A simple cup of coffee

After the flu, the first stop on the road to recovery is a cafe.

cup of coffee_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
cup of coffee_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The oral thermometers that have sat upon my night table for more than week announced this morning – both in Fahrenheit and Celsius – that I could return to work. I consulted them several times, and the answer was beeped and rebeeped until there could be no room for doubt. Placing one shaky leg in front of the other, I wended my way to the shower stall and let the hot water wash away the remaining vestiges of bed rest and ague. It was time to rejoin the world of the healthy.
Feeling only slightly apprehensive, I turned the car key in the ignition, hoping I could remember how to drive an automatic. Everything felt so shaky, so raw, so unprecedented. After a week in bed, nothing felt completely familiar. I mean, the bank was still there and people were walking their dogs along the perimeter of the park, but there was something alien about reentering the world of timeclocks and take-out lunches, manicure appointments and rent deadlines. And although this was the first morning that my body was not down for the count in a haze of narcotic cough and cold medication, my thinking still felt a little fuzzy.
I don’t know how to take my own blood pressure, but my doctor had warned me the previous Thursday to start drinking a lot, lest I have nothing left with which to fight a secondary infection. Somehow he felt that a count of 90/56 was reason for concern. Sheesh! Standing or walking for even short periods of time still wipes me out.
I knew that it was time to test my land legs because for the first time in over a week I awoke with a nearly uncontrollable desire to drink a cup of coffee. In fact, the thought of sipping one more cup of honey-laced tea or hot water with lemon made me want to spit. Foggy as I may have been, the aroma of barista-drawn cappuccino beckoned me from several kilometers away, and when I crawled into my favorite café, the young woman at the register greeted me like an old friend. I paid for my coffee and sat in my car for the few minutes it took to savor each steaming sip. My hastily applied lipstick stained the plastic cover, but I barely noticed because I was weeping for joy. The joy of tasting – truly tasting – coffee.
Speaking of taste, apparently there is a strong correlation between tasting food and eating it. I sort of knew that but hadn’t realized that I’d barely eaten for the past week because I felt so terrible that I just didn’t feel hungry. (I had actually read about this phenomenon but didn’t think it applied to Jews.) For years I’d dreamt of fitting into a few frocks that I’d stubbornly refused to give away in the hope of one day reclaiming the dress size. As of yesterday, however, I have an expanded wardrobe! Never mind that the clothing is hopelessly outdated because I’m certain that at any moment neoncolored stirrup pants coupled with a cropped sweater complete with enormous shoulder pads is going to make a powerful comeback. Point being, if anyone could have told me last month that pasta in mushroom cream sauce or a 300-gram entrecote steak and baked potato would cause me to turn green before turning away, I would have guffawed directly into their faces and said, “Try me!”
Much of my writing seems to deal with the good that life offers, but I must shamefully admit that over the past week I was having a hard time seeing the smiley-faced forest through the heavy-branched trees. Feeling as though I might expire at any moment, I was having lots of trouble remembering the blessings and laughter that pepper so much of my existence.
Chipper children entered and exited my curtained bedroom and regaled each other with the events of their respective days, but I was not reacting in kind. In all seriousness, I thought of people I know who struggle with chronic illness and prayed that I would never join their ranks; that I might only have this wee glimpse into miserable sickness and come out the other side as a more sensitive incarnation of the woman who initially fell ill. My fiancé has often commented upon how much he admires my zest for life and seemingly endless reserves of energy and this, too, caused me to feel almost embarrassed for being such a disappointment!
Tiptoeing away from the winter flu season, I’m determined to exercise both humility and continued caution, lest I suffer the dreaded relapse that my doctor has so sternly warned me about. So far, I’m still too weak to assess whether or not I’ve become a “better person” because prudence demands that I continue to guard my fragile health. The fact that I’m a thinner person is bringing me great joy, and I hope that some of the discipline required to retain that status will be a byproduct of the unpleasant experience.
Never one to offer unsolicited advice, I’d still encourage anyone reading this tale to up your intakes of vitamins C and D, drink plenty of liquid, rest, and remember that when you hear music, stand up and start to boogie.
Speaking for myself, I’m beginning to hear the melodies pulsating in the background, and even though I know that it is good to take things slowly, no doctor can order me to stop the gentle tap-tap-tapping of my joyous, dance-starved legs.
Oh, one more thing: When you order your next cup of coffee, take an extra moment to bow your head, inhale and say, “Thank you.” Because on some days, life just doesn’t get any better than that!