Last Saturday a friend and I went to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). We also signed up for, and attended, an all-day symposium on the artist, his work, his influence (then and now) and his legacy.
Other than an hour of walking around studying his art early in the morning, we essentially sat in one place from 10:00 a.m. to almost 5:00 p.m.
Well, most people sat. I fidgeted.
Not because I was bored, although the afternoon panel of speakers didn’t exactly enthral me (or anyone else, for that matter from what I observed). Except for Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum Harlem, who was absolutely spectacular.
No, I kept shifting around in my chair for two reasons: First, by lunchtime my ass was completely numb. No feeling left whatsoever. Desperately wishing someone, anyone, would come over and pinch some life back into it. And also because my back was killing me.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t in excruciating pain. My back was stiff and tight which is unpleasant to be sure, but certainly didn’t require a morphine drip.
It’s interesting because it’s exactly what happens to me every Tuesday when I volunteer at the hospital. It is true I’m there a long time — from about 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is also true that the chair I sit in isn’t the most comfortable. It’s old, kind of crooked, and it doesn’t support me where I need the support. One would definitely not describe it as ergonomically designed. And, to make it worse, I’m stuck there. I can’t really get up from time to time and go for a walk because I have to be present to answer the phone and greet people.
So by the time I leave at night I’m pretty much bent in half.
Again, not writhing in agony but uncomfortable, to say the least. I really need to stretch and loosen those muscles that stiffened up during the day, but I am too sore for that. So I take a long, hot shower and then apply heat a few times during the evening, followed by an Advil at bedtime. Sometimes I’m lucky and I’m fine the next day and other times it takes another day or two before I’m feeling good again. But in those cases by the next morning I can usually do stretches once I’ve spent some time in a hot shower.
And here, my dears, is where the ‘discovery’ comes in.
During our lunch break at the symposium my friend bumped into someone she knows who was also attending and we spent some time talking with her. At one point, on a totally unrelated topic, she mentioned TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). And I realized, with a start, that for more than 20 years I also was a TIFF devotee. More than a devotee, really. I was one of the real film fanatics (crazies, let’s be honest) who bought a 50-movie pass and saw 5 to 6 movies a day for 10 consecutive days.
Not once did I ever complain about my back. Or a numb behind. Or stiff knees. Or being brain dead.
But after just sixish hours on my kiester last Saturday I needed a margarita, two days of bed rest and a heating pad.
What the hell!
I know what it is though. It finally hit me, as I was laying on my yoga mat, on the floor, trying to unclench my hip flexers and IT-bands. Life is cruel. You know where this is going, don’t you? Come on, I just gave you a pretty big clue.
Son of a bitch.
One day you’re perfectly fine, skipping merrily (and literally) through life without a care in the world. The next you just sneeze and ouch, you’ve pinched a flippin’ nerve.
There is no way I’d survive seeing all those movies now. Not unless they’d let me watch them from a prone position on the floor. Which, given what people toss down there, isn’t really all that appealing to me anyway.
Suddenly I remember hearing my mother complain about being stiff when she first got out of bed. And my father walking off the golf course rubbing his shoulder. And other ‘elders’ talking about tennis elbows and cortisone shots and creaking bones and painful joints and arthritic knees and sore toes and swollen fingers. And me wondering what the hell was wrong with them. Not relating at all.
Let me just say, I get it now.