On an alternative plane of time and space, I see myself:
I hand wash delicate handkerchiefs inherited from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I can see the sun through them where they hang, and I smile. It doesn’t hurt the muscles and joints in my arms and back to wring or lift them to dry.
I blend almonds and water into milk; my face erect, my movements quick and determined. The sound and dim stove light don’t threaten a migraine I’ve been tempering for days.
I spend an afternoon easefully popping into one store and another, stocking up on meat, and produce, and coffee, exploring cheerily with energy and gusto. I don’t spend day after day timidly moving from bed and then falling back.
I see her — that other me — clearly.
I see her through the thin veil that barely separates us and the worlds in which we move. In both, our spirits embrace the activities this Zero Waste Challenge brings: reusing handkerchiefs instead of throwing away tissues, making milk instead of buying it, and shopping where meat and vegetables and coffee don’t come needlessly suffocating in plastic.
In that world, her body is whole. In mine, my body rails against the extra breath and blood this Challenge requires.
The other night in Connecticut, I almost black out in a store. Suddenly nauseous and feeling like all of the blood has drained from me, I drop my intended purchases, call Muffin while heading out the door, and keep her on the line while I lay in my car, the world spinning until mom comes to rescue me.
The next night, driving from one grocer’s to the next to find meat almost sets off the same, until I give in and buy a pound of grass-fed beef in plastic that I’ll now have to fess up about, and head home before the world gives way.
The snail’s pace at which I wash, blend, or steep loose tea… the satisfaction of those intimate moments my soul enjoys…. That satisfaction is lost right now in the exhausted necessity of the extra steps.
To blow my nose, I now need…. To drink tea, I now need…. To have enough groceries to make food, I now need….
There are joys in this Challenge, already discovered. These struggles don’t diminish them. I look forward to continued exploration. But I’m in a unique string of weeks and days where my body needs…
My body needs…
My body is…