Dear humans of every flavor,
The internet is erupting with “it’s nearly fall!” posts. Autumn will soon be upon us, and with it comes scarves, cool weather, and Halloween. And I…couldn’t give a single fuck. I’m sure some of you are already thinking, “Eleanore, are you dead inside?” I mean. I might be, but before I am pelted with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, allow me to explain myself.
When I was a child, summer was by far my favorite. Ice cream, tuna salad, our kiddie pool perfectly placed at the trunk of my grandparents’ plum tree; summers were simply flawless. However, back then in California, the weather was never too hot and the nights were as comforting as a warm shower. As I grew older, California summers became overly hot in the daytime and oddly cold and humid at night. Especially considering I now live in Missouri where summer days are less charming and more mosquito ridden and humid beyond reason, summer has lost its charm. Not to mention that since many of my health issues are aggravated by overheating, I’ve spent the last two summers mostly struggling to not trigger my Vasovagal Syncope by recoiling from the heat like a vampire.
Summer no longer has a place in my heart and autumn never has, so we’re left with spring and winter. You know, spring, the time of the year where flowers and trees launch their wicked offspring into the air causing allergy doomed people like myself to suffer endlessly. If you can’t tell, I associate spring more with an alien invasion than a pleasant season. Then there’s winter, which I never minded in California, but now living in Missouri where it snows my arthritis and the cold wage war in my body, causing me more pain than I can stand. Driving in snow is also terrifying. Those of you who don’t have a panic attack every time you drive in the snow are personal heroes of mine. If I’m currently coming off as a pessimistic little asshole, well, it’s because I am one, but I promise this has a happy ending.
Now that I’ve organized what I dislike about each season, I’m left with a remaining question. “Well, if none of the seasons are my favorite, what do I like?” I had this question floating around in my head the last few days and I couldn’t seem to find an answer. So, naturally, I fixated. I started to think about my life as a whole. Not only seasons, but all of my human experiences and how they have formed the person I am. I thought about my hospitalizations, my disabilities, my adventures, my happiness and my heartbreak. I recalled how events started and how events ended, and all at once I was struck by a moment of clarity. Through everything I have endured one thing remains constant. Whether the situation is horrifying or electrifying, for me, the middles are almost always my favorite.
I have countless examples of this in regards to my health, but the most easily articulated comes in the form of surgeries. I’ve had several surgeries and procedures and the beginning of the process to have any of them is always tumultuous. The planning, the appointments, the anxiety of it all going through and the uncertainty of what could happen is beyond stressful. After my hospitalizations, returning home (or in one instance, to a friend’s home since I had to hide it from my family) is a struggle for both myself and those who offer to help me. When I’m not in the hospital, I’m endlessly fearful that if something goes amiss, I won’t be able to handle it.
While the middle isn’t exactly rainbows and dolphins, it is by far the best part of these situations. Let me make it clear that I do not by any means enjoy being hospitalized. However the nurses who give me their full support and attention at all hours and who are there when things go wrong are an incredible comfort. The fact that I have been in atrocious amounts of pain, but was in the safest place possible, made me feel that I could get through it.
The beeping of my oxygen machine, the on and off constriction of my blood pressure cuff, and the constant check ins at the hospital reassure me that I would be more likely to survive even if the worst should occur. When I am in the midst of recovering during hospitalization, I have nothing to worry about except my own health, and everyone around me understands that I am unwell and that my well-being absolutely has to come first. After I leave the hospital, life resumes as normal, and my well-being is no longer first priority. It’s as if my game unpauses before I can even get my hands back on the controller, and I’m transfixed, unable to deal with the obstacles that all at once come rushing towards me.
Though I am chronically ill and disabled, my life does contain more than just sickness. At least, it does when I am able to have a say in it. Take my favorite thing in the world for example; a concert. In the beginning of a concert, my anxiety is sometimes unbearable. I worry about everything going right and I fearfully wonder if my body will be able to handle being in such a lively place. Yet before I know it, the concert has ended, and I feel heartbroken that such an astounding part of my life has already passed as I walk back to my car in a state of lethargy.
But oh, how I adore the middle of a show. The band plays with every bit of passion and energy they have, pouring their souls into the venue. The crowd is screaming, singing, clapping and dancing with every note. I lose all knowledge of time, and it doesn’t matter one bit because all that exists is myself and the music. The drums synchronize with my heartbeat, overtaking me completely, and all of my pain, my sadness and my disabilities are swallowed whole by sound. For all the years I have been alive, nothing else has ever made me feel as euphoric as this.
Even something as understated as a kiss is best in the middle. In the beginning, there’s the anticipation of how it’s going to happen and if it really will. There’s the wondering if I’ll miss or if I might accidentally do something gross that will make the person on the receiving end think I’m repulsive. In the end, my lips are against other lips, and it’s usually quite delicious. However, the middle, the in between that happens before the kiss is complete, is by far my favorite. The anticipation has turned to exhilaration, and I know the kiss is going to happen, but I want to savor the moment just a second longer as I enjoy the feeling of my heart wanting to fly out of my chest like a rocket ship. Yes, I really do over-analyze everything this much.
Back to the seasons. It’s true there isn’t one in particular I long for or enjoy more than the other. Sorry, Facebook memes. I have realized that while seasons aren’t my thing, the transitions between them absolutely are. I am so fond of the transition from Winter to Spring, when the snow melts away and the sun burns a little brighter to gently wake the sleepy, frozen world. I love how I can go outside, and though I’m still shivering, the trees and flowers seem to come back alive without making me ill.
I relish the transition from spring to summer, when the Earth seems so cheerful about its existence, and the sky is ocean blue with a vanilla sun that is warm, but not warm enough to scorch. The air feels light and and soft, and I must stress once again, my face is not imploding from allergies.
I love right now, in between summer and autumn, when the humidity has quietly faded out of the air leaving a still atmosphere. It’s warm enough to wear summer clothes, but the nights are just the right amount of chilly, as if the universe is warning us that change is coming. I love that I can eat anything because whether it is hot or cold, it will fill me with goodness.
Considering my life has been filled with fear, sickness, and often times uncertainty, the middle is where I find comfort. The middle tells me, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen just yet, but I know you’ll be alright.” When my body hurts incessantly, it seems the only way I can survive any of it is to find the spaces in between the pain to bring myself even the smallest joy and victories. The middle doesn’t usually solve a problem. Being in the thick of your misery rarely feels pleasant. But for some reason, I never feel more human as I do when I am in the middle of events that happen in my life. I realize that being in the middle of something is often seen as a negative. But middles can also be pleasant, such as receiving help you have needed for a long time, or even something as small as the frosting center of a fresh cake. And did I mention the kiss thing?
It’s also true that the middles of my posts are usually easy for me to write, whereas I am never sure as to how I should end them.
If I end it like this, will you consider it cheating?
I time every journey to bump into you, accidentally
I charm you and tell you of the boys I hate,
All the girls I hate,
All the words I hate,
All the clothes I hate,
How I’ll never be anything I hate.
You smile, mention something that you like,
How you’d have a happy life if you did the things you like.