A Side

Several times in the last week I didn’t recognize myself.  The first time was seeing this picture on my camera of me and the kids from behind, enjoying our reunion with their great love, the ocean:

Who is that with the short, dark hair and dark clothes next to those bright little things? How did she get so lucky?

Then I proceeded to go for a run every other day we were on vacation on the beach, sprinting along the street one day, up before dawn another, up before dawn AGAIN for a go on a hotel treadmill.  No one uses those things!  I couldn’t do laps, but I flutter-kicked my way through the pool trying to keep up with my two young fish. Every suitcase I’ve ever packed has had the “workout” corner.  Just in case.  I used all the gear I brought and had to actually wash it and then wore it again this vacation.  Unheard of.  Who am I? Who does that?

The first morning home, the kids still had a day off, so I got up at 5:45 and went for a seven mile bike and swam.  What?  Who is this woman?

You know what else?  I brought a blender along on vacation.  And not for margaritas.  For spinach shakes.  Which I actually made and drank.  Does that sound like boasting?  It isn’t.  I’m more astonished by my own behavior than proud.  I ordered tilapia tacos at dinner with side salads. (Note: I am and probably always will be too immature to say the words “fish taco” out loud and not giggle BUT these are so, so good I have come up with a way to circumvent this by naming the fish in them.  Because, mango salsa.  Soft shells.  Some sort of tangy slaw. The best.)

Two other unrecognizable things happened on vacation.  We were in Fort Myers Beach, where ice cream shoppes are on every block, and I didn’t have any.  At all.  Not even the kids’ sloppy melted leftover cones.  I admit, though, this was a tough decision to make—I read an article (and if you have MS, you know the ’92 article I’m talking about “Correlation between Milk and Dairy Product Consumption and Multiple Sclerosis Prevalence: A Worldwide Study” by D. Malosse, et. al), had my husband and a good friend read the article, too, and break it down for me, and….don’t drink milk any longer.  There are different rates associated with different diary products, the highest being to cow milk.  I have tried a few times to wrap my head around it.  It seems like cheese is safe-ish. I don’t know about whey–is butyrophilin in whey?  I switched to a vegan protein shake for peace of mind alone. (Overcoming MS) recommends simply no dairy, period.  Um.  I know we’re talking about MS here, but also, cheese.  Cream cheese. Cream.  Butter. Key lime pie. Ice cream. Goat cheese spread on a baguette….

….but I still am having trouble with the other numbers and deciding definitively what my diet is from here on out.  I have mourned my loss of ability to read and digest scientific journals at other times, but right now it is irritating me once again.  (And this is entirely due to 1. Having children who, A. were part koala and B. did not sleep for years AND 2. Lack of practice.  At least that’s what I hope is the reason I can’t concentrate on an abstract and not be able to make sense of it.)

AND…on the way home, you know when you look at how easy your life is on the beach when you only have a fraction of your belongings and eat out every night and swim several hours every day  and watch the sun rise and set and can run on the beach or take a nap or build a sand castle or read a book and your husband isn’t stressed (as much) about work or working late and early and you haven’t been on your computer in a week and your get to spend real time with your family, the one you created, the one you love more than anything without worrying about anything….you tell your husband you just don’t want to leave.  Last year, you said you wouldn’t leave.  The year before that, that you couldn’t and in fact cried until you were on the highway.  You are making progress.  This year, I didn’t even console myself with a pastry and a huge sweet, milky coffee as we drove away.  (in fairness, the second morning of waking up in some hotel with five more hours to drive, I TRIED to get myself a decaf with weird non-dairy creamers…and scalded my mouth and threw it away.  Fucking health gods saving me from myself, sigh.)

Then yesterday, I bought groceries and at the last minute put some peanut M&Ms on the belt.  The young woman scanning the groceries asked “Would you like me to leave these out for you?” Um, no.  I know exactly which bag they are in and will eat them all once I get into my car, thank you.  And then she put two cartons of milk in one bag and looked at me, then said “Is this going to be too heavy?”  Uh, I sure hope not. I mean, I’m not feeble.  Am I?   So there’s that, anyway, that a perfect stranger still sees through this healthy activity nonsense.

And this morning, I pulled the perennial move of going to boot camp a day after 26 hours of driving and injured myself.  THAT, I recognize.  THIS time, at least I didn’t throw out my back or hurt my knee.  I did lay on the floor, unable to get up for a few minutes while I calculated how exactly to roll and stand without moving my locked-up shoulders.  The bonus was having a friend place traffic cones around me while I lay there.  It made me laugh.  It made me happy.  It made me realize that I am the same person I’ve always been.  The person who always tries really hard.  The person who sometimes ends up on the gym floor, broken.  The person who will hole-up for a month and watch five seasons of Once Upon a Time in order to slowly process her new reality.  The person who always gets back up.  The person who eats a “sharing” size M&Ms by herself in her car and trains for a triathlon as if her future depends on it.