May 14, 2014

The Inactivist Manifesto: Part 1, Duration

I've been thinking of writing this for a very long time.

I take that back. I've been thinking of writing something like this, and now I am writing it. And now I've written it and it's not what I expected to write at all.

The very long, or very short duration of time unfolds as it feels.

It feels like a very long time since I scratched this mosquito bite. It stretches my skin taut in a purple and dark red swollen mound, the hard mound encircled in a blood red ring. I limp because it's on my calf muscle and is filled with so much fluid, the histamines rushing to the scene of the mosquito's salivary entrance into my body, that when the muscle flexes it hurts. The pain overrides the itch throughout the day, leaving me aware only of a bodily swelling that I long to ice. But at night, when I try to sleep, when I pull the covers over my legs, heat builds. The blanket gently presses into my skin a heightened awareness of the subtle roughness of woven cotton. A frantic itchiness moves my body into action. I don't register this, only wake to find myself already scratching my skin raw. My hand's reaction began before I regained consciousness. Now awake, I go to the bathroom and apply a cooling spray of generic benadryl, topped with a pain relief and anti-itch cream, also Rite-Aid brand, and finish it all off with a cool compress to soothe the whole situation. It goes on like this for days.

In those nighttime moments, after the applications of the spray and cream and ice, I try to not touch it anymore. I try to allow these medicines to do their work. I hope they work fast and effectively. I hope they do their job well. I hope they deliver on their promises. It feels like a very long time.

Also, there is never just one mosquito bite. I have seven like this. Calf, ankle, foot, forearm, back, other thigh, all bitten in multiples. Later this summer, in another city, I would be bitten on the sole of my foot.

The female mosquito slips its mouth onto my skin, punctures my flesh, sucks out a tiny feast of blood to ingest the proteins needed to make bug babies: more mosquitoes which will come out of the puddles and wet places in the hot times and interrupt the pace of my life, or yours. With these painful, itchy, ugly welts that always leave a scar, I am reminded of my permeability. To do my work and keep up with the pace of my tasks I depend on a medicine cabinet shelf full of concoctions to soothe the reaction of my body to its environment.

The time of the mosquito bite is a hot time, a time of sweat and easy lethargy. I'm in the South trying to work, but at the end of the day, when all my running around has only served to increase the swelling, and now I can't sleep through the night, I realize that the world outside my body is trying to tell me something: just recline.


Syed said...

I know exactly where you're coming from (literally and metaphorically!). With the bug bites I treat it like a test of meditation, allowing yourself to lie there and just embrace the itching feeling, let it be there, really try to feel it and understand it, without moving, without itching, without doing anything. Just breathe and be aware of it.

On another level I think you always need to take that time to readjust and rest, sometimes the world forces you to do it because you've been running so long you forget that sometimes you just need to sit still and pay attention.

Holding a giveaway on my blog for copies of three of my favourite books should you be interested!

Anonymous said...

love this article, girl you can write. you know feelings when you feel it