On the Road Again
On Tuesday at 2:36 it all went black.
Above, the grey skies mirroring the austerity of the crash.
Below, a frenzy of helicopters & blood, life & death, trepidation.
Until that moment I had defined myself by movement & exploration; the idea of slowing down was never able to catch up to me. It pinned me down at 25: I was alive, but barely.
To escape the unanswerables, I explored the infinity of memories & moments. I felt the tickling in my toes tracing lines on imaginary maps of where I’d been & where I wanted to go. I felt alive when my mind was traveling.
I was hooked up to a breathing machine but in those dreams my breath was strong. With a deep exhale, I was folding forward with the shamans in India. Rid of a feeding tube, I was in a courtyard in Italy staining my teeth with chianti, fueling ideas & discourse. I could almost hear the laughter, & I felt alive.
My heartbeat was weak but in those dreams it was unbreakable: fluttering as I danced with a French man under the most romantic moon. Under that sun there was no catheter; I felt myself running somewhere, giggling & guarded by the tall grass. I was too dizzy to read, but I could feel a book in my palm & the sway of a hammock. From there I could see the sun sinking into the sea, & I felt alive.
With no visible signs of strength, I dreamed of the capacity I had to make this world a better place. I was in Nicaragua empowering people in rural communities while kids crowded my iPhone to spot their own reflections. From my wheelchair I dreamed of running marathons in faraway places. Despite broken femurs & knees, I could feel the sweat beading from my forehead & hear the roaring support of friends & family. I was winning races, & I felt alive.
I could smell coffee beans almost burning & hear the buzz of a cafe in Turkey while nurses prodded curiously at my supine body. In my mind, the whitewashed walls were unabashedly splashed with colour & I was weaving through vibrant markets in Guatemala in search of something beautiful. Those mornings I had no wounds, the laceration that took most of my eyebrows felt smooth, & I was bikini’ed, flirting with the waves in Croatia. I tasted salt on my lips, & I felt alive.
Today I am smiling at the open road & enlivened by the mystery of it all: I am alive.
In rear view, the challenges that I could not escape were the most important explorations of all. Explorations of self & spirit, of what lies within, regardless of where on the map my body will move me.