Last week, Sis-in-Law M and Niece M arrived in the wee hours of the morning and battled back the startlingly huge heap of loneliness that had engulfed me since I regained independence post foot surgery.

It was their first time visiting Boston. Familiar faces in a familiar city, but yet, an unfamiliar pairing.

They saw me and my apartment with new eyes. I saw my city with new eyes. They traveled to places they’d never been before. I traveled to places I’d been before, but with an unsteady gait. Sightseeing redefined.

We shared stories and laughter and pictures and food and directions and expectations and cabs and bus schedules and a bucket full of coke in a souvenir Fenway cup. Art museums x2 and empty frames and my own wall of art showcasing Niece M’s talent and jelly candy crush and emojis and Fenway and an almost no-hitter and my walking cast and waiting waiting waiting for public transportation and quiet nights in and comfy clothes and cards and movies and talking and learning and being in the same time zone as my long distance family.

Doing the most family of family things: spending time together. A gift not un- or under-appreciated.


Our time together was more limited than originally planned (due to my slowly healing foot), but we made the most of the time we did have. It was within those minutes and hours together that the daily details of our lives were revealed. Questions asked and answered and bit by bit understanding took shape. Overlapping old memories and stories. New memories and stories. Learning who they are now and who I am and what they would be doing right now if they were home. Picturing them there. Reveling in them here.

Honesty. Lots of honesty.

In the wee hours of another morning, my ears heard a rustling and my bleary eyes saw motion. “Sorry sorry sorry,” I stage whispered as turned on all the kitchen lights. “I think I saw a mouse.”Having woken up on the air mattress on the floor, aka way closer than I ever wanted to be to a mouse, I stood on the misplaced ottoman and vowed never to touch the floor again. My hands jittered and I typed all caps lock messages to my super and the girls offered encouragement from the safety of the bed.”Gross gross gross gross gross.” I aimed my flashlight at the stove the likely place of entrance/escape and hoped mice were afraid of light. My stomach swirled and churned. Part mouse related, part “the girls are leaving me soon” related. I turned off the flashlight and grabbed a bowl to throw at the mouse should it reappear.

It made sense at the time. #Exhaustion.

Floor and counter spaces opened up as they collected their things. The emptiness of my apartment echoed in my heart. I guess, at least, I have the mouse for company?!

And potentially a cat. Yes. I’m definitely getting a cat now. Immediately.

Families. Tricky sticky bunches of love. I want all of it and more of it and why can’t we all live in the same neighborhood and be loud and messy and in each other’s business and see each other all the time and be so intermingled unfamiliarity is a word that only has meaning in a foreign language.


adventures of cathy and abby

It’s fortunate my mom has a grand sense of adventure because foot surgery is not for the faint of heart, especially, and including, the caregiver(s).

I learned to walk using crutches. Then a walking cast. It was a momentous day when 18 days post surgery I reached the bottom of my parents’ driveway. Checking the mail has never been so exciting. Mom learned the art of city driving and how to find and claim a parking spot on the street. She also figured out how to use a pedestrian in the crosswalk as a means of blocking traffic so she could make a turn.

I learned how to be patient, how to be dependent, and how to ask for help. Those were tough lessons. Mom learned my kitchen, my front staircase, my back staircase, the laundry machines in the basement, my neighborhood.

I learned the angles of my studio apartment and the places crutches could fit and how not to rest them against the doorway because they’ll crash onto the floor and at 3am it’ll sound like a gun shot and what my bed feels like after 23 hours in it. Mom learned the contents of my “pantry” and my fridge and could whip up a meal or snack to satisfy her pain addled daughter.

I learned how to install two different DVD players. Mom learned how to install a new toilet seat. Which she did like a boss!

Mom learned how to eat at the bar. And how to order a drink not on the menu. And how to turn down a free drink and then be told it’s on the house. I learned I can still drive because my right foot is healthy. It’s my left that (was) encased in the cast / walking cast.

I learned how important physical and mental balance are. Everyone had to walk on eggshells around my physical immobility and emotional instability. That lesson re: patience came in handy here. Mom had many of her own questions about my recovery, the prognosis, and the eye glasses my doctor was wearing when he removed the stitches. He was quite chatty during that appointment.

Mom: That was nice of him to share so much about his travels.

Me: I thought it was a bit much.

Mom: I mean it was kind of him to spend so much time with you.

Me: It’s probably because he has a crush on you.

Mom: *laughs* If you say so. I thought it was cute you instructed him to give you bad news so I’d stay longer.

It’s true. This was the one time I wished for bad news so there’d be a reason for Mom to stick around and have more adventures.

convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #130


*post learning how to walk and climb/descend stairs on crutches, the PT wheeled me back to the recovery room*

Nurse: Welcome back. You’re all set with the crutches?

Me: As all set as I’ll ever be.

Nurse: So glad to hear it.

Me: I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready for those 50 stairs up and into my apartment.

Nurse: I cannot stop thinking about that. I’m going to worry about this for the rest of the day.

Me: Me too.

Nurse: Maybe you could find some cute, strong looking guy on the street and have him carry you up.

Me: Or I could call the fire department.

Nurse: They’d definitely help you.

Me: And here I’d been trying to use a dating app. All I needed to do was get foot surgery and have millions of stairs to climb.

Nurse: It’s a unique strategy all right.

The pain meds were wearing off, but the effects of the anesthesia lingered, and the anxiety piled on as my brain remained hazy, fuzzy, and overloaded. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, I contemplated my future. Which included crutches and a desperate need for a sense of humor.