Since childhood, I have been looking
forward to growing old enough to know pretty much which end is up in
life, to reaching Social Security age in order to write full-time,
and to tackle mature subjects in my work. I find it strange that just
when I’ve reached something like that balance, I’ve lost my
relatively reliable physical balance.
I’ve never been with a lover this
long, and now I’ve pledged a permanence, called marriage, that I’ve
learned to respect. Since the age of eighteen, I’ve never lived in
one home this long. My recent stability has enabled me, I believe, to
write more complex stories that feature more thoroughly developed
characters and, because of my years of travel along the roads of
lesbian culture, especially with my sweetheart, I can offer readers
more varied and detailed settings.
But I fall over. I traverse our home
like a metal pinball looking to bump every target if only to score a
jackpot of bruises. I adore my sweetheart, but when I go to hug her,
or dance with her, it’s only, thank goodness, my still-quick
reflexes that cover mild floundering. She doesn’t need to catch me
yet, though I’m not too proud to take her hand when picking my way
up or down rocks, driftwood and slick sand to and from our wild
beaches. It’s my sweetheart, after all, who’d be pushing my
wheelchair and cleaning house should I break a leg, a hip, or my
I know it's not just me. Strolling the
beach yesterday with my sweetheart and our much-loved friend, the
walker, the Pacific Ocean supine in its pacific glory, its ripples
tipped with sunlight, my sweetheart tried to lead us to firmer
ground, for easier trekking. The walker and I, both typically
unsteady on our feet, missed our cue. We trodded onward, bumping
shoulders as one or the other of us teetered while the other
The walker laughed and said she often
bird watched with two other women, one of whom shares our balance
problems. The third goes on ahead to escape the pinball effect.
I’ve always had problems with
balance, in every sense of the word.
Plantar fasciitis was diagnosed by a
salesman at a Buster Brown shoe store when I was a little kid with
painful arches. The stores used wondrous X-Ray Shoe-Fitting Machines
(known as fluoroscopes in doctors’ offices) and were ultimately
banned because of radiation leakage. After consulting the infernal
machine, the salesman stuck instruments of torture called pediatric
arch supports in my new shoes. I ditched them asap.
I was athletic: running, tennis,
fencing. The pain would disappear for a while, then come screaming
back, benching me. Today, I wear orthotics designed with new-fangled
CAD/CAM software, but, due to bilateral knee replacement surgery, I’m
cautioned not to run, play tennis, or fence.
Most people who grow up gay are
inevitably strangers to balanced lives. You’re proud and scared.
You’d better learn to run. You’re out prowling, obsessed with
seduction, or seal yourself in your closet until you can’t breathe.
You might reject your true nature to live a pretend life. Some of us
can’t take the opposing choices we’re faced with and exit
entirely. Love too often cancels itself out because we’re
apparently terrible at choosing partners who are good for us –
until we find the one who leads us to solid ground.
I once tended to walk on the least
stable sand emotionally. We counted last night and so far, have come
up with at least eighteen moves I made in my life’s hike. Many of
them were down to breakups or new loves. One to a death, another to
moving to the groovy west. Wherever I went there’d be a therapist
to help me recover my equilibrium, an acupuncturist to get my qi
My sweetheart and I try to find balance
in our diets, but deep down we agree that means potatoes and ice
cream. She abhors vegetables, but will cook some under duress. I
seldom coerce her.
I’ve had vertigo, tinnitus and a
panic disorder since I was a preschooler. All three come and go, and
signal asymmetry of mind or body. Psychiatric disorders, including
anxiety, can cause dizziness – which I never knew until researching
this piece. I’ve managed to add hallux rigidus to my physical
problems, meaning I can’t flex my big toes without pain. The docs
want to fuse them. Back problems send misery into my legs, but I have
no interest in robots with scalpels messing with my spine.
I’ve always wanted to outgrow the
travails of youth. Now I have, and it turns out that the body wears
out as the mind wises up. Where is the balance in that?
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, Accidental Desperados, is
available at Bold
Books. You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2021 Lee Lynch.