Stephanie Burgis
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My big adventure
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I've gotten so stir-crazy lately that today I decided to take a chance. Even though I was feeling shaky (and nervous), I settled Maya into her crate at 11:30, walked down the road to the bus stop, and took the bus into downtown Leeds, for the first time in about 3 months. This shouldn't sound like an adventure - but for me it was. Not only could I not have done this a month ago without getting hellishly ill afterwards, I couldn't have done it two weeks ago (or even at the beginning of last week). I didn't know if I could do it today or if I'd end up stuck in the middle of the busy, impersonal Leeds city center, surrounded by strangers and too woozy to walk or even stand up. But I was going so crazy with not leaving the neighborhood (and I thought I might have the energy) that I had to try.

I got off the bus on Boar Lane, went into the Next clearance shop (hooray for cheap last-season clothes!) and then walked up New Briggate, the main pedestrian-only street in town, carrying my shopping bag and feeling buoyed with so-far success. A college student was playing the violin, five different displays had been set up in the middle of the street (selling scarves, shawls, bubble machines and stop-smoking-cures), and it was middle-of-the-week busy, just the way I like it. (Unlike Saturday-busy, when you can barely move through the press of people.) It felt fun and vibrant and city-ish, and I felt so happy to be there. I saw that there was a sale at Debenhams, started to go in, then stopped myself, because I was starting to feel woozy and I could feel that going up those escalators and wandering through the stuffy showrooms would be the wrong decision just then. Instead, I walked the rest of the way up the block to Borders, where I found a copy of Locus, an SFX magazine, and a couple of fantasy novels I hadn't read, and I settled down with a hot chocolate to pore over all of them in the cafe, with bright sunshine beaming in through the windows.

Patrick joined me 40 minutes later, and we got to have a mid-day date for the first time in a long time. When it was time for him to leave, I left, too. The bubble-machine sellers were demonstrating their wares, so bright, iridescent soap bubbles surrounded me, floating through the air as I walked down New Briggate. On the way back to the bus stop, I stopped in the 'Shelter' charity shop, found a pretty summer dress for £5 and grabbed 4 paperbacks for £6. (Note: usually paperbacks in England are £6.99 or £7.99 apiece!) The bus came about two minutes later, and I landed back at home just after 2:30, a little woozy but triumphant, with all my purchases around me.

It's too early to say there were no bad effects - usually the real sickness attacks about five or six hours after I do too much - but so far, I'm feeling a little shaky but okay, physically. And mentally...oh, wow, I feel so much better. And I feel hopeful, too, about my health, for the first time in a while. I couldn't have gotten through this even a couple of weeks ago. Knock on wood...maybe things are getting better. (Although it feels scary, like bad luck, to type that publicly.)

Next week, I'm going to try it again.

And this morning, before I left for town, I wrote 1470 new words of Kat, taking her and her sisters deep into the Yorkshire Dales I love, to visit ominous, brooding Grantham Abbey. Mmmmm....

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