The river’s mostly clear, now, the last car sized sheet of ice having slid quickly by a few minutes ago. Now the water’s calm, smooth save for the flecks of ice that seem tiny through my window. I know the first sheet was near the size of a house, the smaller pieces likely the size of cars or large pets. My distance from the river obfuscates my sense of it as it does with everything else.
I haven’t yet managed to speak with my sifu about my health. I’ve managed, accidentally, to tell several of my teachers and some of my classmates. I was good, at first, answering the “how’ve you been”s with my standard reply of “not bad.” I used to say, “I could be worse,” but I’ve found that prompts too much probing. People accept not bad without follow up. They take it and move on without it having made an indentation in their tabula rosas, allowing them to say what they were going to say before I’d replied. I find that easier. I hate small talk, I hate phatic chatter. I pitch in the minimum when discussing every day things, and I share as little as possible as sharing too much embarrasses me.
I don’t lie, though. I’ve never picked up the habit and have failed pretty spectacularly when I’ve tried do to bad memory and the unavoidable fiction writer’s urge to craft an entire narrative around a version of me who is too much a character to plausibly take my place.
So when I was asked why I hadn’t been to evening classes, I responded that I’d been going to the day classes. When they asked why, if my schedule had changed, I didn’t think to say yes, which would have been true if unrelated. Instead I told them a bit about my fatigue, at least underplaying it enough for it to have made as little impression as possible.
It is embarrassing to be pitied, it is more embarrassing to be known not for what you do but for an ailment.
This closes the circle. I don’t want to tell my sifu because I don’t want pity, nor concern. I want acceptance and for my teacher to know I haven’t been deliberately skipping class. I want the forgiveness that comes from being sick and nothing else. I spent a great many years being the vestigial persona attached to an identity externally characterized by illness and I’ve no wish to return to it, being the lesser claw of a fiddler crab.
Long day tomorrow. Morning appointments, an afternoon of writing, and kung fu in the evening. The same again friday, or similar enough to it. The story is shaping up. In one vein or another, progress.