You know how you use aromatherapy to mask that you just cooked brussels sprouts, or, in my case, that my sons are visiting?
You know how you use physical therapy to fix the kink you got in your neck from having sex in the backseat of a Corolla?
You know how you use shock therapy to tell your mother that, yes, you are pregnant...again?
Well I am using imagination therapy because it is twenty three degrees below zero outside. I had to spell it completely out in words, not numbers, because it is truly that bad.
And so, as I sit here with my fingers curled around a hot cup of tea, I have decided to pretend it is summer.
Come along, close your eyes and join me:
It is hot. Really hot and humid and as the day progresses, it just gets hotter. The sun is so relentless you can smell it's heat and it creeps into every corner of the house and melts the candles and exhausts the dog and turns the children into lolling, crabby monsters.
But, it's a full moon tonight and the call goes out from Trudy: FULL MOON GODDESS PARTY, TONIGHT AT DARK.
We gather at her pool, just after ten, in our bathrobes.
We bring wine and tell stories and laugh. We hang our towels high on the stockade fence.
We skinny dip.
It doesn't matter that our bodies wear our pasts: the stamps of having children, old injuries, surgeries and abuses; it doesn't matter that we droop here and sag there; that we no longer have waists and that the tops of our arms wave like flags.
We are women who need the water on our skin tonight. The pool accepts us easily and we immerse ourselves into this womb-like place.
The bats from the old house next door fly and swoop, feasting on summer insects, and they just miss the tops of our heads and still we float, our toes and fingers getting all pruney.
The water is cool but the air is so hot and our bodies are so hot that the water is a baptism of joy. It is so dark we can barely see each other, just the light patterns the moon paints on the water's surface.
We swim lightly, treading water, talking in lowered voices.
We are careful not to laugh too loud, but we do laugh, deeply and often, at moments only this sisterhood can understand.
We look up and see the full moon smiling at us and the incredible clusters of stars scattered in the dust of the Milky Way. Someone asks Renata, who recently took an astronomy course, how to tell which constellation is which.
"How the fuck should I know,'' she replies, sending us rippling into laughter, giggling like girls instead of strong women bent under responsibility and duty.
Trudy cannonballs off the diving board, the moonshine flashing white over her nude wet skin.
We finally cool and begin to climb out, wrapping ourselves in our robes, leaving the heat and oppressiveness of the day back in the pool, letting it drown.
"Good night,'' we say to each other. "Good night." And we head to our homes and our husbands and our lovers and our children. We are refreshed, washed and cooled, reborn from the heat of the day by the cool of the night.
Today, deep in mid-January, the pool is dark, its waters choked with fall's jeweled leaves. Ice covers its surface and the bats are long wrapped in their cloaks of hibernation. My sisters of the water are scattered here and there, keeping their home fires as Winter's breath chills and burns and encases us.
But we can dream. We can slip into a memory.
We can close our eyes and swim in the heat of the summer.