Wednesday, August 25, 2010

After the drought

By Julie

Have you felt as though you were walking through a long, blistering drought lately?

Has your soul felt shriveled and dried up, the thought of "producing" anything of creative value seemed like a tiresome, if not impossible chore?

In Texas and several other parts of the country, we've experienced a blistering month of temperatures over 100 nearly every day, with DFW's Monday high of 107 tying a 1952 record. June was the third hottest on record for the area. In 2000, we experienced the longest dry spell in half a century in the area – not so awful if the two previous summers hadn't been nearly that bad. 1998 sticks out in my mind as a long, horrible, dry, hot summer, where I didn't venture outside unless I had to buy groceries, and usually only after the sun went down.

I had the pleasure of spending two weeks out of the last month in Colorado, which certainly improved my chances for tolerable temperatures. A week in Breckenridge delivered highs in the mid 60s, and we almost enjoyed Denver's 95-degree heat wave.

Unfortunately the worst sinus infection I've ever experienced snuck up on me right as we left Texas and stole much of my joy over the cooler weather.

I couldn't breathe.

Being severely claustrophobic didn't help. I was in strange beds in places far away from home and my doctor's office. I didn't sleep. I paced the floors at night, counting the hours until morning when, though exhausted, I was at least moving and busy, enjoying rafting and horseback riding and other fun activities with my family.

Though I hated for the vacation and cooler temps to end, I couldn't wait to get back to my own bed. And there, I had one night of respite in the comfort of my own room, so exhausted, I doubt I moved a muscle.

"Home," I thought, dreaming my sinus troubles were a thing of the past.

But even though my doctor was able to fit me in immediately and give me a prescription for antibiotics, my condition grew worse, the heat outside fighting the air conditioning inside, combining to make my body feel it was in constant turmoil. For three nights, I paced the floors again at night, the darkness seeming to exacerbate my sense of claustrophobia at not being able to breathe, lying down to doze for a few minutes only to wake back up in a panic.

Finally, I called my doctor again Friday morning, hoping that pushing through four days on the antibiotics with no relief would be proof I'd given it my best shot.

He was able to work me in again, and I guess the agitation in my voice and face was enough to show him the main thing was to get me some sleep. He prescribed something that virtually knocked me out as well as a new allergy medication I hope will be an ongoing help.

These things made me a little sane again. They made me feel as though I could survive the (surely decreasing) period of stuffiness and horrid weather. Little by little, I've felt like I was coming back to life, even if I wasn't exactly myself.

But then came today.

I let my dog out around noon, and stood stock still in the doorway. Then I walked into my yard and turned slowly in a circle, lifting my face to the sky and spreading my arms in amazement. If any neighbors spied me over the privacy fence, they likely thought I was participating in some bizarre ritual.

It was cool.

Not only was it cool, but tiny droplets of rain landed here and there on my palms, my forehead, my lips. I yelled into my house, where my mother was watching a tv program, "It's practically BALMY out here!" I checked the temperature, and it was only 74 degrees.

And with the relief in the weather, I felt an almost immediate easing up of the muscles and spaces that allow me to breathe more freely.

I thought, "I think I can survive this thing."

Maybe this sounds like a silly, self-indulgent story about the weather and my sinuses. Maybe this even sounds like oversharing.

But this morning reminded me about how sometimes we go through a drought. With our writing. With our art. With our music.

It seems the drought might not end. We do whatever we can to free up the muse, soul searching and pacing and communing with others. But the hills and valleys and waterways we draw from to breathe life into our work fail us, blistered and dried up. We feel that the little part of us that brings us such joy has maybe even died and our lives will never be the same again.

But then, one morning, we wake up, and we step into our skin, and there's a break in the drought. It might not happen all at once, but it happens.

And we are ourselves again.

Images courtesy of Artbandito's and nickwheeleroz's Flickr photostreams, by Creative Commons License


  1. I don't find this story the least bit silly and self-indulgent, Julie. Not only can I relate to it, but find it inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Deborah. Glad you saw it that way! Looking forward to seeing you!


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