In every moment there is another moment–a memory, a sensation, a flicker of days past. I remember being a little girl, in the back yard in the dead of winter. I was sitting on the slide on this metal monkey bar/ swing set we had. I was fussing with my mittens and was shaking my hand, trying to release the fabric from my fingers. I don’t quite know how I did it, but the mittens came off and I thwacked my freezing digits against the frosty metal of the slide, and I yowled from the pain. In my short life, nothing had ever been more excruciating than this.
This memory floods over me this morning at 430am, on the side of a quiet road. My first attempt at scraping the windshield was insufficient, so I had to pull over and de-ice the glass once more…my fingers numb and my eyes feeling heavy from want of sleep. A sudden nervousness ran through me, I felt vulnerable, alone in the darkness. I wanted to get back into the car, lock the door and get on with driving to the other side of town to pick up a co-worker in need of a lift. I don’t quite know how I did it, but I got in the car hurriedly and I pulled the door closed on my left hand. Lord knows how I pulled that one off, but there I was…that little girl on the swing set, only this time with more expletives.
Okay, so maybe I have a low pain threshold and a high tolerance for histrionics, but that was a completely unnecessary addition to such an early morning. I drove the ten minutes to the North Shore with my throbbing hand between my knees, and making sad whimpering noises, like a puppy with a wounded tail. As I got closer to the house, crossing the bridge, the sniveling developed to something slightly closer to that of a peasant shucking wheat in the relentless sun, singing “Amazing Grace” to gather strength. When Kathleen comes to the car, I tell her what happened, show her my fingers and she examines them with a motherly eye. “They look fine, they’re not broken”. “Oh well, they’ll swell up soon, it really hurts”. And you know what? They didn’t. Over an eleven hour work day, there was no blood, no swelling, not so much as a faint bruise. It’s such a shame. Is it wrong to want a bit of a fuss, a touch of a physical manifestation of very real pain? I think not. But the comfort I can draw from this experience is that our present and past selves flow freely within moments, arising within memory and experience… and that I still do the same dumb, inexplicable shit I did when I was a teeny little tot.