I have spent ten months running from my new reality. While barely keeping my world intact as a recent college graduate finding my place in the world and paying bills while following a creative passion, my entire world was shattered, literally. I was biking on a clear, sunny afternoon, feeling more alive and engaged in the world than I had in a long time. I had just arrived back in the city from three weeks in Paris where I had established a this travel blog, outlined a clear plan for how to approach my art, and how to change my life in the city in order to achieve a higher level of happiness in my day to day. One part of that plan was to mimic the Europeans and their joie de vivre lifestyle of biking and life experiencing on their commute.
So when I was hit by a 5,000lb SUV, I literally and figuratively had the wind knocked out of me. My sails deflated, I can recall the seconds that seemed like eons, rotating through the air, as I heard my mind exclaim, “Why now!?” For some, memories of trauma feel like gazing at a scene on a screen with petroleum jelly spread over it. For me, though, everything is crisp and clear, and I was aware in that very moment that my life was going to change irrevocably. I wasn’t capable of knowing how bad my injuries would be, and what life-altering physical disabilities I would suffer, until my body fell from the sky, impacting on the dark road beneath me. “This is going to hurt. Just don’t die.” I heard my mind desperately warning and pleading with itself. Add insult to injury? The man who hit me left me in the street, injured, questioning whether I would live or die.
Three days in the hospital, four pelvic fractures, a separated shoulder, two months in a wheelchair, multiple x-rays, MRIs and torn cartilage demanding hip surgery, ten months of physical therapy re-learning to walk and therapy re-learning to feel later, I was about to turn twenty-six. Where did twenty-five go? Oh, yea. I just covered that. Feeling a piece of my life had been stolen, I set a goal to travel to a new country before I had to say goodbye to my quarter-century milestone.
In my new reality, I’m trying hard to let go of fear. Rationality is one thing, but fear is a monster that consumes your life and prevents you from living fully. Even though I had lived for years within hours of the border, I had never traveled to Mexico. Growing up on the East Coast, Mexico was a distant country, with a bad reputation (putting it mildly). We saw news stories about tourists who had been arrested and subjected to human rights violations, or people who had been scalped by drug cartel members. After thorough research, listening to multiple personal anecdotes (some again deterring me from Mexico), I decided that symbolically this trip was too important for my life. I needed to escape the confines of medical appointments, bills, criminal court proceedings, and civil attorneys. Mexico was my ticket to freedom and renewal, and I was not about to let twenty-six pass without an epic welcoming. Goodbye, twenty-five!
(Written June, 2014)