I bought the lamp when I first moved into my empty-nester apartment, and thought it the coolest thing. To turn it on, you swiped your hand over a red dot on the top of its stem, and voila! It lit up. It was also in possession of a USB port, so, with its final destination my night table, adjacent to the bed where I’d be reading and watching TV, I’d be able to effortlessly charge my phone all night long. The lamp was the final touch in the creation of my haven.
I chose it for its brilliance. I like a lot of light when I read. But a funny thing happened on the way from the neurologist. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and everything changed, including my relationship with my lamp. The light that illuminated my calm sanctuary had become a prison searchlight, like you’d see in The Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape.
My light may have always been harsh, but I hadn’t been bothered by its unsparing, intense glare. But now, post-Parkinson’s, as soon as I entered the room and flicked the switch, I became instantly depressed. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The light illuminated the entire room with its unforgiving rays. My boudoir had taken on the gloomy aspect of a crime scene.
Other changes were afoot. Activities that had once captivated me were now on the back burner…or in some instances, not even on the stove. Knitting, my passion, came not to interest me in the least, whereas at one point, I’d been eagerly daydreaming about attending The Edinburgh Yarn Festival, a knitter’s nirvana. In fact, “knitter” was a key part of my identity. If I’m not a skilled fiber-crafter, than who am I?
Other pleasures were now in retreat. Retired, my need for a professional wardrobe was no more. I gave most of my work clothes to my daughter (who I must say looks adorable in them), but I probably won’t be replacing them because I have zero interest in shopping. Another new and not entirely welcome tendency. Not even a nice new pair of earrings? Nope. How about a pretty summer sundress? Who cares?
I was an avid cook pre-Parkinson’s, eagerly combing through the New York Times Cooking section for dishes that sounded flavorful and nutritious. Now, I hate to admit it but my freezer is filled with Trader Joe’s Indian dinners, and packages of vegetable Gyozas. The missing ingredient in these lost pastimes is energy.
On the other hand, I experienced a rather odd desire the other day. Returning from a visit to a friend in Atlanta, I saw a middle-aged woman reach down to the baggage carousel to collect her luggage. On her arm swung a pristine Louis Vuitton purse. The kind I’d been dreaming about…never! At no time have I been shy about expressing my disdain for clothing and accessories that advertise their creator’s moniker. Logo attire, not for me, ever. Yet in that moment I. Wanted.That. Bag.
Did it symbolize financial security, with the stock market currently tanking? Would it be a special treat after two years during which precious few extravagances made their way into my life? The first word that popped into my head when I saw the bag was not “beautiful.” Nor was it “elegant.” No, the first term that came to mind to describe the purse was “sturdy.”
Perhaps I was drawn to a durable object because I myself am less sturdy than usual. Fortunately, in the very early stages of Parkinson’s, I remain pretty robust, able to take long walks, even though the legs feel a bit wobbly at times.
One thing is certain: I’m not purchasing a Louis Vuitton bag. That’s not who I am, or who I want to be. Plus, I can think of a thousand things I’d rather spend the money on. But maybe I can locate an equally durable, logo-free, fashionable purse that won’t break the bank, and yeah, might provide me with a little bit of a shopping buzz. Maybe I could use that teensy bit of excitement more than I’ve admitted.
Change is an inevitable part of life, but illness can hasten the process, and necessitate choices. Maybe I’ll return to my beloved hobby, but in a different fashion – simpler projects, fewer sweaters, more shawls and scarves perhaps? Or I may no longer knit at all. Who knows? I’m open to the changes because of course I have no choice. It’s a strange situation to be in, and will require patience and open-mindedness. I hope I’m up for the challenge.
Meanwhile, I notice the lighting store around the corner is having a sale. I think I’ll head over there for a lamp replacement.
If you like nice clothes but you’re on a budget, check out The Real Real. The garments and accessories are pre-owned but honestly, they’re in mint condition. And you might have a bit of fun shopping around on the site.
Several years ago, I stumbled upon a little gem of a book called Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe. It’s about two little girls who decide their family, which includes a younger brother and eccentric mother, needs the titular helmsman in order to be accepted in their snobby village. I’m reading it again for my book group, and I’ve gotta say, “Oh, those Brits! They really know how to make you laugh.” And I did, out loud and frequently, during both readings.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is one of my favorite books ever. Exquisitely written, the book captures and connects the lives of disparate people during a specific New York moment. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful.
6 thoughts on “I hate my lamp”
Another engaging blog, Andi! PS: If you like British novels, please google my cousin Julie Cohen, who is a famous English romance novel writer! (Probably not your reading cup o’ tea, but hey, she’s my cousin!)
I’m going to follow your suggestion and look for Man at the Helm. Laughing would be great!
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Can not get enough of your blog !
great recommendations as well
I love this post!! it’s amazing – so glad you kept it. Very real.
So true… apathy has crept into my life as well. Buckets of crystal beads, baskets of acrylic paint tubes… the motivation just isn’t there, with the exception of gardening. Maybe because that is a nurturing thing…
I hear you! And feel you! And be happy you have the gardening. I hope it continues to sustain you, and also that you get to feel better.
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