This morning I awoke with a stomach ache.
Normally I have the constitution of an ox, but everyone has an off-day. Something I ate the night before must have disagreed with me, or perhaps a particular bacterium in the labyrinth of my intestines found a way to be fruitful and multiply to the detriment of its ecosystem. I don’t care to speculate.
Whatever the underlying cause, I heard my alarm go off, and in the time it took to silence its shrill nagging –before my eyes were even open– I was immediately aware that I was uncomfortable.
To be honest, I was more than just uncomfortable: I was in something approaching real pain, and for a moment of groggy panic I felt helpless and hopeless, as if this sensation in my belly was a reinvented status quo, an unwelcome new forever as fixed and eternal as the stars themselves.
Then it happened: There is a transitory period after sleep but before true wakefulness where one can make a leap of pure imagination as easily as flipping a switch on a wall can illuminate a room. I had such a flash of insight this morning.
For an aching instant of self-indulgence I created a nostalgia for a time extrapolated from the earliest moments of our common but forgotten shared experience. My thoughts lingered longingly and lovingly on the concept that were I still an infant in the cradle, I would be perfectly within my rights to cry at the top of my lungs, and that sound alone would provide the answer to my discomfort.
What am I talking about? Let’s take my premise and extend it to its logical conclusion: Were I to cry –not just like a baby, but as a baby– eventually someone infinitely bigger and stronger and older and wiser than I am would come into the place above my contorted, emoting face. Between my screwed-up eyelids and through my tears I would see this giant try to comfort me. Over my blubbering I would hear cooing and clucking and shooshing designed only to soothe my need for sonic output and compensate for the still-unknown root of my grievance with the cruel universe that was inflicting physical anguish and woe upon my selfish and petulant self.
This titanic source of unequaled compassion and authority will pick me up effortlessly, ask me what was wrong in a voice familiar to me since before I had ears, try to feed me without expecting me to actually eat, and then perhaps –exasperated at my lack of cooperation without my understanding the hopeless frustration motivating the action– I’ll be taken for a soothing dance around the room while songs written twenty years before my birth are gently crooned to me in something between a whisper and a murmur.
Motown? British Invasion? Rock and Roll back when that was the full and complete term? It doesn’t matter, really. Someone who loves me is reaching into their tone-deaf happy place in an effort to make me feel better with the gibberish words and soothing melodies that make them feel better. The untrained sound coming from the bottom of their throat is imbued with nothing but love, and that is a dazzling distraction from the unwanted pressure pressing within a hands’ breadth of my navel.
The back of my head fit into the palm of this gentle giant’s hand, but that is as comfortable and natural to me as being suspended weightless in fluid –something I’ve done for longer than I have felt the sun upon my face.
Of course, any bodily function I produce that cease my wailing will be greeted –nay, heralded and championed!– as a blessed feat and a miraculous accomplishment, worthy of song and story.
I will be rocked and bounced and jiggled until I reward my caring goliath with a toothless, bubbling smile. That gummy grin signals the happy conclusion of my distress. It is reward enough for the outpouring of affection I have solicited.
My gargantuan benefactor will not leave me until my discomfort is no longer worthy of comment. That is the holy covenant I enjoyed –that we all enjoyed at one time or another– when we were babies.
Of course, I did not awake in swaddling clothes this morning. My bed does not have bars to keep me in. No plastic effigies of mechanical marvels and heavenly bodies dance and twirl from suspending string above my head. No soft spot graces my skull any longer, and when my parents talk about me in the third-person within my earshot, I usually get offended.
I awoke this morning with a stomach ache.
I got up and went to work.
There were perks to being an infant.
Note: This is the first blog post I ever wrote entirely via BlackBerry. Cheers!