Tag Archives: weather

Stay With Me

1 Nov

nature's gold

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower:
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

***

When the radio news voice says that “bad weather” is expected this weekend, and that “today is beautiful, but tomorrow it’s going to rain,” I grumble. There isn’t bad weather, there’s only weather, I insist. All weather is good, every day is beautiful, just dress for the present conditions. A good trench coat, cute rain boots, and a bright-colored umbrella make me giddy. I love to feel prepared, ready to face anything and come out unruffled.

As it turns out, that strength and resilience is what causes my life-crunching headaches. Multiple doctors, a MRI, and a neurologist appointment later, I learned that what I suffer from are “let-down headaches.” Trust me, I could run with that name forever—let down? Let me tell you about let downs. But scientifically, it’s an extension of migraine that is triggered by prolonged periods of stress followed by sudden relaxation. The stress hormones dissipate and leave my brain reeling, screaming in pain. Where is the cortisol! Load me up, A-type personality girl! Find me a thrill!

Sigh.

And get this: migraine sufferers, or “migrainers” as we are cheerily referred to in the lame “How to Live with Migraine” magazine my neurologist gave me, have a distinct personality. They’re over-achievers who love routine and stability, they have a tremendous empathy that makes them an emotional sponge that absorbs all the suffering, angst, or happiness around them—oh, and they tend to be the ones who relocate to help a dying loved one.

Bunky Huron: Migrainer.

When I moved to Texas to help my mother in her final year, my poor head reacted poorly. Every time I arrived at her apartment and sunk into the sofa in front of the Hallmark channel, I could feel the pain creep to my temples. My mother and I discussed potential causes quite often, as I have been a headache sufferer my entire life, and I used to write science reports on them as early as middle school. I even did a science fair project on headaches.

So I was the scientist, and my mother was the nurse. She remained calm and steady as my earliest pre-teen migraines made the left side of my body go numb and deadened my tongue so I couldn’t speak. My memories of her constant care are so clear. She’d get a cool, wet wash cloth for my head and gently hover near me while I writhed on the sofa. I’d try to tell her through tongue-numb speech that I knew it was a symptom of the vascular lightning storm in my brain, and I knew it would subside, but I was secretly scared i was going dumb and would lose my power to speak entirely.

My mother’s eyes showed concern, but not panic. The constant presence of her love was my tether to the real world while my viewpoint grew hazy with eyesight-blinding migraine “aura.” I’m still so amazed that she didn’t panic. She was as much a worrier as I was, but as a mother, she was effortlessly steady. She knew my strength and resilience, she knew I was generally a really healthy kid, and above all, she knew that if she sat there calmly with me, I might believe that there was hope for normal life again.

I look back now and realize that I did the same for her when she was sick in the hospital. I stayed calm, I acted as though everything was normal, and I tried to set a tone of steady routine in our lives. But my headaches persisted, and I really thought they were brought on by the stress of being a caretaker. I’d blame her openly, saying that the grocery list gave me a headache, and coming to her house gave me a headache.

Now, my poor, scientific heart knows that those were let-down headaches, and I was in pain because I’d relaxed in her care. While she cooked me dinner, and brought me snacks and drinks as I lounged on the sofa, I returned to a softness I hadn’t felt since I was a child. There was no one who cared for me on a daily basis, except my mother. And the disappearance of that steadiness, that supportive force of her love after she died, is wracking my brain with pain.

“You’re someone who functions valiantly under stress, and then you collapse when it subsides,” my neurologist intones. The reason I’d had a headache for two months straight was no doubt the release of grief, the exodus of physical pain from my poor, fragile corporeal person.

Mom, you didn’t give me headaches. You gave me relief, and my body gave me headaches. I miss you so much it actually hurts.

I am slowly getting better, thanks to craniosacral massage and a new awareness on how to mitigate stress in my life. Apparently, “migrainers” have to actually fake a little bit of stress after a long period of stress, so they can avoid the sharp withdrawal of hormones. So this morning I actually told myself I had so much to do today, such a busy Saturday, so much work to do!

Feeling the ache creep to back of my skull to accompaniment of the relaxing sounds of rain pouring down on my deck outside, I did some semi-intense yoga to make sure I was stressed. Hey, hey, gentle fall into relaxation. Not sudden. Gentle.

After yoga, in savasana, I let my jaw go slack, and suddenly pictured my mother’s own slack expression after she died. These are the images we keep in our mind forever. I started sobbing and said out loud, “I saw the last light in your eyes. I was the witness.”

I, always alone, alone, was the witness. No wonder I’m stressed. And as I sobbed, I said, “Your love was golden.” And as my mother’s favorite poet, Robert Frost said, “Nothing gold can stay.”

Throw it in the Sea

6 Nov

It was a little bit late, and I was standing in a Texas bar decorated primarily with sports-blinking televisions. Not my first choice, but one conveniently proximate to the hotel of some colleagues who were visiting from Scotland. We’d already haunted two other improperly lit establishments, and this was the gentlemen’s “nightcap” choice.

Dissatisfied with the single malt offerings, but goal-oriented just the same, we opted for Macallan 12. The conversation naturally turned to the prospect of my visiting Scotland in the near future. I was to tour a factory and then disappear to the tiny scrap of sea-wrapped land called Islay, where all of my favorite scotches are made.

I am to go in winter, when probably the friend with an airplane won’t be able to fly us across the channel and we’ll be forced to take a ferry instead. Some in the group said “It will be awful, that’s a terrible time of year.” But my favorite gentleman in the cohort saw it the way I would, through haze of damp fog and lost love drifting turbulently away and forever out of reach. Plus fog horns and some forlorn birds.

The group conversation dissolved into little eddies of private topics, and after a few sips of the speyside malt we were enduring this evening, my favorite discovered that I am indeed still failing in the pursuit of love. So I really would love to wander the peat bogs of austere Islay under guise of mist and evaporated sea salt in the dead of winter, I mused. It would be perfect.

He curled the words around the skeptical squint of a man who grew up on craggy terrain and is happy to golf in zero-visibility conditions. He turned to look at me.

“That’ll rip your heart out.” A growl of warning, testing my mettle.

Really, it will be perfect.

Enthusiasm thus validated, he let a smirk preface his next declaration. “Throw it in the sea!”

A pause while I laughed at his gesture of ripping heart from chest and casting it far from shore. “Let’s terrorize it.”

Indeed, let’s terrorize it. The poor trembling thing thought it felt the first tremblings of affection on the shores of San Francisco last week, let’s promise it to the cold undertow. Be punished, poor heart.

“No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does,” quoth the pithy fake green chalkboard in the airport bar. And I nodded, heart awoken. But standing there in the sports-score illumination last night, I knew the Scot had the right idea. Give up, terrorize it. Don’t let anyone find it again.

Wishlet

11 Oct

The temperature in Fort Worth varies by a few degrees from that in Dallas. The radio man posts flags in each city’s number on the quarter hour, and that’s the only time I let my heart wonder how he feels in that differential. There in that soft, even light pouring in from north windows, he stands. Do we think of each other in the exact moment these meteorological facts are simulcast across the Metroplex? I know he makes note of stray Fort Worth facts, because he shared one with me when I went back. He pretended to be casual, but I saw a flicker of eagerness when he was able to tell me a street name in answer to my follow-up inquiry. He’s cool, but I’m one or two degrees cooler in Cowtown.

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