writing prompt

Write about the best time you were sick.

I like this prompt because of the contradiction between being sick (which is not usually considered to be a good thing) and the condition that you have to write about the best time which implies a good thing. Finding the good in the bad. I also like this exercise because there are so many different possibilities, morning sickness comes to mind, it could be you went in for something minor and discovered something major in time to save you, you may have met someone special while you were sick, or just skipped school, the scare of being ill may have forced you to reassess your values, who knows where else this topic might go.

For my own take on this, the first thing that comes to mind is that Zen parable where a man is being chased by a tiger and he comes to a cliff and starts to climb down. About a third of the way down he sees two more tigers emerge below licking their lips and waiting for him to fall, he looks up and the first tiger is still there drooling. Then the vine he is holding onto comes loose and drops him a few feet more. So he is dangling by a vine with hungry tigers above and below and these two white mice crawl out to the vine and start nibbling on it. Just then he notices that right at arms length there is this big bright red wild strawberry, and it was delicious.

I’ll dedicate this free-write to Chris Jarmick, because he picked the restaurant.

I felt fine before we left, maybe a little hot, but nothing that alerted me. We were leaving Burning Word in Leavenworth, Lana was driving, and I started to feel a little off, a little too hot. Of course there was snow in the mountains and the heater was on and there was nowhere to stop so I ignored it. I didn’t realize that I had the kind of stomach virus that makes you explode from both ends. I didn’t figure that one out until we were in about the middle of Steven’s Pass, which may as well be a hundred miles in either direction to the nearest restroom. I am feeling tired and now I’m sure I’m feverish and without warning I suddenly had to go. Two things came to mind, I won’t be able to hold this in for more than a minute or two, and that this is the most embarrassing thing to happen to ever happen to me. Then it got more embarrassing. Em Bare Ass ing. Begging Lana to find a restroom didn’t help because there was none, and the choice became apparent, in the car or on the side of the road. Did I mention it was rush hour? There were a lot of cars going by, all looking at me I’m sure. So the first spot with a guard rail to hide behind we stopped, it was actually a cement barrier so there was a little privacy. I certainly left my mark on Steven’s Pass. So there I was squatting on the side of the road holding on to the barrier to keep my balance taking a shit three feet away from a thousand foot drop on one side and traffic rounding the curve on the other. And when I didn’t think that I could possible get more embarrassed, someone pulled over right behind Lana and started fiddling with their phone, so I’m sure there’s a YouTube video out there somewhere. I have never been more miserable, I was sick, insanely embarrassed, and hating myself for not having being able to anticipate the future and avoid this situation.

Then the wind blew. Icy and refreshing, it cooled my fever, and all at the same time I noticed the wind, how good it felt on my legs, and how crisp and clean the air smelled, I saw sunlight leak through the overcast and I saw the view. I have lived in Washington my whole life, but I don’t think that I had never seen so many trees before. I just kind of waited there amazed at the view and enjoying the wind and the coolness, all other issues forgotten. I was where I was and I was alive and it was good to be where I was and it was good to be alive.

Not much embarrasses me anymore. I guess the moral of the story is that shit happens.

Of course later I threw up in Lana’s car, but by then we were close enough to a town to do something about it.

I just really vividly remember the difference between looking out the car window at the scenery sliding by and actually stopping and going outside (for whatever reason) and being surrounded by the scenery and being a part of it.

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1 Comment

  1. Honored! Paging Bukowski Beer Farts!!!

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