Sunday, February 1, 2015
Inoculate Yourself : Thoughts from Ojai and the Writing and the Body Workshop
So, that's one of the beds in the room where I spent the weekend, and that's the sun that slanted in each morning, and that's a fan that sat unused because the air was temperate, warm in the day and just right cold in the night. I spent the weekend in Ojai at a yoga and writing retreat led by two goddesses -- Jen Pastiloff and Lidia Yuknavitch. I want to tell you about this workshop, about the glorious women I met there and the intense lives shared. I want to tell you how my body aches in the right places because of the yoga positions I strove to achieve, positions that I haven't bent toward in many months. I want to tell you that I wrote very little but was much inspired, that I cried more tears than I've cried in years. I want to tell you that I went with my friend Jody, that we shared a room and that one night we laughed as hard as I've laughed in a long, long while. I want to tell you that I've been slayed, gutted and cleansed, that if someone were to devour me tonight, I would taste rich with blood and fat and marbled muscle. I want to tell you that I felt paralyzed by fear last night when Henry called to tell me that he'd had a headache for two days. It's been nearly ten days since he was innoculated with the MMR vaccine, the second vaccine that he's received in the last six months and the only two he's received in his sixteen years. You know the story, and if you don't, you can read it here. You know, too, that those of us who chose not to vaccinate our children on the recommended schedule have been paraded in the public eye the last few weeks, have been called immoral and irresponsible, have been called out by prominent publications, have been threatened and bullied, unfriended and lectured about our stupidity. My son Henry, about as perfect a specimen of humanity as you could imagine, a young man who has weathered colds, flu, ear infections, chicken pox, who has never been on an antibiotic, who saw an osteopath one week after he was born and regularly for the next sixteen years and who was not vaccinated until this year, his seventeenth, got an MMR vaccine and developed a reaction to it. I want to tell you that yes, I felt a numb panic when he told me this over the phone last night, as I walked in moonlight in Ojai back to my room where the sun slanted in each morning. I want to tell you that even as the pediatrician said It's probably just a headache, all the justs and the rares and the statistics show and the scientists prove, I went there and there and there, way over there, the pathways in my brain dug out and laid twenty years ago, inoculated once (disease introduced), covered in leaves, the earth rich and dark from the rot, ready to be trod upon. I want to tell you that in that moment, if devoured, I would taste rich with blood and fat and marbled muscle but tough, shot through with adrenaline and cortisol. You'd spit me out.
I want to tell you that there's nothing but story. I want to tell you that we are bodies, intricate and terrible. I want to tell you that the heart is a muscle and something inexorable, unfathomable.
Here's the thing. I want to tell you. I called the homeopath. He prescribed two remedies to right the wrong.