I had a bad feeling about walking home on that road. It was nearing 11pm, and I wanted to stop at the only open restaurant I knew where I could grab something light to eat at that late hour. I worried only of never having traveled down that way so late, but decided to chance it on the strength of faith alone. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming.
The transaction in the restaurant was pleasant, and went off without a hitch. And so I set out on my way home over a hillock, a hump, really. Yet, unbeknown to me it was covered in a thin layer of ice just over the crest; thin, but enough to cause a calamity. I didn’t see it in the dark.
The funny thing about falling when you’re an adult is you can feel the center of gravity shift out of your control with a certain sense of dread. When I was a child I could do cartwheels, and climb trees then precariously balance on the slimmest of branches — it was all exhilarating. Now when I fall, I wonder: “How much this is going to cost?” First there is the skating, the feeling that a foot is starting to move in a way you can’t control. Normally when this happens you rely on the other more solidly placed leg to compensate — like all-wheel-drive, but in this case it is all-feet-walk. It is in that pivotal moment that the suddenness of this predicament is realized. The other foot has NO traction: I’m going down!
There are many ways to go down, the worst of which is probably to sprawl forward with your upper-body leading the way, this is the bad way to fall, the way of falling that almost guarantees that an ambulance will be required to help you up.
The best way to fall, and I hope this is not a rationalization, is to shoot your feet out ahead of you so you land on the only part of your body uniquely cushioned to absorb such a shock. This is the way I fell, with my messenger-style bag slung over my shoulder and luckily breaking my fall.
And then, the most humiliating part of any fall is what happens immediately afterward — the drift. This is the short distance that your entire body floats on the ice as if to remind you that you are nothing, and can be dropped and pushed around by a fucking patch of ice only a quarter of an inch thick. It’s as if when you’ve fallen, and you land on the ground asking yourself “Did I really just fall?;” the drift is there to jeer you “Yeah man, ya did!”
The good news is nothing broke! No blood, and no permanent damage!
Many people mistakenly believe that in America we sue for every bad thing that happens, but this is not true. If I had fallen and couldn’t rise, or had the sense upon rising that something really serious was wrong, then I would have dialed 9-1-1 and sat there till it came; both so I could receive medical attention as soon as possible and to preserve the ability to take future legal action against the responsible party. (Side Note: If someone slips and falls on snow/ice on the sidewalk outside your house, they can sue you — the property owner!) The last thing on my mind was a lawsuit, the first and really only question was: Am I ok?
Luckily I was, mostly. The human body is a wonderful piece of equipment and within seconds of falling I could tell that the impact of it was absorbed by my right hand which had instinctively reached back to help break the fall. Within a minute of standing up I was testing its range of motion, which seemed fine. But it wasn’t, the elbow would later swell slightly.
These are the perils of what I call Jesus Weather in America, I derive that name from the fact that you open your front door, feel the cold and mutter “Jeeesus!” to yourself; then you lave the house walking on water, and ice, as it were. These of the perils of New York winter, where people walk around happy that it’s 45 degrees Farenheit.
The other good news is that like that the quintessentially Jamaican spirit of resilient shone through. It provided an opportunity to focus more on the direction for the blog and other activities in the upcoming year. And provided me with a reminder that I take too many things for granted.
It is not until I couldn’t fully use my right hand, which was sprained, that I realized how much the left hand relies on the right. How do you soap up your left hand in the shower; or lotion the left hand after?
Most importantly, how would you type a 2,000 word blog post with a right hand that isn’t 100%?
A legal question did arise for me though based off this injury. When a married person is injured, their spouse is sometimes able to sue on the basis of a legal claim called loss of services. In a liberal society like the U.S. why should an unmarried person be incapable of suing for the loss of their own services? And more importantly, they had lawsuits like that, wouldn’t it be great to sit in the courtroom and listen to the line-of-questioning and the testimony? Better yet, can you imagine the advocacy website devoted to the cause of securing the right to sue for unmarried people in this circumstance. Like I said, I wasn’t blogging, I had a lot of time to think on my hands — no pun intended.