Step by step and breath and by breath
It’s a trail of doubt.
- Danny Schmidt, Know Thy Place
Stubbornness is underrated as a survival skill. I was too stubborn to die recently. I don’t want to die here. I may not know my place, but I know this isn't it.
I’ve always been better at knowing what my place is not. I know it by heart, but also by seasonal allergies to pollen-producing flowers that know So Cal’s climate is not their place. Such floras however, are very comfortable after 20 inches of winter rain here in this corner of Zone 9. The pollen on the skylight is thicker than ash from a nearby wildfire. It looks like yellow snow. My nose hasn’t stopped running since things started blooming.
Examples: Forsythia that I haven’t seen since I was in my 20s. Lilacs so profuse that people trim them with hedge clippers to keep the blooms from pulling the branches into sidewalks. The plum and cherry trees lining the streets leave puddles of lovely pink and white snow blowing in the curbs. Camellias drop their rusty fist-sized flowers that gradually dry and turn a pink-brown color to complement the puddles of cherry blossoms. My flowering quince bloomed itself out before I could cut any blooms. I think that’s dogwood blooming now. There is lily of the valley beneath my font porch. M’s red azaleas are shouting down the softer pink ones. I saw a ceanothus so covered with blooms that I barely recognized it, having only seen thirsty southern-Californian relatives struggling to be a pale imitation of a syringa.
Lilacs remind me of K who would buy me a bunch every March from up the mountain in Alpine. In my opinion, every perfume ever made from lilacs has failed. Even the essential oil is too sweet and cloying. But the fragrance of a real lilac is something that evokes the purest innocence of childhood. I have no doubt that the first time I smelled a lilac, it was in the hand of my mother and it smelled like love.
I’m going to another place. I’m going sometime in the next two or three months. I’m reinventing myself. Again.
Before I leave here, I’m having another heart ablation, a few expensive microdermabrasion treatments from an aesthetician, and I’m stocking up on my medications in preparation for yet another adventure in switching health insurance which is related to but slightly more important than finding another health care provider and totally more intimidating. I’ll also get another haircut before I leave this hip urban town.
I ran out of an important prescription for a few days but finally managed to set up a mail order prescription plan that enables me to never again enter the doors of the Rite Aid down the street where it took an average – not hyperbole: a freaking AVERAGE - of 3 trips to the pharmacy to refill each of my five prescriptions. That means for the one time I got a prescription on the first try, I gave up on another one after the 4th try. A more incompetent pharmacy would be hard to find, even with my luck. When I couldn’t get my blood-thinning stroke-preventing meds recently (4 tries), I went home and contacted my prescription plan provider and they walked me through the mail order enrollment process. It took one 30 minute call to be saved from Rite Aid and certain death by another stroke.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying the smell of fresh lilacs picked from the bush in the tiny communal garden between my house and the mailbox. I have to go outside and plant two tiny mail-order lilacs in the front yard. Then I will get mail and pick fresh lilacs and smell them while I drink my decaf latte and have homemade corn chowder for lunch.
Then, when the Spring flowers are done, I will move to a new latitude and longitude. I can always come back next Spring. I’ll bring Benadryl and stock up on legal medications while I’m in town. Maybe get a haircut.