Thursday, May 9, 2013

Driving the Car

As the owner-operators of human bodies, we all know that, sometimes, our engine lights come blinking on.

Most of the time, it's nothing: maybe we spilled some grape soda on the backseat upholstery, or got a little crack in the windshield. Nothing to worry about - just patch it up and go on our way. These are the sprains, strains and unexplained bruises of human existence. Occasionally, the motor starts making a weird noise - an unexplained lump, or a nagging sadness that won't go away. And sometimes, the black box under our hoods goes completely on the fritz. These would be your cancers, your miscarriages, your schizophrenia. Those kinds of things require some pretty intensive time in the shop.

It's good to go in for a yearly checkup, to change the oil and to ask about that nagging cough or the time a couple weeks ago, when your poop was red (Did you eat beets? You did? Well there's your answer, bub). My annual physical tune-up always feels like I have some persnickety Volvo that needs a gentle mechanic to fine-tune her in just the right way; in other words, I've had my fair share of medical thumps and bumps, and all the anxiety and fear that goes along with that.

This year, I feel both more and less unhinged about it. In other words, my Volvo is getting more mileage but she's starting to run a little smoother.

More, because my body's specific tempermentality is centered around the reproductive system (one AWOL ovary, a tilted uterus, and a tentative diagnosis of a syndrome that is linked with infertility issues), and I'm starting to realize that my baby-making window is slowly but inexorably closing. Which makes me sad, and prone to lashing out when I hear friends and acquaintances are actively and enthusiastically making the babies. I hope that, by the time I'm ready to start a family, all my parts are still in good working order. I also know that there's no real way to know until I get there. That part of the map is dark.

But I'm also feeling less tweaky about it, too. My love had told me up and down that we can make it work, however and whenever we decide to start a family, which lifts a huge load.

Moreover, I'm starting to assemble my own toolbox to take care of my cantankerous body and mind myself. I'm just a weekend hobbyist - mostly little adjustments here and there - but they have to do with jealousy, competition, and feeling like I'm lagging behind. I'll admit to feeling left out when I hear about babies and baby-making, but left out of what? Other people's bedrooms? Their relationships? I don't want to be there in the first place, guys. My Volvo body may be smelly in the sun and have a couple dents in her, but I don't let just anybody drive her.

So this year, I'm enrolling myself in a crash course on how to avoid skidding out, emotionally speaking. I've got lists from my friends about areas that I need to work on; being too hard on myself was a recurring theme. I have reading - internet printouts, books, David Foster Wallace's incandescent commencement speech - that act as streetlights as I pilot my finicky car down life's sometimes-potholed roads. Most of all, I have good friends and a good partner who can sometimes take the wheel when I can't make it on my own.