I broke my wrist on Sunday. Of course it was my left wrist, my dominant hand. Aside from the pain and the splint and the doc appointments and the craziness of trying to figure out how to hook a bra, button up jeans and open pill bottles with one hand, there’s a steep learning curve of another kind going on and I have to grudgingly admit, I’m grateful for it.
For my birthday. I gave myself two presents–a creative workshop taught by a poet friend of mine called Spirit and Shadow. Her provocative questions are stirring my soul and disturbing my sleep. The other is an online course called Awakening Joy. Taught by James Baraz, it is a mindfulness class. This week we are put the intention of joy/happiness /contentment into the center of your life.
Last week, I wondered whether I had once again overextended myself knowing that each class would take time out of my day. This week, however, post accident I have plenty of time as I try to keep my left wrist still. Along with the classes, I’m also reading “Marrow, a love story” by Elizabeth Lesser which explores authenticity among other things. In a sense the classes and the book rake over the same ground reminding me of a Japanese Sand garden.
The house needs a vacuuming, oh probably more than a vacuuming, and there are a whole list of tasks that I’m not attending to because they require two hands. Everything seems to require two hands. But I offer myself no choice. I set the tasks the side, heal and dig into work. Reading and writing about authenticity, joy, art, life’s purpose, I immediately and predictably sink into self-pity. “I walk down another street.”
I can’t move on here, however, until I write about the weekend before and traveling to New York.
We went to New York on a whim and an impulse. My dearest old friend, the one who does not speak and does not know who I am, was 70 on Saturday. Her husband and son gathered friends to toast and sing to her and exchange stories of her beautiful mind and loving life. I met friends I didn’t know, friends I had only heard of and friends I had met 20 years ago. David, our host, cooked “just a little something” that we feasted on (I suspect there were many leftovers ) and a young woman, David’s former student, made a cheese cake as delicate as a flan with a fruit glaze that melted in the mouth. Julia did not refuse a second piece. There was a good deal of laughing and many tears. There was a good deal of drinking in which I did not indulge because we would be taking the subway home to Queens alone and the subway was wonky with repairs that changed tracks, skipped stations and offer alternate bus routes. I wasn’t wrong in my sobriety but I did wish for a bit of mind altering.
Much later than I intended to stay, and yes, we were part of the last contingent to leave, we said good night just before midnight. Three friends walked us to the subway. I think they would have escorted us to Queens had I let them. The train ride was long, looping around Brooklyn, into Manhattan and finally deep into Queens. It was an F train, sometimes on the A line tracks, sometimes on the E line tracks, sometimes a local, sometimes express. Often the lighted board with stops went dark and a cryptic message to follow directions scrolled across. The walk from train to Cheshire’s apartment, almost a mile, was very quiet and dark. The ride and walk home was not scary but it was challenging and somehow like a pilgrimage. I appreciated Julia’s forebearance and her willingness to do it all.
The morning after was the first day of the lunar new year. Gong Ha Fa Cai! Year of the rooster. The plan was to go to China town for lunch and then the airport for a Sunday trip home. The streets of China town were littered with the confetti of Saturday’s celebration. The foot traffic was lighter than what we are used too which was a blessing as I dragged our weekend roller bag behind me.
We ate soup dumplings, wontons in special spicy sauce, rice noodles with pork, and hot and sour soup. The noodles were not especially long for long life new year wishes but they were fresh and smokie. The dumpling and wontons were excellent, delicate, home made dough wrapping spicy delights.
After our lunch we made our way to the airport, and just after we boarded our plane to Minneapolis, Delta’s computer system crashed and the final paperwork could not be generated. We got off that plane and began a wait. The system flickered up and down. When it was clear we would miss our connecting flight, I procured alternate tickets for the next morning. As the hour got later, I knew we would land in Minneapolis and stand on another line to find a hotel. It was after 10 and it is a 2-hour flight. When they announced that the flight crew needed to be changed before we could fly, I threw in my towel and head back to Cheshire’s house. I was thankful for her roommate who let us in and made us feel at home. In the end, the flight to Minneapolis did leave and the connecting flight was cancelled.
So, we cabbed it to Cheshire’s, slept and showered, ate bagels and headed back to the airport on train and bus with hopes of seeing Madison just after sunset. During our wait and the beginning of the flight, Julia worked on an essay about the weekend. With a format–outline, first draft, final draft–and some scaffolding, she wrote five paragraphs about her experience. It was slow going but the ideas were hers and she was persistent. She could not have done this two years ago and is much more fluidity with sort of project than she would have been an year ago.
Note on the bagel breakfast: Julia had a toasted plain with Nutella cream cheese. A new taste thrill. I told her we could do that at home and the delayed homecoming was almost worth it. I enjoyed my white fish salad. Not found in Madison.
The deli guys tickled me. In my youth, deli guys were old Jewish men. They were brusk and intimate. A good customer did not dither with their order and exceptions were the rule. They liked the challenge, even if they grumbled. The deli guys now, in the Queens deli, are Latino. Spanish not Yiddish is shouted behind the counter but the demeanor and swagger are the same. My Spanish is no better than my Yiddish. It is all music to a displaced New Yorker.
We arrived home just in time to go to the West high school open house for the class of 2021. It was crazy and chaotic and noisy, and Julia loved it. She saw kids from her middle school and she also saw kids she have not seen since grammar school because they went to a different middle school. She greeted a lot of them by name and also gave hugs liberally. At present I am worrying over her schedule for next year. Classes don’t seem to perfectly fit her and who knows how teachers will work out, but her enjoyment of the night seem to presage a very good entrance into high school.
I spent the rest of the week trying to catch up for the single day that I had missed. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed that I had once again taken a bite way too big for my mouth. And then Sunday. Ice skating. The emergency room. And a splint just passed my elbow, incapacitating me more than I expected.
My learning curve is steep this week. Washing my hair, scooping rice into a bowl, lifting anything, all with one hand. And dictating instead of writing on this machine.
Wrist update: The ortho PA did new x-rays yesterday and said that that the bones were looking good and we should leave the splint on for another week to avoid disturbing the healing that was going on. The splint however is not as stable as a cast would be and I must curtail activity so that the splint doesn’t “slip”. In another week they will put on a cast. Although I’m not out of the woods, right now surgery is not indicated. There may be an issue with range of motion but that will be a question for another day.
I am the old dog being forced to learn new tricks and I am slowing down and digging into the work that I need to do.