An Inch Too Far To The Left

I wanted to lie in my hammock and look at the moon. It was shining onto the porch through the trees, so if I lie with my head at the feet end, and my feet at the head end, I would be able to watch it rise. Up until that Wednesday night, I kept the hammock tied high and tight. It took some talent to get into, but it’s a much more comfortable position once you’re in, than half-sitting with your knees hyper-extended like what happens to me in normal hammock position.

One second, I was trying to wiggle up into the hammock with my left hip. The next second something slammed my head so hard I knew it was trying to kill me. That is literally what went through my mind: an attempt on my life.

I was lying on the floor. What? The cement floor under the hammock. On my porch. It was very hard to think about things, to understand that one second I was balancing into my hammock and the next second I hit the floor head-first on the other side. Sober, in case you’re wondering. Mortally clumsy.

It seemed clear to me that I might die. The sound I heard inside my own head as it slammed the cement echoed. I put my hand to my head and a soft, hot lump like the skull of a newborn filled my palm. If it’s swelling like this on the outside, what is happening on the inside? Am I going to die?

I called for Pio who was inside watching tv. The moment before, I kissed him and said I was going to go out onto the porch to lie in the hammock for a while. At 8 PM on a Wednesday. The night before full moon when I can’t bear to be inside. Then I was lying there trying to scream for ice.

*****

Clearly, I didn’t die. I walked around in a fog for a few days, and I still have a black eye even though the hit was nowhere near my face.

I’m writing this to tell you what came to my bruised brain as it bounced around inside my skull and decided to keep doing its job of making my body live. This: Pongase las cuentas al día. Get your accounts in order. Literally. And so-to-speak. Leave a paper trail. Say what you mean. Don’t start things you have no intention of finishing. Don’t start things you shouldn’t finish. Because any day, for any stupid slip-up, you could be gone.  Before you know what happened. All you have to do is lean in an inch too far to the left.

Pio got me ice. I don’t know who was more scared–him or me. I lie on the ground with my feet propped up while he iced them to keep me awake. It helps. Keep ice in your freezer. It might keep you conscious some night, which helps. I thought about Jon and the crocodile attack. He held on for 45 minutes or more lying on the beach while he waited for an ambulance. If he didn’t let go, I wasn’t going to. Not that there is any comparison between falling out of a hammock and being attacked by a crocodile. But I thought about it. No ambulance was going to come for me.

Pio called our neighbor who showed up with his truck, they put me in, and hauled me off the the “emergency room” in Santa Cruz, a very bouncy 30 minutes away. At the “emergency room,” they asked me what day it was, how old I am, looked in my eyes, pushed on my arms and told me I was alright. This is the type of free “medical service” available in Costa Rica. I got my first wheelchair ride. They told me if I started feeling or acting strange in the next days, to come back. I left as terrified as I’d arrived. The town I live in has lost more than one person several days after a head injury.

But I feel better now. I think it’s safe to say I made it. The day I leave this world, it will be because of something else. But you know what? I like it here. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m staying right here if I can help it, in this yellow house with Pio and the cats, my dying computer, the wind, the dusty road and a couple of low-slung hammocks that hyper-extend my knees.

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2017 Plans, Starting With Coffee

I was talking on the phone to one of my sisters the other day, and she asked me perfectly normal question: “So what are your plans for the new year?”–or something like that.

For one very confusing moment, I had no idea what to say. I mean, I realize that, yes, we have turned a page on the calendar. I even made a resolution regarding how to (hopefully) be a somewhat better human being. But that’s not the same as plans.

For some reason it felt like a confession of something not very noble to say that I don’t really have any plans.  But I mean that in a good way, if you get what I’m saying.  An expression of contentment.  I have nothing to fix because nothing is broken.

Is that terrible?  I know in my heart that it isn’t, but it’s a 1st World cultural thing:  you need goals.  You need plans.  If you aren’t going somewhere–well.  How dare you?  Let me clarify:  this is NOT said sister’s attitude, nor is it the spirit in which she asked the question.  We were just chatting.  And then I got to… hablando sola.

When I sit down and make a list of what I actually plan to do this year, this is what I come up with:

–In 2017, I plan to wake up every morning.  Early.  Early enough to see the big dipper on the horizon in the south, then watch the sky fade from black to gray to blue.  Roosters, then monkeys, then parakeets.

–I plan to drink hot coffee in the mornings.  A glass of red wine in the evening.  In between, plenty of water.  I fully intend to eat far more plants than animals, and that most of the animals will be fish.

–I plan to surf as often and as well as I possibly can.  It won’t be as often or as well as my heart asks, but I plan to be ok with that.  I know my options.  For five cold years I couldn’t surf, ever.

–In 2017, I plan to feed my cats twice a day.  Religiously.   And pet them and pester them and sing them silly songs.

–I intend to go to work 5 days a week, and remember that this alone makes me lucky.

–I plan to be a good wife.

–I plan to visit my granddaughter.  She isn’t my biological granddaughter, obviously, because her mama wasn’t my baby, but I prefer to define things by what they are, not by what they are not.  She will learn to sit and crawl and probably walk.  I have no plans of being a stranger.

–I plan to look at the sky every night.  Search for certain stars or watch the moon.    On dry nights I may lie for a while on my back on the ground under the sky.  Me and the Milky Way.  Because I can.

–I have a hammock, now, and I intend to use it.

–In 2017, I plan to turn 47.  I feel fine about that.  Next year I plan to turn 48, and I’m not afraid to say it.

–I plan to pay attention to poems, to dreams, to wind direction.  If I can get those things right, the rest will follow.

These are my ambitions.  My goal is to be warm.  My plan is to be content.  On both counts, I am fully self-confident.