Last week this happened:
Many things to be thankful for: I was driving alone; I walked away without injuries; no one in the other cars was injured; airbags work; though I was on the freeway, I didn't swerve into another lane of fast traffic; car insurance covers a multitude -- the list is long and has grown through the week.
I was warned that my body could lock up after a few days, that my neck pain would get worse, that I should take it easy even if I feel well, that I might panic on the freeway the next time. Thankfully, none of that happened; my neck and back pain lessened and my shock wore off with each day. But what did happen is that almost a week later, new bruises appeared on my feet, ankles and legs.
Looking at them -- finally seeing the reasons I'd been sore in those places -- I thought about how pain often works that way: we feel bad before we see why, or we know only part of why we hurt.
Silas downloaded a program on my computer called Tabby Cats: every time I open a new tab, a little round cartoon cat sits blinking at me with some ridiculous name underneath like "Scandalous Foof" or "Spicy Snowglobe," or "Froofy Sappling" or "Wise Beggar" (I haven't thought about how weird this is until right now). Just now, my cat was named "Smoochy Rager."
It's funny to mash random adjectives and nouns together, but it's chaotic to feel them collide: one minute we're Smoochy, the next we're Rager, and we didn't see the trip wire hiding between the two.
This week I found the wire, and it had to do with the bruises. Not the car accident bruises, but the other ones.
Sara, my sister-in-law, visited last weekend, and especially by the last day, it was like home: we sat on the floor, talked, moved furniture around, talked, thrift shopped, dreamed about her moving here, ate pho, talked.
Being together apparently jostled a cork that had been neatly holding inside me. The day after she left, I sat planning my Monday and thought, "then Maeve and I will go to my mom's house --" JOLT -- 3000 miles away -- my first loss-impulse. A few days later, the slushy fear and aimlessness of anchoring new lives here geysered up and out for the first time since moving.
It was like the bruises coming to the skin.
I felt better seeing them. They sorted what hurt and what didn't, and reminded me why. The bruises told me my story again.
Specifics help quiet the overwhelm -- and, it turns out, reveal the trip wire between the nouns and the adjectives. So maybe now I can be just Smoochy or just Rager (unfortunately that's not solved), rather than both at the same time.