ROAD WORK AHEAD

My grandfather died.

He was 103 and had an amazing life. He died peacefully in his home just like he wanted. I am at his beautiful Florida home as a self appointed organizer and have ended up staying for almost a month. It feels indulgent and a little bratty, but after this loss of my dear line leader, I am relishing in it.

Why the hell not? When will I ever get this chance again? I say this to myself as I have now changed my return home flight date three times.

Besides losing my fearless leader, I have, like so many of us, lost a business that will never recover. The traumatic events of this saga we call Covid feel like there is no end in sight and if I can have an excuse to get away from it all for as long as possible, then so be it.

Here I am. With lists after lists. Doing and more doing. Catching up on some downtime. Helping my family clean out cabinets and drawers of a life well lived. I am an overachiever and being here solo for a solid month has been one of the most rewarding gifts my grandfather could have given me. I find myself stirring the pot of life, feeling in some ways what it feels like to be retired. This has been an eye opener of looking at my life from a different perch.

In my quest to fulfill an absurd amount of goals … workout every day, catch some rays, do a puzzle, write, read, go to the beach, organize the book I have been working on, reorganize all of my grandfather’s stuff, eat healthy….blah blah blah, I found myself sleeping one day this week until 8:00am! I can’t remember the last time I slept that late. I am a notorious early riser. 8:00 am is like noon for me. But I said to myself that I must have needed the sleep.

I waddled over to the big remote control recliner that was my grandfather’s
go-to chair for the last few years of his life to enjoy some reading and writing time. Then out of nowhere (or now here depending on how one looks at it) and washing machine head starts spinning.

Alayne, you said you were going to work out today, now you are just sitting around, you always break your own rules… get off your ass and do some exercise…. I found myself saying to myself. What I wished I would have said instead was, Alayne, shut the fuck up, maybe you are just tired and you need to sit on the recliner and be tired. Can being tired actually be something on your never ending list for a change?

But I didn’t say that. Instead, like every over achiever, I got up and went for a bike ride to quiet that nagging voice that never seems to sleep. Full disclosure I did not bring my phone because I find it distracting, nor did I wear a helmet. Yes, tsk tsk away, I deserve it.

And I admit that it would soon prove to be one of my less intelligent decisions because 8 miles later I got into a pretty serious bike accident. If I had my phone, I could have taken a picture of the situation. I could have called someone. But I did not.

I veered off the bike path I was on to challenge myself a bit in my ability to find a different path. As I made my way down the sidewalk there was a very large construction sign haphazardly lying in the path so to avoid it I skirted around it and got back on the sidewalk without incident.

As I continued down the path, I realized it would be ending, forcing me to travel on the highway bike path and because I didn’t have a helmet on I decided against it so I turned around.

As I approached the construction sign I went around it again but when I tried to get back on the path I misjudged the curb height. My bike tire caught and off I flew. My left leg instinctively braced for the fall and I heard my knee go ‘POP.’ I found myself on my back lying there in utter disbelief.

My knee was screaming. So was my ego, but at that point I didn’t even care because all I thought about was I have no phone, I am lying on my back in Florida and I am 8 miles from my house. A very shitty situation. At least ten cars drove my me and yet no one stopped.

As I lie there on the ground, I realized that I had to get up and get back on the bike. I glanced over my shoulder to scold the sign that had led me to this prone place.

So like Kerri Strug’s 1996 Olympian act of landing on an injured ankle to score the gold medal, I got up slowly by going on all fours to make this happen, not one of my finer moments. As I got up my knee buckled as if to remind me, Take your time and get back on the bike and be slow and deliberate about it.

The song, I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down started looping in my head. Turkey vultures were following me home circling the bright blue sky. Cardinals were singing. I knew I would get home, but it wasn’t going to be pretty. Eight agonizing miles later I got to my house and had a crying meltdown. Being alone in a big house away from your home with an injury is frightening and humbling.

Frankly, I am done with the humility lessons. I get it. I’m good. As luck would have it though, my grandfather’s house is completely set up for a leg injury. Automatic remote control recliner chair, no carpeting, one floor, walk in shower, fancy ice packs and leg wedges to raise your legs, walkers, wheelchairs, you name it, it was like pharmacopia for injured legs.

I got to see my grandfather’s world from his view since he didn’t have the use of one of his legs from his stroke reinforcing my belief that there are seldom random coincidences.

I surely didn’t want to go to a Florida hospital. I had done a great job at staying away from the masses here in Covid land. My aunt reminded me of her dear friend who is a master physical therapist and she kindly offered a virtual consult with me. Angels among us for sure.

To add to my already good fortune of glass half-full looking, it was even a bit of a cold spell in Florida saving me from the agony of missing beautiful beach days. I licked my wounds. I felt my grandfather saying to me, Why are you always moving? Why can’t you just sit down and stop doing? Enjoy the view of this house from the comfort of a big lazy boy. Stop. Stop. Just Stop.

That cliche, Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans came to mind. Fortunately I had a virtual session with my therapist on the books on the day of my injury so we talked a lot about the middles of things.

For me it has always has been either Yin OR Yang. What about the sweet spot, the nectar in the middle of that? Is it even possible to acknowledge that the nectar is the delightful sweetness of finding the middle in the either full throttle, full steam ahead whirlwind or the complete shutdown complacency boredom of the full on doing nothing.

What I have learned this soon to be a month of separation from all things alayne white world is that the middle of things is a desirable place. My friend Stacey reminded me about anchoring my thinking, Alayne, the nectar is ….. What? She asked. Peace, I replied with zero trepidation. Right now. How I am living. Feeling sort of what retired life will feel like. Living exactly as I am living right now for as long as I am living. Not living for a time when it will all be better later.

Better is now.

For the last 11 months since the shutdown that changed everything I have been in full steam ahead working harder than I have ever worked in my life. But maybe the ultimate gift my grandfather has given me is to relish in the doing of nothing.

As I recall the sign that led me to this place, its original words were ROAD WORK AHEAD; however, the word work was blacked out. What the sign really said was ROAD AHEAD.

I like that.

Image for post
Isabelle and Herbie Horowitz, 71 years of marriage, 2 of the best humans in my entire life. RIP and THANK YOU.

4 Responses

  1. Alayne

    I enjoyed this piece, you write very well. Have you ever considered writing novels, such as romance etc.

  2. Beautiful words, Alayne.

    “As we step out of the way
    new things are born”
    -No seed ever sees the flower. Zen teaching

    from The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield

    1. Hello Denise, thank you for that lovely gesture of a quote, though in this case i don’t know if I stepped out of the way as much as fell, but i love the notion of this zen teaching you sent.

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self proclaimed lover of all things beauty, business + lifestyle, I write because it feels good.

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