If I really thought about it, which I didn’t want to, I had been sick since I was a child (seizure, migraines, full body rashes) and I had resisted, with all my might, things like the park, the beach and the bouncy castle.
While my hesitation to play with others isn’t likely a symptom of anything but a bad attitude, a specialist told me I had been living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, of the hypermobile variety, a genetic disorder that can lead to widespread physical pain. Mixed connective tissue disease, mast cell activation disorder and Lyme disease were also thrown around.
Now, in adulthood, my body hurt too much for the theater or the hip restaurant with wooden benches or even, sometimes, the embrace of someone I loved. I could no longer define myself by what I liked to do for fun because the answer, it seemed, was nothing.
So I had to reach for a definition of cozy that didn’t involve chenille socks or a big scratchy couch pillow or even my body at all. It had to involve making some kind of peace with where I found myself (often the hospital) and how I felt (like an abandoned lump of steak tartare!) and what I couldn’t do (a lot of things the world had to offer).
And Shira was there, washing my hair as I cowered on a plastic shower stool. And Bill was there with a book of W.S. Merwin poems and a gluten-free doughnut whose sandy texture somehow made it even more pleasurable. And the nurses were there with their loose, skilled bodies and their bedazzled badges and their stories about their kids and their dogs and their no-good piece-of-work exes and they helped me into mesh underwear and brought me plastic cups of juice at 4 a.m. They seemed happy to do it and happy to talk, happier still to listen, and it was all, in its terrible way, cozy.
My breakup was cozy because I retreated even further. Shira is cozy because she used to belong to me and now I get to borrow her. My parents are cozy because no matter how angry they get, they aren’t going anywhere.