I'm sick. Not hunched- over-the-toilet-and-be-glad- if-you-can-get- back-to- bed- without-collapsing sick, but as I sit here at work during lunch, my head has that light feeling, my voice is strained and any vocal exertion leads to hacking. But I'm here. This ailment snuck up on me. Yesterday afternoon, I noticed a lingering cough, and my sinuses have been increasing all week. But this morning my body was telling me she was tired.
Nonetheless, I arrived at work, for there are things to do. I am one of those that feels like I can't afford to be home right now. We have prospective students coming in and I am coordinating all of the schedules. Today's task was to finish up schedules for those arriving outside of our regular recruitment weekend and assemble folders of information.
I needed to run across campus to the visitor's center and bookstore for some goodies. As I readied for my departure, I grabbed my cell phone and relayed my number to my co-worker, should anything needing my immediate return arise. I pocketed some lemon drops to soothe my throat. And I meant to grab some kleenex. Alas, that was forgotten. And that oversight would haunt me all too soon.
And here is where I must stop. This tale is not for the faint of heart. Queasy stomachs, beware. Stop reading now, for I will not take responsibility when you are disgusted by my desperate actions. In this narrative you will hear of disturbing uses of fiber and snow. You will question my decision to discuss such behaviors with my cyber public. You will doubt my judgment in sharing what happens to all of us but what normal humans generally keep silent about when it comes to their similar foibles. But my current malady is causing my Inner Editor to short-circuit and instead allow me to hit the 'Publish' button.
Imagine me this morning, if you will. I am all bundled up against the elements; my long wool coat, Russian-esque hat, hand-knit scarf, and leather gloves are doing their best to protect me from lake-effect snow. I am treading briskly, albeit carefully, across campus to my first destination.
Like many campuses, this one boasts wide expanses, or 'quads.' In warmer temperatures, there will be students studying or playing frisbee in the sun. Now, everyone sticks to the sidewalks -- perilous as they are, they are favored over the snow-covered grass.
I am near such an area. No buildings nearby, but my destination visible ahead. And then it begins. I begin to sniffle from all the cold, but this seems different. There is a trickle from my nose. I remove my gloves and learn the horror. My nose is bleeding. I can't remember the last time I had a nose bleed, but my setting was not conducive for a walk down memory lane. My hands are doing their best to stop the flow as I frantically try to discover a solution that doesn't involve me dripping all the way to a kleenex box. I'm grateful few people are around, and those that are in proximity are huddled in their wraps enough to be oblivious to my frightful circumstances.
The stream doesn't seem to be abating, and I'm terrified that my wool coat will announce my situation if I don't act soon. So I do the unthinkable. I take the scarf wrapped securely around my neck -- my lovely, cream-colored, hand-knitted, wool-blend scarf that I dearly love -- and I begin to bury my face in it. I try to be discriminating in this mess and covertly mop my face with one end. I arrive in the bookstore foyer, ashamed to advance into the store just yet. I step to a nearby display case, discreetly hiding my scarf as I try to determine from my reflection how my face looks. My hands look as if I have killed a man, and they are beginning to dry so that wiping them on the scarf makes little change. Near me is the exit. I walk back outside, pick up snow, and vigorously scour my hands to remove the mess. No witnesses are present, so the pink snow is the only evidence of my desperation.
I brave the entrance to the bookstore, immensely gratified that it is empty save some employees scattered around. In the cafe, I discreetly handle some napkins until I can safely ask where the restrooms are. There, in my sanctuary, I can staunch the flow. Afraid to have a repeat performance on my return trip to work, I stuff my pockets with toilet paper. After a survey of my reflection, it appears my scarf was the only sacrifice made. My face left little evidence to my earlier fate and nothing had appeared on my coat.
But such a sacrifice. Sure, it knitted up quickly in its garter stitch and thick yarn, but she was mine. Made by me, a creation I kept for myself. And how she has kept me warm, sometimes wrapped over my face so just my eyes are visible when grainy snow particles relentlessly attack, sometimes dangling freely when winter is known only by a date on a calendar and not by the brisk temperatures and bitter winds.
I tromp across campus, finishing my errands, and return with my scarf safely stowed away in a bag. I then was found bent over a sink, rinsing all evidence away. Tonight, one certain treasured scarf will find her way in some detergent and a tumble dry. Until then, I anxiously await Eric's deliverance of some chicken-noodle soup to get me through the remainder of the day.
And for those of you who stuck with me through this rendering, even while being grossed out as I discussed my olfactory issues, please do one thing: wherever you are, make sure kleenex is near at hand. Hug it close to you wherever your travels take you. In this dry air, it's only a matter of time before you too could be sharing how you got out of perilous circumstances wit.