I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, which is probably how I came to have three colds in three months. It’s infuriating to me, this having three colds in three months, because I’m not a particularly “sick” person. I can go years without so much as a sniffle and then suddenly bam, bam, bam, three colds in three months and before you know it I’ve bought stock in Nyquil and turned into one of those people who carries around their own tissues, and I’m not talking about a discreet little packet of tissues, I’m talking about a box. Ever carried around a box of tissues? You look like an idiot. Plus it’s very unwieldy, a box of tissues. Doesn’t fit in most purses, doesn’t go with most outfits. Stupid accessory, really. I should attach a chain to a box of tissues, sling it over my shoulder like a tote bag, and make a mint. There you go, you can have that idea for free. Tissuepurse! Tissurse!
It sounds weird, but I can pinpoint, to an exact second, the moment I got this cold. I was walking down the street in London last Tuesday, on my way back to the office after picking up a sandwich, and a man right in front of me sneezed. He was walking and I was walking, and so because I didn’t realize it until it was half a millisecond too late, I walked right into the sneeze.
Isn’t that gross? Isn’t that the grossest thing you’ve ever heard? It was like a spritzer of a sneeze, a fine mist of mucusy raindrops. If you closed your eyes, you might think it had been a spa treatment. I felt like a bunch of carrots at the grocery store, the ones they keep under those tiny sprinklers and spray every thirty minutes to keep them fresh.
This cold, by the way, is a particularly British cold. People think I’m crazy when I tell them that---“a British cold? Really, you can tell? Hey, you do know you’re only supposed to take two Dayquil at a time, right?”---but I swear it’s true. There is something about this cold that just makes me feel like I should be experiencing it in the damp grey gloom of a British February, with the rain throwing it down outside. Something sinusy, I think. I can’t explain it. It just feels British. (Oh, look how multicultural I am with my split identity! Even my illnesses can’t decide where they’re from. )
I'm over the worst of it now, pretty much, but there was a point a few days ago where I had lost both my sense of taste and my sense of smell. This resulted in a strange condition whereby food became simply a means to an end. I could tell I was hungry when my tummy rumbled. I could tell I was full when I shoved something into my mouth and it stopped. It was a very weird, anaesthetized sensation to be so far removed from the enjoyment of my food. I liked it much better when my sense of taste came back and I could actually appreciate that cookie putting a lifetime on my hips.
The cold, I'm sure, was also exacerbated by jetlag. On the flight back from London to San Francisco last week, I didn't sleep a wink. And I was upstairs on the plane, you guys. Upstairs on the plane! I had to climb stairs to get to my seat, which was actually really nice in theory (isolation! fanciness! a sense of superiority!) but maybe not so much in practice because it took ages to get off. Most of the people in my cabin, you see, were really old people. I'm not sure why they put the old people upstairs---or me with all the old people---but it took them forever when we landed to get off the plane. Also, all the old people constantly ordered cups of tea, which is the sort of thing you can do in Upper Class and when they dimmed the cabin lights at 6pm UK time, the old people all went straight to sleep.
I didn't go straight to sleep. I just lay there and lay there and lay there. In Upper Class, they'll make your seat into a bed for you---it involves a complex series of buttons that need to be pushed in order for everything to flip and whirr and buzz satisfactorily--and top it off with crisp white sheets and big puffy white duvet. I lay under that puffy white duvet and I lay there and lay there and lay there and lay there, and all the old people were asleep around me, and I just lay there, trying to get to sleep and having to blow my nose every roughly thirty-five seconds.
Finally, I decided to listen to one of the meditation podcasts that were on the airline's entertainment system, one called "Get to Sleep in 20 Minutes" which was all IF YOU AREN'T ASLEEP IN 20 MINUTES, WE'LL RUN NAKED THROUGH THE PLANE SINGING JUSTIN BIEBER SONGS, THAT'S HOW CONFIDENT WE ARE. The problem was, though, that I couldn't take it seriously. The narrator's voice was sloooow and sooooothing, and the second or third thing she said was "imagine you are navigating a canoe down river" (except it was more like "imaaaaagine you are naaaavigating a canoooooooooooe down a riiiiiiver") and when I heard that I was all "screw this, I would never navigate a canoe down a river" because seriously, I can't imagine anything more stressful. I know nothing about canoes! Why would I ever navigate one down a river? That's the least relaxing thing I can think of doing! I'd just be panicking all the time about how I knew nothing about canoes! Do I have a life vest? A compass? Can I even read a compass? Why am I navigating this stupid canoe anyway?
Needless to say, I was not asleep in 20 minutes.
Now that I'm home, though, I can't keep my eyes open past 10pm, and since it's now 10:42pm, I'm going to call this a night, close my eyes, and use that very technique to fall asleep. No rivers or canoes for me, though. Since we're doing happy places, I'm just going to be navigating myself down the aisles of the Alameda Flea Market. Where everything has just been marked down by fifty percent.