|Posted by [email protected] on April 11, 2013 at 7:05 PM|
Once in a while, I'm reminded that people long to have a chance to tell the stories of their lives. Just last week, a classmate in Qi Gong asked me if I knew the origin of the print on the blouse I was wearing-- a batik from the Pacific Islands. He told me he had spent ten years in Fiji as a natural foods farmer.
Still, I wonder, why would anyone want to hear about me? So I don't talk much about myself and am actually surprised when that narrative hunger rises in me. Yesterday I went to the doctor with an injured elbow. She asked me to wait to be taken to x-ray to see if it was fractured. After paging through the magazines in the rack and trying to identify the instruments in the examining room, I thought about the last time I'd had a cracked bone.
I remember being in a hurry after work at the Doe Library, rushing across campus, hoping not to miss the bus. There was more packing to do in my Berkeley studio before I moved into my boyfriend's. The main reason for the move was to save rent money while I was in Oxford as an intern at the Bodeleian Library.
They tell me that I stepped off the curb to board the bus. They tell me that the bicyclist who hit me, as he chose to ride down between the double-parked buses, was young and concerned. I know from the police report that he hit me at between twenty-five and thirty miles an hour. From the report I also learned that after he hit me head on, he collided with a couple of other pedestrians and fell off his bike. He checked the bike carefully for damage. I was unconscious for four days.
My first memory afterwards was of someone repeatedly asking me where I was. As if I were in class, I answered "Here." I was hurt that my answer didn't seem to make that person happy. Later I learned that the nurse questioning me had also tried to pry open my wounded right eye. My mother says I attempted to slug him. ( sent a bouquet of flowers to apologize.)
While I was in hospital, my boyfriend had finished my move into his place on Rose Street. He and my mother argued over how to treat my headache. I caught a glimpse of myself with the racoon eyes of a concussion. He believed only aspirin would help. Mom remembered that the doctor said no aspirin. He won the argument. It took two trips to the emergency room to stop the resulting nose bleed. Once the bleeding stopped, the doctor asked me if anything else hurt. I indicated my right shoulder. He x-rayed it and found the cracked clavicle. He put my arm in a sling.
The concussion that had given me the racoon eyes also affected my vision. Everything I looked at had a shadow in living color. Hand-eye coordination was beyond me. Still I went back to work at the library and spent a weekend at Yosemite. With about six weeks of recovery behind me, I took my broken clavicle in its sling and my eye patch to England. My assignment there was to assist in cataloging the Gogh Maps Collection. They were still filling out 3x5 cards for each item, by hand. Using my left hand made that difficult. Evenings were spent in Exeter College with four other interns from the UCLA library program-- Evalyn, Cheryl, Emily, and Lloyd. I tasted my first blue gin in Evalyn's room and endless variations of potatoes in the dining hall. Evalyn made sure I didn't fall off the stairs during our field trips. Even though I'd been in junior and state colleges in California, it was my first experience at living on campus. Even the kid at the British Library who shouted, "Look at the Pirate Lady." couldn't daunt the joy I got out of making that trip.
Back in the present, waiting for the doctor to read the x-rays, I started an article in Oprah Winfrey's magazine about the Big Sur, with a photo of Esalen's hot springs pools. I use to drive out to Esalen for workshops, before an earthquake damaged the old pool and it had to be replaced . . . .
The doctor was surprised to learn that I found the white room so stimulating, but she didn't seem curious about the stories I remembered there.