I returned to the office in purple flats.
Each sported a slightly ridiculous blossom of fabric in a matching color that mimicked the shade of my lightweight sweater. They made me happy, the soft, silly shoes, and I would look down at my feet as I hurried between meetings or propped my feet up while taking phone calls.
I smiled and chatted between meetings and paperwork, pleased the trip had gone well, albeit differently than I expected. Our initial flight was canceled, leaving us bouncing above thunderstorms on our trek west for a late arrival that afforded barely more than 4 hours of sleep before beginning a 10 hour day of presentations. Still, there was pride in doing well, especially as I took the bulk of the responsibilities for this particular set of demands.
I tried to catch up, approving documents online, dutifully typing my password repeatedly to promise my electronic signature was valid. I took calls from customers and colleagues, trying to juggle various demands in time that was in short supply, pushing most items to next week when my schedule - now travel-free! - was more open.
I am medicated - feeling more stable and less terrified of any and all stimuli that might push me off balance. I'm working - putting in fewer hours than my typical 16/day, but more than the mere hours of effort of late that have kept me treading water while ill, granted in the absence of any major waves. Mom was here for the week and that helped as well. We talked and giggled and ran errands. We sat in the living room without speaking, the only sound the turning of pages in our respective books.
"Does this end well?" she would sometimes ask and I'd lift my eyes from the text before me to glance at the cover before nodding. "Do they find out he's someone else?" she asked and I smiled before telling her how the book ends, watching her with great affection when she nodded and returned to the story. I felt guilty when the girls called to ask when Grandma would be home. I shook my head when Dad called to tell me how much he missed her, sounding somehow lost even in his familiar environment.
"I'm so relaxed," Mom would sigh. "It's just so easy here - I can rest and read, go sit on the deck if it's sunny. There are no demands - from your dad or the girls - and no problems from your brother. It's like a vacation I'm not sure I want to leave."
And I am, despite a few problems, tremendously blessed. I do have a haven of quiet where, introverted creature that I am, I can curl up and enjoy my own company - read books, listen to music, look at blogs. Watch television, have daydreams and wear pajamas all the live-long day. It's mostly wonderful, looking through photos of places I've been and thinking of professional accomplishments which give my life a sense of purpose.
I did notice, however, that my purple flats - however pleasing - weren't perfect. It wasn't that they pinched or rubbed - the soft fabric was easy to wear and cute as a button. But the soles were smooth and didn't quite cling to the floors, be they tile or carpet, and I would slip back about an inch for every step I took.
So for every whirlwind of travel, there is a corresponding illness - sometimes mental, sometimes physical. For every maternal visit, there is a tug of guilt that I'm keeping her from others who might need her more. For every delicious nap or delectable book, there is a distinct lack of sex because I've chosen to live alone. It's not terrible - just a tiny bit lost from each step - but it's cumulative.
So I sat and stared at the note on a yellow scrap of paper, bearing the name of a psychiatrist and her office number. My doctor wrote it, looking worried and unsure of how to medicate me so that I would stop coming to her office and crying. And deciding that - for now - the pretty purple flower on the toe outweighed the lack of traction on the sole, I crumpled the paper and tossed it in the trash.