At nine, I was used to going places alone. It’s easy to do this in New York City because there’s always a bus or train to take me where I want to go. So, when my mother told me I had to go by myself to see the new dentist, I shrugged and got ready. Since I’d never been there, and didn’t know how to get to his office, my mother gave me directions and money for bus fare.
I got off at the stop that she told me to get off and started to walk, but what she described didn’t correspond to where I was. I asked a couple of people where the dentist’s office was but no one had heard of him.
In January 1985 I was in London, England, working on a book with a colleague and leading workshops for teachers and recreation workers when I was beset by a cough that wouldn’t quit, hemorrhaging that happened for no reason I understood, hardly able to eat or drink. After a colleague asked how I was, I reluctantly admitted, “Not so well.” She called the Warden (person in charge of the post-graduate student housing where I was living for five weeks). The Warden called a doctor with a lovely Scottish accent who examined me, told me one of my lungs had collapsed, that I had an extremely low pulse, and was very sick. Stunned by her findings I tried to tell her I’d be fine in a few days, but she ignored my protestations. “It’s off to the hospital with you my girl. Right now!”
I was hiking down a steep trail, lost in thought. Sometimes, if I allow myself to feel what I’m feeling without judging, a memory will surface and I can connect the past with the present and let it go.
As I hiked, too many memories surfaced, none of them good. Annoyed at myself for only remembering bad times I forced myself to think of something good. In the process I forgot to look where I was going and tripped on a loose stone, falling head first, narrowly missing jagged rocks as I let go of my hiking poles and twisted my body to protect my head. Cursing my carelessness, I surveyed the damage. Blood on my legs and arms showed only surface cuts, easily taken care of. My hip was bruised, but moving my arms, legs, fingers, and toes revealed nothing was broken. I sat for a moment, drank water, took arnica pellets (a homeopathic remedy that helps reduce bruising and swelling) ate a bit of protein bar, and stood up.
Life tales from a woman different living in The City Different.