The Sum Of Me

Henri Matisse, The Dance I, 1909, Museum of Mo...

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I am part of an internet group of dear friends who also have Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disease. We generally talk about the effects of this leech, this parasitic illness and how it makes us feel and how it affects our lives. It is what brings us together; and we truly care about one another. Imagine, a group of people who you have never met yet you trust them, seek out their advice. These people really do know how your pain feels.

We could discuss things we used to do but cannot do now. For me, I would talk about gardening and how I used to have a big vegetable garden many years ago when bending down to my knees and getting up was no problem. I would reminisce about the bright green English peas that grew, the fiery red cherry tomatoes that bathed in the sunlight, two kinds of lettuce and thick, orange carrots. I could also talk about the three miles I used walk in under an hour with my work friends each day, outside, around a blue-green reservoir. Maybe I would confess I was a size eight for about two minutes and twenty years ago while I was struggling with infertility issues and the deep, emotional pain of that process. “If I couldn’t have children, I was going to be skinny” was my mantra as I made myself march outside.

The summer before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and my children were at camp, I would take the train to New York City and relish being surrounded by people from all over the world, hearing them speak, watching the beautiful, colorful outfits that so many people donned in shades of rose, green, yellow, blue, shades of white and grey. Perhaps I would see a Broadway show for half price, go to a museum, or back to the Village and try to recognize it after many years. Going in to the city was like having an international picnic without even leaving the gleaming Grand Central Station.  I didn’t worry back then about getting to the city and how much walking I would have to do and whether I had to take a cab because I was so tired and drained that I couldn’t put one burning, aching, painful foot in front of the other.

Many blogs I read are about chronic pain and diseases, and I wonder at their brilliance. It’s a dilemna for me because while I do write about my chronic illness or two, I write about everything else in my life.  Am I doing myself a disservice? It could be. I write about food, depression, fun, family, television, friends, travel, grief, cheesecake, chocolate etc.  It’s a mix and mash-up of a blog, like a patchwork quilt with different patterns and colors. Do I need to define myself more clearly?  I may have just answered my own question. I am all things, not just one.

I am a patient, a parent, a friend, wife, mother, teacher and student. I love many things: reading books with beautiful covers, writing, taking photographs of children or benches or boats. I love to watch red cardinals and yellow finches at my bird feeder and butterflies winking by me. I love to eat good food, I am sweet on sweets, I dislike alcohol; coffee, orange juice, chocolate milk or Diet Coke are my beverages of choice, I drink them all at different times.

I could choose to pick one subject to write about but, it would not be my true self, of that I am sure. I am all over the place with emotions and experiences, flying, sometimes crawling, like red, yellow, blue and black kites sailing in the gusty wind, all tangled together, or in peaceful harmony, sometimes independently flying free. I am a person, with many  facets. I am as many pieces of my puzzle as I want. It’s my puzzle, I need to make the pieces fit,  for me.

My Favorite Museum

NYC - MoMA: Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'...

Image by wallyg via Flickr

NYC

 

My favorite museum, since I was a teenager, was the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. While other kids in High School would cut school if they had free time, and hang out with friends and smoke cigarettes, I would hop on the subway either by myself or with my friend Elizabeth and that’s where we would go. The museum was a wonderful place full of sensory overload, modern art, photography exhibits, even film. “MOMA” as it is called had a sculpture garden where, in the nice weather, you could read outside, eat ice cream and dream if you wanted to, your face being warmed by the sun. I knew a lot of the paintings by heart and where they were placed. It was always comforting to go there. I also used to go with my sister where she would inevitably charm the guard we had known for years and he would let us slip in for free, something I was too shy to do on my own. There are few places that I can go to and feel like I was “home” yet feel excited to reunite with my favorite paintings. In the small gift shop (before it was redone) I nestled with the postcards and books and always bought a few postcards as a reminder of the time I spent there. Even now, if I had a choice, I would head to MOMA, but I would practically have to take out a bank loan since the admission prices now are so high. I still plan to go again, hopefully this year, because in reality, happiness and art and feeling alive, is priceless.

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