I used to be able to recite every line in the three original Star Wars movies. After a while, it became a compulsion. To this day, I have a hard time not mouthing along every bit of dialogue, or squealing alongside R2, Jawas, Sandpeople, etc.
I was sick a lot as a kid and my dad had copied all three Star Wars movies onto a single glorious tape, so when my brother would leave for school, I would climb into my nest of blankets on our green felt couch and pop in the tape. By the time the trilogy was over, it was nearly time for my brother to be home from school, and my head would be filled with ideas about building my own lightsaber or honing my latents Jedi skills.
I can’t remember when I stopped watching The Trilogy when I was home sick — probably around the time that being sick became more of a visceral experience. I don’t remember this exhaustion and dizziness. I don’t remember the sweating and the headaches. I suppose that when you have someone to take care of you when you’re sick, you allowed to be less concerned about it. Being sick when you’re young means fizzy drinks and warm hands on clammy skin, kisses on your forehead and someone asking how you feel and genuinely wanting to know.
Being sick when you’re an adult means debating what you’re going to wipe your ass with when you run out of Kleenex and toilet paper and are down to you last roll of paper towels. It means deciding at 6AM when your alarm goes off on Day 2 of infirmity whether you are capable of sucking it up and going into work, then trying to remember just how many sick days you have left and wait, IT’S ONLY FUCKING APRIL. It means sleeping all day and waking up with a sore back in a pile of sweaty sheets, knowing you’ve only got the one set and you don’t have the energy to do laundry today. It means feeling that rush of relief that you still have decongestants left from the last time you were sick and you don’t have to venture out into the world.
I don’t watch movies when I’m home sick anymore. I sleep. I listen to music. I watch seasons of television shows because they’re short and I can nap between them. I try to shut off my awareness as much as is humanly possible. Because I know I’m not possessed of Jedi powers and that lightsabers aren’t real.
Over the years I’ve had other people occasionally take care of me and get me fizzy beverages with the hands and the kisses and the asking how I am. But it always feels like an elaborate game of house – each person performing the sickness rites their parents had performed on them – and it never feels like home.
I used to think as a kid that if I got sick enough, I would eventually be immune to everything. Just like I used to think that if I could visualize my bedroom perfectly in my mind, down to every last detail, I would be able to levitate the bed. There’s a child-like logic there that I miss because everything in the world would make sense and there was still room for wonder. For magic.
Now my magic resides in finding a second roll of toilet paper hiding under the sink, and there being just enough honey left for a second cup of tea.
But I can still recite most of the lines from The Trilogy as they play on the insides of my eyelids when I drift off into an pseudoephedrine-tainted dream.