A Conversation With Marc Ian Barasch On Illness And Healing
In the dream, there was a sacred, intelligent starfish that represented — that was — my thyroid. That was the exact language of the dream: “sacred, intelligent starfish.” And in the way that these healing dreams — sometimes called “big” or “numinous” dreams — seem to work, this one had a dimension of synchronicity with waking reality: The next day, on the spur of the moment, I went with my daughter to the Boston Science Museum, where I’d never been before. They happened to have an exhibit on starfish, and someone there put a starfish in my hand and said to me, “They can regenerate.”
Every year my back goes out. It’s like a special anniversary, which I celebrate by groaning a lot and walking around like Groucho Marx with his tie caught in his zipper. This year it happens to me in Mexico, where I rent a large, brand-new, slightly leaky, four-bedroom house for sixty dollars a month in the medium-sized town of Jerez de Garcia Salinas, about eight hundred miles due south of El Paso, Texas.
I have not been in a relationship with a man for more than a year now, a situation that has resulted in a dangerously high increase in my doughnut consumption. I eat doughnuts each time I realize, with fresh pain, that the men I’m attracted to are completely out of reach: monogamous, left-leaning, gentle-spirited, broad-shouldered carpenters with a love for the works of minor poets — and, inevitably, a family.
An off-duty fireman who had sawed a fifty-five-gallon drum in half to make a double barbecue pit, then by accident had tipped one of the halves over with hot coals. The barrel had pinned his bare feet to his deck and broiled them.
I’ve heard the story of Ralph’s bicycle accident so many times that it gets on my nerves. Ralph tells it over and over, whenever anybody asks, and even when they don’t. The story goes like this: He went out on Tuesday for his regular sixty-mile training ride. As he came down the hill off Grizzly Peak onto Claremont Avenue, the front tire of his Italian racing bike went flat. He went up on the embankment, riding on the rim. Then he lost control, went headfirst over the handlebars, and landed on his back, snapping his neck in the process.
You have a zygote — “Zoe Zachary Zygote,” your husband calls it — and the world is fuzzy and mint green, soft as lamb’s ear. And your health is much improved. After all those dark days, you have suddenly plunged into Candyland. The trees blossom with caramel apples; the sun shines its Creamsicle rays especially for you.