Of course, the intense rain also reminds me of New Orleans. There is nothing that I would love to do more right now than wade through foot-deep puddles on my way to the French Quarter Market, befriending a moderately intoxicated bachelorette party on the streetcar along the way. I missed my Tulane friends with heightened intensity; it was like the clouds were dumping alcohol into my open wound. When I silenced my mind and concentrated solely on the rain, I felt like I was back in New Orleans.
|Polk Place - photo from www.unc.edu|
As I was making my way towards the back, I saw my sweet friend Annabelle. In our short conversation, she imparted that she knew the weather was hard on my joints and asked how I was feeling. I had not confessed the pain to a single soul. I felt like it was completely invisible, a boring topic that none of my friends would want to discuss. It was by no means some of the worst pain I have experienced, but it was uncomfortable and distracting. "Let me know if you need help with anything," Annabelle offered with utmost sincerity, and I knew she meant it.
My first two-ish weeks at UNC have been wonderful. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with so many friends and my classes are phenomenal. I definitely picture the next three years here as happy ones. I have found organizations and people that I love. But none of this cures arthritis, and so I am learning to cope in a new setting, with new friends and professors and places.
Thankfully, I went to bed last night not feeling too ill. A hot shower helped to reheat my joints and loosen them up. I drifted off to sleep feeling warm and cozy. More importantly, thanks to Annabelle, I drifted off to sleep feeling supported, validated, and loved.
I wonder if I will ever feel raindrops splash against my skin without thinking of New Orleans. I wonder if I will ever step into a bus without fear. I wonder if the people around me have any inkling of the pain associated with my illness. I wonder how much to tell them. Mostly, I wonder how I am lucky enough to know people like Annabelle.