Up in the Air

As I write now, I am one quarter through one of the two busiest Septembers in recent memory, and currently three thousand feet in the air on my way from Philadelphia to New Orleans.


Thankfully, all changes and activities are positive this time around. This is the year of the dragon – a lucky year. The year of the tiger, 2010, was my most tumultuous thus far, which agrees perfectly with Chinese astrology; every twelve years, when the year you were born comes around again, you’re told to get ready for a wild ride, filled with learning experiences and opportunities for sometimes-painful growth. Not that I put too much faith in that sort of thing, but believe me, that September 2010 after all events unfolded, I kept my jade tiger tied around my neck with red string until the beginning of the following lunar new year, in February, just as you’re warned to do during your birth year.


This time around, I’m kept on my toes again, but without the fits of bad luck and the jade to combat it. On the contrary, I find myself in the right place at the right time nowadays, with excellent things to look forward to.


I had planned to go to Kentucky this week to run wedding errands and spend time with my parents and brothers, but when news that my grandmother was sick came to me, I followed it to West Virginia, where she lives. She’s not just one of those children of the depression, she’s a farm child of the depression, tough as nails, headstrong, fiercely independent, but extremely generous with her time, consideration, and resources. She’d been sick for months, spending three hours in the bathroom every morning and not bothering a soul with her troubles. Finally, her illness caught up with her and she spent a week in the hospital. By the time I came to see her, she was a bit stronger and was able to come back home. All week, I tried my best to take care of her, with little luck; throughout the week, her health slowly improved, and she made the transition into taking care of me again, ironing all my clothes on the last day we were together while I was on a conference call in the next room.


We learned that her condition is closely linked to Celiac Disease, an allergy to gluten. A diet free from wheat, barley, rye, and many food additives is hard for anyone to follow, but especially my grandmother, whose diet’s staple has been toast for as long as I’ve been alive. We went to the health food store the last day and bought some udi gluten-free bread, which we both enjoyed more than we thought we would.


I went to Pittsburgh on Thursday to return the car my fiancé’s family had lent me for the week and went to Philadelphia with them for a wedding two days later. The wedding itself was in a barn built nearly two centuries before, a structure with no steel in it. The ceremony, I’m told, was beautiful, although I was unfortunately not able to see it through the crowd and the sound of the rain (which was refreshing and made everything smell delicious) but the reception is something I’ll always remember, from the couples dancing to the bluegrass music under the twinkle lights in the barn’s rafters to the softball-sized cupcakes.


Me and my almost-family-in-laws


Today, as I mentioned, I’m on my way to New Orleans for the Midwest Academy’s training for organizers. I realize that my life is and will forever be tied to social change throughout my life no matter what circumstances I find myself in, so I’m grateful for the chance to get some quality education on the subject.


I brought my running clothes, and I hope to put them to good use. My body doesn’t like being held back, and I do not relish getting my stamina and speed back from the nearly three weeks my foot has been out of commission. But I’m making progress; last week, I had just taken the boot off and was visibly limping, this week, I’m dancing at weddings. I had to take an extended sit afterwards, but I still did it. I’m hoping that means I’m able to run by this time next week, or (preferably) earlier.


I know these are famous words within the amateur blogging community, but I’ll try to be better about updating abodyandabrain. Life has been exceptionally busy lately, but that just makes the necessity of recording this period of my life all the more important. Last night, as I leaned my shoulder against the barn’s door, Ryan wrapped his arm around my waist and tapped his hand to the rhythm on my hip, as he often does. I suppose the difference was the location and the family around us, a small vision of the chapter soon to come. It overwhelmed me, excited me, and seemed to tell me exasperatingly to start writing more of these things down, for pity’s sake.

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