Lame Ducks

Matt has accepted a job at Eastern Michigan University for next fall, which means he’ll be moving (drum roll please) four hours closer to me. We’ll be in the same time zone, even, which is something. He has begun to (jokingly) refer to himself as a lame duck at work. We spin out terrible “Bad Teacher” fantasies between us. “I’m going to do nothing but show my classes 90’s sitcom reruns for the rest of the quarter.” Etc.

But really I’m the lame duck. I am literally hobbling toward summer like, well, my mother, whose Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease has worsened with age. I don’t have CMT, but last November I threw my back out for four days. I was bent at the waist, literally unable to stand up straight for two of them. Two months ago, a twinge in my knee turned into chronic soreness and just as that started to clear, about ten days ago, bam, my first attack of sciatica. In certain positions, I feel fine. But when I drive I can’t sit comfortably and when I get in and out of the car, it’s a struggle not to yell.

This is what it is to be a McCarty. Bad eyes, terrible teeth, backs and nerves that stop working like they’re supposed to in our thirties, as if each of us comes with a warranty. One of my earliest and happiest memories is watching “Hill Street Blues” on the floor with my dad. Every week. I don’t remember my dad ever actually sitting on our big beige couch. I remember him groaning, flat backed on the carpet, or stuck on all fours, comb-over flopping forward, laughing at himself and clucking in frustration. My brother can tell you anything you need to know about hot and cold packs; my sister has joint hypermobility; my mother once ran her car into a parking structure when she disobeyed the doctor’s orders and drove herself home after a monthly epidural for lower back pain. And so here I am, one of them. I don’t walk in the morning so much as lurch around on rheumatic pain stubs. I’m sure the stress of the last year has not been doing me any favors. I feel old and creaky and a little worried–I feel like I’m getting a peek into the future and I do not like what I’m seeing which is basically the Louis C. K. bit about the incurably shitty ankle except instead of my ankle it’s my entire posterior body.

I know what will fix this: I have to start yoga again. But I think now instead of doing it when I can afford it, when I’m in the mood, I guess I’m going to have to do it always, for the rest of my life, as long as I’m able. You’d think it would feel kind of fatalistic, but really, it’s sort of a relief. Because I’m a practical, cheapskate Midwesterner, there’s always been a small guilt in yoga for me. Maybe now I can let that go. Begin to deepen my breath and set my intentions: 1) to stay bipedal as long as possible and 2) to look like that amazing 80 year-old yoga woman on Facebook ads who is so clearly not 80 but oh don’t we wish it. Yes, yes we do. Namaste.

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