When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Muscle memory

My land-line business phone rang at 1:28 a.m. early Thursday morning. (Do not mock my land-line; I have a very nice iPhone for personal use.)

I awoke from a deep, Klonipin-induced sleep with the thoughts “Who died, who died, whodied??” racing through my head as I tucked into the fetal position between my comforter and a fluffy pillow. By the time I reached the phone – located in the other room – the caller had gone to voice mail/hung up. I looked at the caller ID, expecting to see my parents’ phone number or a call from one of my sisters. Or maybe my brother, telling me the Bulgarian Princess had absconded overseas with my nephew. Instead, I was shocked; the illuminated number had not been on my quickly assembled mental list of potential callers.

It was NEB (now ex-boyfriend), whom I haven’t talked to since last October. Why? And why – after he left no message – did I call him back? Because, stupid me, I still fucking care for some masochistic reason. Did his mom die? Was he sick or had he been in an accident? Was he drunk and finally ready to offer an apology for his douchy douche-bag behavior last year? Did he butt-dial me? Did his new girlfriend, trolling through his phone while he slept, stumble upon my number? I had to know. It’s my nature. For me, ignorance does not equal bliss.

I dialed without any thought, the muscle memory in my fingers typing the number without the need to hit redial. It rang and rang. I got his voice mail. I hung up, leaving no message. Alas, I would get no answer to my “Whys” that night and, most likely, ever.

Heart racing and palms sweating, I popped half a Xanax and tried to go back to sleep. When I fell into a fitful, sweaty slumber an hour later, my dreams consisted of having sex with him and then him leaving me. Hmm. Perhaps I should aspire to exist solely in my dreamworld, as it’s way more simple to figure out the transparent symbolism of my nocturnal meanderings than to unravel the confusing knot of my daily waking life.

Before drifting off to be greeted by horrible sex dreams, I was plagued with thoughts of muscle memory and the way I instinctively dialed his number as mindlessly as I breathe in and out every minute of every day. I thought my brain had forgotten those 10 digits, but no: my own bodily digits flew across the keypad, deep into their own agenda.

It’s said that musicians, athletes and others develop muscle memory. Riding a bike or playing a favorite video game requires muscle memory as well. Is my muscle memory ability channeled to my fingers, which cannot forget my ex-boyfriends’ phone numbers? Staring at the ceiling in the dark, I tried to remember the phone numbers of two boyfriends pre-NEB, and I could not. But if faced with a midnight call, would I recognize the number and immediately dial without the assistance of the redial button? Who knows. Let’s hope I’ll never have to test that hypothesis.

When I woke up to the sun four hours later and stumbled around the beginnings of another Thursday of job-hunting and anxious self-analysis about “what I want to do with the rest of my life,” I thought about another muscle. My heart, too, has a memory. It had sparred with my fingers following that 1:30 a.m. call, warning me “Don’t call him back; instead go back to sleep, my dear.” As we now know, my heart lost that fight. However, I must listen to that wise and well-schooled muscle more often; a muscle that has an emotionally damaged past, but refuses to give up. In fact, I think it was my heart, not the Xanax, that finally lulled me to sleep in the predawn hours, its rhythmic and slowing beat reminding me that the sun would rise on a new day and I would move forward, one foot (which has 20 muscles, by the way) in front of the other.

And with that thought, I smiled and walked out the door on my way to my Pilates lesson, where I discovered that my core, legs, butt and arms do not have amnesia as I once thought. Thank you, CT, for reintroducing me to the healing power of movement. I am so grateful. So are my muscles, which are happily heading back to a place they remember.

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