Yesterday was “free day” at the SFMOMA, and I had plans—BIG PLANS—to go to the SFMOMA that evening!
In my mind, this outing was to be a test of my ability and endurance. I know this sounds dramatic but, I have been on medical disability leave for a bit of time, due to long-covid. I’m due to return to work soon, and I have been trying to do small activities to probe a little deeper into how I am really feeling, and what I am able to do, such as: take the dog for a mile long walk, go into the grocery store to shop (versus only ordering grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh), taking my son to school without needing to sleep after, and standing up to get through hand washing all of the dishes (versus merely making it through half the pile, and feeling too dizzy, too foggy, or too fatigued to continue).
With this “endurance test” approaching, yesterday morning I woke up excited about my evening adventure with my son, and I looked up parking information, as those memories have been long lost due to both time and covid brain fog. By 11 am, however, that extreme fatigue started to set-in, and I had to lay down. I felt more tired yesterday than I have for just over a week-and-a-half. Luckily not brain-foggy, too, but debilitating extreme fatigue that I knew my SFMOMA trip would not be happening.
I had this realization about two weeks ago that the past weeks when I have been on leave have been literally the only time in my life when I have prioritized my health, and now I don’t know if I can honestly go back to how I lived before, always making myself smaller for everyone else—everyone else’s expectations, boundaries, consequences—again. I told my son when I picked him up for school that we wouldn’t be going, and, of course, he doesn’t really care about going; the trip was for me. Staying home was even more for me, and what I needed, disappointing as that decision was. I felt down, and even knowing I was doing the right thing by putting my true need first. But, I felt very down none-the-less, especially in acknowledging this “relapse” of exhaustion.
It is hard to feel sick, foggy, tired for so long. Just the feeling of being exhausted is exhausting. I’ve barely left the house for months, because I simply can’t, and I simply can’t do most things, including drawing, either. Yesterday afternoon I was able to sit quietly—with the disappointment almost as heavy in my heart as the fatigue behind my eyes—and I work on these two birds yesterday. This piece, “Autumn Spoke,” these porcelain birds, and this necklace are all very important to me both in symbolism and intention. As this fog starts to lift, I am very much trying to write more, and so I hope to soon share in words what this work means to me and why, before you can see it in person when my solo show opens next August. Until then, just know that the symbolism here is helping me to move through some challenging spaces.
These are 2 of the 5 porcelain birds in this piece, and while I have known them for a long time, drawing them—their wings in flight—is an entirely new conversation with me, sort of like understanding that while this is the very first time in my 40 years on this planet that I have put my health first, this will not be the last. And, there will be more free days at the SFMOMA in my future.