You can have one super power in the world, what would it be? And no, it can’t be more super powers – don’t be an ass.
I’ve thought hard about this one. It would be “beverage vision.”
What the hell is “beverage vision?” It’s where I can make any beverage of my desire appear before me. Look there—Whiskey. Wine. Coffee. Smoothie.
Or for you. When you are sad, sick, or celebratory. Beer. Tea. Champagne. Sparkling rosé, if you so desire.
We can imbibe our love and nurse our emotions.
I have been on more diets than a first-year college student.
No meat. No gluten.
Yes, gluten. Yes, meat. Organic.
But no dairy. Wait, yes to dairy, but organic.
But no MSG. No Autolyzed Yeast Extract. I eliminated those in the third grade.
What is Autolyzed Yeast Extract? Hell if I know. But it sends me straight to the ER.
I can eat gluten again? But low fiber. No fiber? Low fat? Low carb? High protein?
Soft food. I think that’s the current one.
The hell with it, give me the fries.
And to hell with all these diets, and that feeling of nausea. May I take for granted the feeling of fullness—
My body did not always treat me this way. I use to nibble and indulge it all. But not today. Today I haven’t indulged a thing.
Catherine brings me soup. She set flowers on my table. She brings some new life into my home. After pouring broth into the bowl with care, I watch her hands steady the spoon and walk it to me on the couch. Catherine sits in the chair in my living room. Without my glasses all I see are her long limbs and curly hair. She knows not to ask questions about how I feel—how I feel brought her to me. The conversation drifts casually on to the Kardashians and what outfit Kourtney is wearing—because it's absurd and should be talked about.
I am in one of those seasons. My body cannot hold food. It cannot hold itself. So Catherine has come, broth in hand. Trying to hold all that she can. And despite being slender in frame, she seems to be able to hold my body, my home; my relentless mind in one scoop of her arm.
The taste of food, tainted by what I know will come of it, vanished for a moment. When I lift the spoon to my mouth, I barely taste your soup. It tastes like love. And I have never tasted this before.
In a post-op room, with walls made of curtains, I failed to dress myself. My drugged legs would not cooperate. After several disappointing attempts to operate the simple engineering of pants, Casey, 8 inches and 40 pounds smaller than me, took control. Between my medicated antics she coaxed my limbs into their vestiges. Until she stops half way, clutching my shirt and my modesty she stares at me down and declares without prudence, “you have amazing boobs!” In seconds I am a heap on the bed—my body uncontrolled (once again) in laughter and we both notice our dear friend Scott scooting his feet swiftly from the fabric partitions.
I remember only a few things from that day: Casey’s compliment, talking extensively about my fear of clowns on ride home, and Scott making Casey and me dinner in my 600 square foot apartment as I lay out on the couch. Food laced with laughter.
When Isaac visits, he brings poetry and Locopops. When he reads by my bedside, my eyes get heavy. Not with sleep but with peace. He brings books of poetry, as we have established that as either a shared interest or my favorite genre to be read allowed—likely a collaboration of the two. He reads slowly—cautiously—offering attention to the words in a way I think the author would hope for—appreciative of every comma. I eat my popsicle and enjoy feeling refreshed. And when He finishes the poem, the stanza, the small vignette, his mouth folds up at the corners, his eyes crinkle, and he lets out a beguiling laugh while staring down at the page asking, “What does that mean!?” I open my eyes and cannot be more thankful for the pieces of conversation that follow. It’s a subtle but meaningful distraction from the IV pole, the hospital sheets; the pervasive smell of synthetic lemon that lingers in the air.
Only having turned 21 a few weeks before graduating college, one could still smell the teenager on me. Naomi and I travailed the Lake Erie coast that June every moment I was freed from my home of the month—the Cleveland Clinic. I have been to the Emerald City, and I took my friends, and there I met the wizard. But while we waited to meet the wizard we drove the lakeshores and the metro parks. Noah and the Whale’s folk ballad 5 years time crooned as we cruised. (In five years time we’ll be walking around the zoo, and there will be love in our bodies and the elephants too.) We let our still teen-girl arms dangle out the car windows and sang the lyrics as we wondered where we would be in five years. We bobbed in and out of stores with teenage girl brokeness. We held on unashamedly to our teenage girl dreams and ordered beers at the local bar with teenage girl insecurity. This was because the Emerald City was not a place to be a kid anymore. We did not meet endeared costumed people who would spiff us up and roll out the carpet. Instead, I was dressed down, and Naomi held my very teenage girl hand as I went through my first round of tests without my mom in the room. A surreal rite of passage into adulthood. (And it was fun fun fun when we were drinking--It was fun fun fun when we were drunk--And it was fun fun fun when we were laughing). We were no longer kids, teenagers, and we felt it together in that moment. After we drove, with Lake Erie to the North and the Parks to the South to a small bar and ordered one beer to share and didn’t talk about our dreams. We didn’t talk about our future, but played Scrabble. Silently rearranging the tiles, exchanging sips, theses frustration couldn’t also be talked down or dreamt away. The Wizards would not give us answers. With the knowledge of our fresh college degrees, that June we also learned the balm that a cold beer and a friend can give to cull some of life’s deeper disappointments.
If I do have super-powers, (Lupus-powers some might call them) it’s drop of the hat biologic vulnerability—the ability to bring strangers together in shared concern over another’s human frailty and store managers into an instant panic about a lawsuit. Look at you mister, in the candle aisle in this fair Target. We stand here, you and I, contemplating very different evenings with these here candles. We are subconsciously bonding over candles. Maybe we bonded stronger than we thought because BAM, my blood pressure drops and you are now asking me for my name and if I need water and offering the care of a caretaker to a beloved or a babysitter to a child. Or maybe it’s not the mister in the Target; maybe you are my coworker or my colleague or some stranger at a bar who assumed I was drunk after that one sip.
I do not have super powers. I cannot make a beverage appear before you.
I cannot will it. I have tried and will, for the rest of this life, continue to try to have beverage vision. Because I will never relinquish the idea that beverage vision would be the greatest of the super powers.
But I have found those with the power at their fingertips.
They offer their sweet nectar freely, abundantly, with love.
And with them, I imbibe our love and nurse our emotions.