Wind chill minus 9, snow piled 3 to 4 feet high in some areas and I’m out of food and cigarettes. This means a walk to the store is inevitable. Here in the final weeks of treatment and have so little left to give, physically. I become exhausted and achy after the most routine activity, doing dishes, cleaning up around the house, taking the dog out. Needless to say I’m not thrilled about the thought of this walk. I postpone for an hour then realize the sun is heading west. It will only be colder after dark, and the patches of ice will be undetectable. So I “buck up”, eat some Cheerios with ensure and bundle up warmly. My son and his dog accompany my as we set out on our arctic journey. The dog, Mitzy, is half husky and tolerates the cold, my little dog; a Shih-tsu/terrier mix stays home. When I first step out into the frigid air my muscles tighten, I brace myself. A block from the house, I’m short of breath and want to sit down. Since I know that’s not an option, I take a deep belly breath and pace my steps. My muscles start to relax. I can feel my blood flowing I start to adjust to the cold (as much as anyone can at that temperature). The corner store is only 4 blocks away but on some treatment days it feels like miles. By the time we’re halfway there I’ve got a decent pace going, my son and I are talking and laughing, Mitzy is happily trotting along picking up scents to see who’s been around.
I hang in there quite well and although the sun is sailing toward the horizon it is bright and feels warming. The corner store is a fairly typical urban corner store. Narrow aisles are lined with cluttered shelves containing products arranged in no particular order. If you can find it, you can fulfill most of your basic needs whatever they may be. Along with milk, bread and basic family needs like diaper, toilet paper, 7 day candles and mouse traps you can find herbal “all night long” potion, rolling papers, whatever clever novelty gift is being used to make crack pipes and pretty much any kind of liquor you can imagine. It’s always an adventure in cultural irony.
By the time we get home I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. The kind of tired you feel when you’ve accomplished something, not the kind of tired you feel when you’ve been lying around the house with no motivation or interest. I know that kind of tired all too well lately. I realize I enjoy the other kind of tired. I appreciate it.
I know a four block round trip walk isn’t exactly Olympian, hell I used to walk miles a day no matter what the weather; but everything is relative. Today overcoming my resistance “bucking up”, doing what I had to do and enjoying it felt like a Gold Medal achievement.
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard