There are different ways of being housebound. For many years I have been “bound” by my possessions. Just as I was feeling a lightening of being when I started shedding layers of possessions I was suddenly confronted by another meaning. Having slipped on ice, it turns out that I have a broken leg. Not a serious break, but enough to keep me off my feet for several weeks. Now I am confronted by a new awareness: how difficult it is to live when your arms are occupied by crutches and you can only bear weight on one leg! Worse is the inability to go outside unaccompanied. One afternoon my husband came into the living room and asked me if I wanted the blinds closed, to get the sun out of my eyes, and I was suddenly appalled at the thought and said, no I am enjoying this dazzle, because I cannot get outside.
I’ve found social networking a bit of a lifeline and this morning when my housemates had all left and I discovered that the internet had not been turned on (switch is in a remote corner of the basement) I was devastated. The thought of eight hours with only the radio as a connection, no interactive possibilities, was unthinkable. I managed to get myself down to the basement and thought, well, now I am here, let’s enjoy the old desktop, so much easier to use than the PlayBook.
When I was growing up in a small town my girlfriends and I used to visit old ladies who would give us tea and cake. I don’t know how this started but it was something we did as a matter of course, and enjoyed doing. I kept in touch with several old ladies after I left home, sending them Christmas cards, usually with a new embroidered cotton hanky enclosed as a tiny gift until, one by one, I would get a letter from a relative of theirs telling me that this or that aged friend had died. I did have in the back of my mind, although it was not my motivation, a thought that someday there would be a young person or two who would similarly treat me, would be little threads connecting me to the larger world inhabited by the younger people, the mobile people, the ones who are not tied to the inside of their home. But is is a different world now.
When I retire (and I will be mobile again) I must remember the really old, the permanently housebound, and find ways to become friends with some of them, to be in what remains of my own privileged life a sort of connection for them to the world they are now largely cut off from.