Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giving Me the Creaks

The alarm rings, my eyes open. So far, so good. Then I try to roll over to turn it off. I hear a strange noise from somewhere nearby, a sort of whistling, sighing, moaning followed by a grunt. I realize it's me. My body is protesting out loud. In fact, lately my body is doing a lot of things out loud that it ought to do silently, or at least surreptitiously.

I remember smirking when an older friend of my mother's apologized at the start of each visit for any graceless sounds her body might make while she was there. She creaked and crackled when she sat down, she snorted when she laughed, she farted when she stood up. "God spare me," I prayed, worried that in 30 years I'd be apologizing myself. For myself.

My prayers were not heard. You should hear the sounds with which my body entertains the world! And not only is it becoming obviously noisy, it's also behaving in other odd ways. I have to get up off the floor in stages now, rather than in one fluid movement. First a roll to one side, a push onto the knees, an obligatory grunt, then the rise to my feet, all within reaching distance of some solid object. Getting up from a sofa or a soft armchair requires a mighty push and an unladylike sound. When I try to walk after I've been sitting down for some time, I find myself taking several ungainly steps as a hunchback before I can straighten up and walk like the runway model I've always longed to be.

When I was a child my mother made me walk about with an encyclopedia balanced on my head. She said it would improve my posture. Now my head feels as heavy as that encyclopedia and lolls about on my neck when I'm tired, as though it were about to roll off to bed without me. I am subject to sudden nap jerks (especially during long and completely unnecessary staff meetings), and fall asleep well before 9 o'clock every night. I'm told I snore.

This morning I got up and looked in the mirror. I snorted when I laughed. I did not recognize the woman there and was too tired to ask her what she was doing in my bathroom mirror at 5:30 a.m. My joints creaked when I reached across the bed to straighten the quilt. I groaned while pulling on my socks. By the time I'd pulled on my boots, my coat, my hat, my mittens and picked up the shovel to clear the front path, I was huffing and puffing. I did feel more like myself once the shoveling was done and I'd returned from a brisk walk in the cold air. I ascribed the mewling noise that escaped me when I bent over to remove my boots to the cat and blamed that odd little popping sound on the neighbor's dog.

I noticed in the last few years that my hearing has diminished a tad. It's a good thing. I figure that by the time I'm 102 none of these strange bodily noises will bother me at all.