Dry nightfall has arrived, finally, after a sizzling hot, seemingly endless day. The fireworks at sundown were an afterthought, Independence Day was already so overcooked. The smell of cordite hangs over the crackly, dark chapparal that surrounds me, waiting for a breath of breeze to waft it away. With the state of our aching economy and the terrible dis-ease in our politics and government, this fine old day we Americans spend celebrating liberty and democracy seems almost quaint to me. Those words meant something, once, didn’t they.
I don’t like to feel this way: Cynical, growly, a whine trapped behind my teeth. I ache like my teen-aged country. My personal rheuma-dragon is once again alive and well and gnawing hungry with knifeteeth at my knees and knuckles. He doesn’t stop me from moving, oh no. He just stops my enjoying it. He makes climbing the stairs a grim challenge. He makes standing after I’ve sat for a while winceworthy. He forces gritted teeth and stifled groans.
Damned old dragon.
I put on my cool white headphones and try to lose myself in the intricate music of the Celts. There must be a patch of my mind that’s Irish or Scottish or Welsh. This crisscrossy, nimble, heart-tuggy and sometimes wailing music speaks to my restless soul. I’d dance to it, but I can’t.
Don’t mind me. For the first time in years I’m being my way through a Vicodin-fog. I’m grateful for my prescription for the stuff, don’t get me wrong. Lately pain has come to assault me with a capital P. This strange opiate detachment from the hurt (it’s over there) is weirdly pleasant but artificial; it cannot last. It won’t last. Instead, it’s past time for me to explore some other alchemal concoctions to calm and tame my reawakened rheuma-dragon, some that are less fickle and habitforming, preferably narcotic-free. I shall soon consult my doctor. He’s the wizard. He holds my spirit between his gloved palms. I wonder if he knows.
In the meantime, I’ll see your pain and raise you two aches. I have big stretches and know how to use them in cadence with whispery moans. Frosty icepacks wait for my ginger fingers to pluck them from the freezer, ready to numb my hip-bursae to the bone. Ah, sleek rheuma. Ah, knobbly bursitis.
Ah, sizzling, painful July.