It's Thanksgiving. I'm alone. It would be a day like any other, except
it's this day; this day to celebrate attachments, family, friends,
community. Any other day, I am grateful for solitude; this wide
emptiness I need for writing.
Not all writers need this; some seem to be quite social. But I do need it. Empty day after empty day, in which to explore my insides; in which to watch my narrow outside. What Abigail calls the vertical: the going down; the going up.
The Bad Smell is back. Every year or so I have an attack of this unpleasant smell. It permeates everything. During the first few episodes, I would drag friends and neighbors through the house, trying to find its source. No one but me can smell it. Whether it's an ordinary scent that my brain decides to warp into something awful, or merely a misfire in the brain itself, I do not know. My doctor says: Wow. An olfactory hallucination. That's weird.
And it is weird, but I am not alone. A few years ago I was perusing random blogs, and came across an entry wherein the author spoke of an appointment to see a neurologist, because of a terrible smell. A quick review of old posts and her About Page told me that yes, indeed, she had chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. I checked back, and as I expected, the neurologist found nothing. So I know it's just another of the inexplicable symptoms of this inexplicable syndrome. One that is shared, but not noticed. No physician has yet wondered; no researcher has yet explored.
In the meantime, I try to cope. With each new assault, I recognize it sooner; I know there is no point in going from room to room, looking for something rotting or dead. Once, during an especially intense episode, I wrote in my journal about smelling my own death.
We writers may seem staid on the surface, but we can be melodramatic on the page.
I try to find my way to gratitude, on this day we set aside for that. And I do, often, feel grateful, and not only in the sense of sprinkling sugar on lemons. Morning light, the purry, furry greetings of my companions. The bright red head of a woodpecker in the garden. That I am sheltered and fed, where others are not; where I could well not be, if not for a largely fortunate life and the care and love and generosity of others. For this machine, on which I place my ephemeral thoughts.
I brush my teeth; I chew on pungent ginger candies; I catch myself when I begin to wander about, trying to locate that terrible smell...
The smell will go away. Tomorrow I will share a meal with a friend. Today I will talk on the phone with another, and another. The snow will melt, the gate will open freely once more, the squirrels will be fed. In the meantime, I have this moment, in which to be thankful.