Three alarms later, I’ve relocated from the bed to the couch, nesting into what has become “my spot.” It’s dark in the living room; silent; still. As my computer boots up, I swallow half a Lexapro. Last week, I called my doctor to ask to go back on medication. It works better with therapy, she reminds me. I know, I respond, I just need something to shine the glass on this belljar. She obliges, and prescribes me three months worth. A simulacrum of a baseline in a bottle.
Next to me on the couch is The Blanket. I haven’t named her yet. She’s unfinished, but already beautiful. Like most knitters, I had been sitting on a horde of yarn big enough to make any dragon blush. And also like most knitters, I never quite use up all of the yarn by the end of my projects. There are scraps, shreds, and skeins that remain. So one night, to work through a fit of OCD, I decided to do something about it. A blanket, I thought. Crochet. Two yarns at a time, and a nice fat hook that would make quick work of my stash.
And just like that she was born, in a fit of cotton candy pink and burgundy.
On my laptop, I begin checking the completion rates of classwork from the day before as the remains of a hat and a long forgotten shawl slide through my fingers. The rates are low, and I am done caring. How am I supposed to ask my students and their families to worry about grades or classwork right now? When I call them daily to check in, we talk about Covid. And baby wipes. And mixed numbers. I want to go back! one student tells me as we FaceTime. I have nothing to say to her except, I know. Teaching at its finest. My hands are working as we talk. I had originally made the hat for my oldest childhood friend, the shawl for an old co-worker. I near the end of a row and try not to think about where they are now.
At 1:55 my husband finds me curled into a tight ball on our bed. He asks how my mindfulness training went. Good, I say, hands clenching and unclenching, but it was a lot.
They had said in the seminar that mindfulness practice may bring up trauma. And they were right. With each movement and breath my skin crawled, on the brink of a shiver that never came, sparklers running across my arms and back. Okay this is my trauma, I thought, but…from what? There is too much and too little to place, and I’m too tired to begin parsing it out. The glass around me fogs, and I am in and out of sleep. It is not until my husband crawls into bed and curls around me like fondant that I am finally able to rest, his weight soothing the cracks that training has left behind.
Sometime around 4:00, I wake up in the same position I fell asleep. Dishes are done. It’s my turn to cook dinner. We have another date tonight and I’m excited. They watch me cook, we watch them eat dinner. Tell the dog I said hi. I miss you. Everything said and unsaid at the same time.
Soon we’re on the couch, the four of us separated by glass and wires, picking out something to watch. The Blanket is on my lap, my hands moving again. Scraps of mittens and a failed sweater twist and turn around my fingers, just like how we twisted and turned in their bed almost a year ago. The movie plays. When it’s over, I close my laptop. My husband grabs my hand. He doesn’t ask if I’m okay anymore. Instead, he waits quietly for the tears to come. I miss them makes its way out of my mouth. He has nothing to say except, I know. I cry every time, for all of them.
10:45 and I am on top of The Blanket in a fury, a madwoman. We’re on the bed now, and she is stretched out, nearly done. Turquoise the color of a peacock feather inches across the final row.
Smiling, I invite my husband into the room. Look, I say, rolling around on the bed. He is in awe. Later we spoon underneath her, this remnant of “before.” I hear my husband’s heart beat. I still haven’t named her. Perhaps I never will. The alarms are set, and I will be tired, tomorrow already blending into today. At least this time, when I make my way back to my spot, I’ll have my before, my blanket, to comfort me in the present.