Now I get to tell all of you about the wondeful marvelous weekend, as well as update you on the state of my back.
The Pirate came over on Friday evening. O Captain My Captain was, in the great tradition of my boat club, hosting a spaghetti dinner at her house for the women's squad the night before the head race. P was invited to come along. (I think they all just wanted to see what I'd been making such a fuss about for so long. The time had come for me to deliver up the goods, as it were.)
We had a nice evening. If the Pirate was bored being stucking in a room with a bunch of 20 year-old chicks babbling on about rowing, he didn't show it. Coach brough his laptop and plugged it in to OCMC's housemate's overhead projector and gave us a Powerpoint presentation on How To Be A Champion Athlete. The presentation was serious, but the whole concept of the evening was sheer comedy.
Saturday morning was the day of the big head race sponsored by my boat club and taking place on our home river, in front of our boathouse. It's a big deal.
I had offered to show up and lend a hand in whatever capacity I could, but Coach told me to sleep in and keep resting my back. I figured that would probably be the last ever time my coach told me to sleep in, so I acquiesced obediently. He winked at the Pirate. (I love my coach.)
So we slept in. I fixed french toast for breakfast. We got dressed and made it to the boathouse about noon. The river was dangerously flooded. I'd never seen it so high, and the stream was insanely fast. The senior mens 8 had beat the river record by 26 seconds, completing the 4k course in just over 10 minutes!!! The novice divisions had, very wisely, been cancelled. The conditions were not safe for inexperienced crews.
There was nothing else scheduled until 2 pm, so we wandered downriver to the pub and had lunch. Or more accurately, the Pirate had lunch and I watched him eat, my stomach still being full of french toast. You know those thighs like oak timbers of his I'm always going on about? I think one of them is hollow, and constains several extra stomachs.
The weather was lovely: cool and sunny and calm. We decided to walk along the riverbank up to the start and cheer on the crews from there. It's a beautiful walk along the Avon, just trees and fields and pastures. There is no development anywhere on that stretch of river. So we followed the path along the bank, carefully navigating the sticky mud, me revelling in the first real exercise* I've had since i did my back, and talking quietly.
How nice it was to have him back! This is what I missed most: just being with one another, chatting about the events of the big wide world, or insignificant things like what variety of tit is that hiding in the hawthorne tree? We walked and held hands, breathed deeply the fresh air, and felt the love shining on our faces.
*when a slow, 4k walk on level ground is "real exercise" you know you're in trouble.
We got up to the start of the race, where there is another pub. I took a seat on a comfortable, wooden, straight-backed bench outside and the P went in to get us a pot of tea. We sat there for ages, drinking our tea and enjoying life, when we finally started to wonder where the fuck all the boats were. We should have been seeing crews coming past us to start the race ages ago. I looked at my watch: it was half two, 30 minutes past when the race was meant to start. I got out my phone and rang up Coach.
"Coach! What the fuck's going on down there?"
"Cancelled. Too much debris in the river, logs and crap. Hazard to the equipment."
So we drank our tea and walked back. The sun was low on the hills, all was quiet and well with the world. Honestly, it was the most idyllic afternoon I've ever spent.
We got back to my flat about half 4, and I was exhausted. It was the first day since the injuy I hadn't had a nap or lay down to rest my back, and it was time. I crawled into bed, and the P amused himself at my computer while i dozed for an hour. When I woke up it was time to start getting ready for the evening's festivities: the Head Race Ball.
As I showered and got dressed I couldn't help but notice the contrast between that evening and the evening we got dressed for the Summer Ball, way back in July, our first date. Then, we hardly knew each other, having only met once before at a party. We were at his house, and got dressed in separate rooms. It wasn't supposed to be a romantic evening, just a fun night out between friends. This time, at my place, we were different people. We showered and dressed together, talking, laughing, and flirting in total comfort. I stood in my bra and stockings in front of the mirror while I fixed my hair and makeup, and he manoevered around me to shave. He sat at my desk and polished his shoes, then helped me into my dress and kissed the back of my neck when he zipped me up. And it all felt so wonderfully, marvelously normal.
I didn't take any photos, but if I can get some from my friends I'll put them up here later. That said, we looked good.
He took my arm and escorted me out the door.
The ball was nice. The food was lousy, but who really gives a shit. Everyone was friendly and open and pleasant and in a good mood. Fortunately there was a bloke there whom the P knows from work, so at least there was someone there for him to talk to besides me. Everyone was very concerened about me and how I was doing, enquired kindly about my back, and said how impressed they were with my dedication to carry on when i knew I was injured. I told them I was fucking fool and don't ever follow my example. I think they thought I was just being polite, but I meant it.
We mingled and had a good time, but my midnight it was time to go. My back was getting rather sore by that point (and my shoes only had 2" heels), but the chairs in the ballroom were terrible and offered no respite. Aslo by that time the music was too loud for the P and I to be able to carry on a conversation, and everyone else in the room was too drunk to carry on a conversation, even if it had been physically possible over the music. But we'd had a lovely evening.
Sunday I had to be at the gym to coach some novice girls from a local boarding school at 10 am. Conveniently, Sunday Services at the cathedral are also at 10 am. So the P went to church and i went to the gym, which basically is my church. After I thought he would want to go home and take care of things that needed doing there, but he said, "I can stay a little longer if you want." Then Genghis rang up and said "I want a proper Sunday dinner. Let's go out to eat." Ghengis and the P are old chums from uni, so the three of us went to lunch together. After that the P and i decided to see Casino Royal at the cinema. (I will post my review of that tomorrow.)
Show times and transit being what they were, it was almost 8 pm when he dropped me back at my flat. "I'm glad you're back," i told him, for the thousandth time that weekend. "Thank you for everything." He put his hand on the side of my face, lightly holding my chin in his palm, and gently, so gently, touched my mouth with his lips. "Goodnight," he said.
...and now for the medical update, in case anyone was wondering:
every day is an improvement, but it's going to be a slower crawl uphill than i'd originally hoped. yesterday was the first day i was able to go about my daily business without having to lie down at intervals. that may not sound incredible, but it makes a big difference in how i can function during the day. i'm not taking any more pain killers, havn't for a few days now. I saw one of the university's GPs on friday evening at the nagging of the Pirate and flatmate B, who have been conspiring against me for days. As predicted, she was useless. She repeated everything Handsome Doctor told me last Saturday, informed me that a scan wasn't necessary since i didn't have any "red flag" symptoms, confirmed that the meds i'd been given were appropriate (which i never doubted), and told me to take it easy. The big question on my mind, how do i know when it's safe for me to begin training?, she wouldn't answer. She said she wasn't qualified to advise me on sports training, and that I would need to see a physio at the fitness centre. All well and good, but they charge money and i'm flat broke. I figure after I've had a few days completely pain-free I'll being doing the stretches and core stability stuff my coach gave me. I want to be up and running at full speed by training camp, which is the second week in January.