Focusing on the best years of your life: high school, college, career, and (of course) family.
My Second “First” Year of Life
I wrote this blog post this weekend but have debated whether to post or not. Something strange happened to my ability to say anything on this blog once it landed in the hands of 1.5 million strangers with this post on Feeling Too Fat to Be Photographed but for this very signifigant anniversary I just had to say something. So before I second guess myself again, here it is. And as always, thanks for reading.
So this is how I started my second “First” year of life.
March 30, 2012 I crawled and fumbled my way out of a heap of steel and heat and glass. I grabbed the hand of a welcome stranger and made my tumbling exit from my car…a tree suddenly in the middle of it. Like a calf’s first steps I collapsed to the ground. . . body trembling, legs not quite up to the task.
I landed in a nest of fat, hairy caterpillars that crawled all over me. I wiggled my toes, turned my neck fractions of an inch, touched each finger to my thumb. A quick assessment of my new physical body. Would I have legs that worked? A neck that could turn? Hands that could manipulate the dials of a camera?
My body was overcome with shaking, carrying the reverberations of my crash. It was like when you sloppily hold a baseball bat and your hands sting with the metallic vibration of a fastball.
I watched the stranger frantically run in and out of my upward stare…begging him to call my husband…pleading to God “oh Jesus…please Jesus” and from an equally primal place a string of particularly un-Jesus-like f-words.
My car was having a similar meltdowm. The classical music blasting through the speakers (originally, to calm my nerves on the drive) carried prayers of “oh Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” up to heaven on soothing violin notes while at the same time punctuating those prayers with a HONK. HONK. HONK. like a string of expletives escaping uncontrolled.
I just wanted to close my eyes. The smell of burning gas. The pounding classical music. The uncontrollable shaking. My head was crowded with sounds and smells. I couldn’t think . . . I just needed to turn off one sense, just for a minute. But like I learned in my favorite episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (ok…don’t laugh :)) I knew to keep my eyes open and try to stay awake.
Strangers gathered one by one and out of no where a Boy Scout leader in full uniform appeared and started giving orders. He looked like he was having the best day of his life – using all those First Responder skills he’d never had the chance to show off. He asked me my name, what day it was, and if I knew what happened. Someone brought me a cold bottle of water. Someone called my husband. Some folks just knelt on the ground next to me and picked off the caterpillars.
The Paramdedics arrived quickly. They cut my clothes off. And yes, oh yes precious . . . they had to cut my Spanx off of me on the side of that highway. But somewhere between having my Spanx cut off of me and having 4 nurses move my plus-sized, half-naked body around from X-ray to MRI, to CAT scan and back again…I realized that despite my current circumstance I was going to be just fine. I was going to kick this setback in the ass. I was going to . . . well . . . I was going to take a Morphine nap and wake up two days and 1 titanium leg later.
And that is how I started my second first year of life. Because someone jammed their fat little finger on the reset button of the life of Teresa Porter that day. I powered down for a minute and then beep, beep, beep (those ‘beeps’ are probably the expletives I was mumbling on the side of the road) … there I was again.
What felt like the clanging, crashing, smoky end to my life was actually a beautiful new beginning. And what was once a heap of destruction was actually the birth of something triumphant.
So it is 1 year later and I still carry the accident with me.
The Boy Scout, a reminder that in moments of fear and doubt and hurt and pain someone will step up to help. Sometimes, blisfully, they even show up looking exactly like what help should look like. I mean, a boy scout?!
The classical music, a reminder to breathe, be still, listen. Also, maybe life’s most dramatic moments really do have a movie soundtrack. I thought mine would sound more like Cindy Lauper and less like Chopin but whatever.
The Spanx, well, we’ll call that a lesson in perspective. Can you hear me girl-in-the-bathroom-who-just-discovered-food-in-your-teeth? Those embarrassing moments happen to all of us. You know what doesn’t often happen? Having the SPANX cut off of you on the side of a HIGHWAY. See…perspective
Finally, the caterpillars. It is simple. The caterpillars reminded me of the promise that we can start all over again, it is just the lucky few of us who get the chance to celebrate the day we fell from the cocoon.