I’ve been having a bit of a rough time with a urinary tract infection that just won’t go away. But hey, at the doctor today the scale said I’m three pounds lighter! Look what being sick can do for you! Not funny.
After I got back from a bracing visit to my harried-looking but actually very sympathetic GP, I scurried off to the sheriff’s department to get the final phase of my handgun concealed carry permit done: fingerprinting, filling in yet another questionnaire…
Before we go further with this, I need to address that group of you who is sitting there with their jaws on their knees going “wha…you mean you…she…”
Yes. I own handguns. Two of them. One of them, a Ruger target-shooting competition pistol, I have had for years. I love to shoot targets. It’s fun.
I just bought the other one last week. I have had my eye on this pistol for a long time. It’s a Smith and Wesson .38, model name LadySmith. I know, I know, it must be the devil that causes me to get all hot and bothered over a gun.
But how can I possibly describe the smooth burl of her grip, so perfect in my hand, as if made expressly for me; the smooth way she rolls out for loading and unloading; the coy bluing of her short barrel; and the prospect of making some really big holes in the paper targets, instead of the little tiny holes my Ruger .22 caliber makes, so I have to go up and squint at the target to see where the holes are, after shooting off a clip?
Well. There I was, with a form in front of me that asks me have I been convicted of this, am I a fugitive from that, am I mentally ill?
Hm. I thought about that one for a while, and then checked “No.”
That is because I have been stable on medicines for over five years, and if you ask me, I believe that I am not mentally ill. I take medicines that ensure my mental health, and they are a part of why my mental health is excellent today.
Other factors is that I meditate. A lot. And it grounds me, and with the help of the medicines I can find a still point. Things bother me, of course, but things bother everybody.
Next thing you know, I get body-slammed.
“Just write the name of your doctor right here.”
“My doctor? Why?”
“Oh, it’s a formality. We have to check whether you are mentally ill.”
“Oh, okay,” I chirp cheerfully, writing the name of the doc I just saw and hoping he will be cool and keep it between the ditches.
Damn. If it isn’t the “honesty tax” (“Oh, you have DSM diagnoses? Sorry, no laundry today”), it might be the DIS-honesty tax, which I can see would be a lot lot worse, having to do with lawyers and unspeakable things and places.
After that, I realized I had a choice of either flipping out and becoming totally paranoid and having a bad day and maybe many bad days and then a vicious cycle and I get sick again; or, I could take the other road and have lunch.
I hadn’t eaten anything besides tortilla chips and cheese for three days, because I have felt too lousy to have an appetite let alone cook.
So I made a pot of ramen noodles with all kinds of good-for-you stuff in it.
Listen: I’ve been living in this camper for going on two months now, and layers of civilization have peeled off me like a snake shedding its skin. In other words, I have become a Neanderthal woman.
I’m sitting in the passenger’s side captain’s chair eating ramen noodles out of the pot (why dirty a bowl?) when a knock comes at my half-open side door.
“JEEZEZ!!!” I thought for sure they were right there, brandishing the warrant, handcuffs go on, click, and off to the new county lockup.
“I’m sorry to scare you,” said my mom, brandishing a tin of cookies with a card taped to it. “I wanted to wish you a good journey.” She hands me the tin. “They’re gluten free, every last one of them!” She had on her beatific high beams. Not to be trusted, but you have to roll with it.
“Oh thank you! That’s very thoughtful!” (Holy shit, am I relieved, for the moment anyway.
I see her glance inside the RV. Piles of laundry cover most of it. It’s been so humid here, everything has gotten musty and I must wash it before it gets genuinely moldy. I try to explain that to her. She looks puzzled. She’s lived here for over 40 years, and she’s used to everything being damp and smelling musty.
She knows not to touch me. I feel a pang of wistfulness, having a mother who feels like acid or hot lead to the touch.
I notice that she has been spiffing herself up a lot these days. Better haircut, makeup, a spring in her step. Widowhood has done her good. Everybody’s different, I always say.
So she waved kind of sadly, and left. I guess she might have been wistful too…
And then I looked down and noticed my half-eaten lunch, still in the pot I cooked it in, looking and smelling inviting. I ate it all up. It was only after a few hours that it sunk into my head:
Dear God, my mother would rather be drawn and quartered than to eat out of the pot. It must have really distressed her, stuck her as odd, pointed out to her that she knew I was odd but not THIS odd…..
Then I thanked the Lord that this home on wheels gives me the freedom to be exactly who I am.