a smaller side of my total experience, I hope.

My brother and his wife just got back from a 9-day motorcycle jaunt to Utah, “the trip of their life.” Nanri spent a silent weekend in NH at a Buddhist retreat center, welcoming in the next decade of her, and Elizabeth plans to leave for France in August. Matt and Heather have just left their new home in the mountains in Barre, Vt. to go to Tanglewood for a weekend concert, after he gets back from Minnesota. And Kevin and family are often at their lake house with water skis, good food, and fun company.


Gessi is headed to Palermo, Sicily for a wedding. Adrian and clan are headed to Johannesberg, South Africa, possibly the final trip for his mother-in-law to her home country. And my next door neighbors, Charles and Sharon, just got back from a two-week trip to Rome, Tuscany, and Florence. They walked by and into natural beauties and splendid art, ate fantastic food, visited Medieval games and accompanying chants in Siena, and reconnected to a sense of eternity and play.


For me, the outside world has crashed around me. The furthest I am headed is to Shaw’s market or a local plant store. My only long trips are about plunging deep inside my reveries. John, my husband, at least gets to walk across the river on the Rail Trail! My trip has been an immersion course in self-discovery. Me, I am terrified of the howling dogs and ever-present ticks. Putting on insect repellent and sunblock are just too much after my fall.


Instead, I wander in the fertile fields of both pain and pleasure.

Ouch.

Relax, breathe, exhale.

Just a minute, please. Stop.

Shoulders down.

It could be worse. CBD oil awaits.


My summer trip has been an immersion course in the language of ordinary “getting through the day”. Instead of developing proficiency with the Brazilian language CD’s, I have intimate knowledge of slippery carpets, the 911 Maynard Fire department rescue van, and Emerson Hospital’s Emergency Room. Asking for help is the new norm. “I can do it by myself” has oozed into, “My other shoulder hurts bad today. This broken wrist makes this impossible.”

Being out in public is a jostle and a bore. I have become the invisible disabled for as long as the healing takes. Me, I absolutely love the trip back home from PT and OT. I can air my swelling, bruises, peeling skin, and stink. I am free.


I can’t drive. I can’t write with my dominant hand. I can’t eat nicely with an adult fork. My imagination supplants the grand plaza of the Palio in Siena, Italy. Images rock and soar. I see firecrackers in red Bee Balm and sizzling life force in the messy mating of snapping turtles in that muddy middle of the river.


Floating on breath, I dive underground into fire.

Kindness flow into my veins.

Down here I can imagine a visit to Hope.

Begin the eulogy for thirty years of friendship.

I can handle the shame and fear.

Soften into it.

Even walk all by myself through the automatic doors of Harmony House with my feet slathered in mud.

Press with my elbow.

Feel that rippling joy when she, inside her withering body, says, “I love you.”

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