Tuesday, August 19

don't do it

We had an inexpressibly wonderful time away. It was a mixture of having each other’s company all day long, and no responsibilities. It was blue and white mountains and clear lakes, and doing whatever we liked.  It was the fact that after the first week it wasn’t nearly over. It was a body which functioned more normally, and accepted alcohol, and slept soundly, and groaned less.

When we spoke to people, they didn’t ask what we did for a job. They asked where we were from, and there was a simple, easy answer to that. We talked about New Zealand, and Australia, and snow fall, and beautiful places. I was free from telling strangers about personal things, and free from my house of tired memories. I cried when I came home.

Very soon after our return, I found myself sitting in a doctors reception for the first time in 2014. Butterflies, and frequent bathroom trips reminded me of the past six years endless of doctor trips. The GPs were running late, and the room was filled with the elderly, all except Ben and I.

There was one particularly vivacious old lady sitting near us.

 “Everything in your body just stops working when you get old. It’s dreadful! But I shouldn’t scare you,” she said winking at us. Everyone turned to us with wrinkled smiles of warning.

“You’re young and life is still exciting for you, and don’t worry, you have many many years before you will get here. And we had fun when we were young too. A lot of fun.”

“Oh yes, we did! “ Chorused the ladies and men around her. When their bodies worked, they had fun.

 “You do have to get used to these very long waits before appointments, you spend a lot of time here when you get old like us,” she said with another patronising wink at us.

Her superior ‘you couldn’t possibly understand’ tone and her ‘your life is a breeze’ winks grated against my decrepit body. I had a slight urge to break to the whole waiting room how mistaken she was in supposing that my young face was attached to a functional body unaccustomed to waiting rooms, discomfort, unemployment and the pension.

Speaking of the places she had spent her life she observed that “You want to move around when you’re young, but I just want to stay put now. It’s such an effort to move.”

Oh no, not everyone wants to move around when they’re young.

And then she said, “What brings you all the way out here?” for we were seeing a doctor thirty minutes from home. It must not have dawned on her that I was obviously here because I am unwell, and obviously here because there was a doctor I particularly wanted to see.

My new doctor eventually called my name, so I stood up and the old people waved a warm goodbye to my young husband and I as we went to discuss my old problem.

The old phrase, 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' echoed through my mind. 
Just don't. Ever. 


  1. This. This has happened to me too. Pretty much everyone I meet who doesn't see the struggle between closed doors (crying with exhaustion and pain, unable to get off the floor). You capture your experience so well. I'm so sorry the "misreading" was so poignant.

    1. Oh, the idea that youth is this universally vibrant time is so ingrained! Yes to crying with exhaustion and pain, and fainting on the floor. I feel a sad/happy feeling that you know exactly what I am talking about.Thanks for writing E xx