Flying

My husband once went on a job interview where he had to take a long test that asked questions like, “Would you rather be a poet or an architect?” And “Which superpower would you rather have: the ability to fly or to be invisible?” Luckily he didn’t get that job because what a stupid question.

In my mind, a poet is an architect and vice versa. And I was invisible for my freshman year in high school and I don’t care to repeat the experience.

When I was a tween I used to dream of flying. Not as I imagine most people dream of flying, superhero-like or floating above the dream landscape, enjoying the scenery like my husband did when we took the helicopter ride over Kauai (a journey I remember only as clutching onto the back of his seat, and hyperventilating, followed by landing and a vain attempt to find a bar where I could get a scotch, neat).

My dreams started someplace horrible, usually with people I thought were my friends or a boy I really liked, laughing at me. I’d turn and flee, racing faster and faster with their laughter pursuing me, until I tripped and fell– only I was traveling so fast that I just kept going forward, a long fall out as opposed to down, and eventually I’d start swimming with my arms, and flying faster and faster about two feet off the ground, chased still by their echoing laughter.

So, no, I don’t think I’d choose flying either. My superpower would be The Enlightening Touch. I’d just reach out like the Sistine god, touch my fingertip to someone’s temple and they’d suddenly shake like a wet dog and say, “Yes, I’ve worked here 30 years but I’m not a quitter if I do something else” or “You know, if I haven’t ridden my seven bikes in over 5 years, I really should get rid of them and use the space for something that would make my wife happy” or “Just because someone tells you they’re the best, doesn’t mean they necessarily are, in fact, it’s probably an indication of psychopathy, and counter-indicative to presidential leadership.”

But I digress.

I have actually flown several times in my life, launched myself airborne for several feet, which is always accompanied by a brief inner monologue like the whale in The Hitchhiker’s Guide, “Wow. Oh no. Here I go again. This isn’t going to be good.”

When I was in high-school, I was running for the bus. Racing because my mother said she didn’t see any point in driving me to school when a perfectly good school bus stopped at the bottom of our steep, dirt driveway, if I’d just move a little faster in the mornings. I was all dressed up in ribbed tights, a charcoal grey A-lined skirt and – I think – a lavender faire-aisle sweater. Oh – and just to finish off the picture – those loafers with the tassles. Ridiculous. I was about half-way down the drive when I heard the bus come around the bend and I took off at a clip. I was just reaching the black-top that marked the last 25 feet before the street, when something happened and I launched into space. After a dazed moment, I picked myself up, glanced down, saw some mud on my skirt, and feebly waved the driver off. Couldn’t go to school with mud on my skirt, guess I’d have to skip the torturous bus ride and get mom to drive me after all. Oh darn.

But when I took off my skirt to put one on without mud, I found that I had torn both knees out of my stockings and ground gravel into my kneecaps. I missed first period that day, owing to spending a half hour in the bath, picking rocks out of my skin. I still have the scars today.

My poor knees usually catch the brunt of it. In January, after setting up my trade show booth, I carefully picked my way through the conference center, avoiding electrical wires, half-opened crates, furniture, forklifts, and garbage. I got about 10 feet from where I was going, glanced up, saw the person I was meeting, gave a cheery wave, stepped forward without looking, tripped over a roll of carpet and flew about 8 feet across the floor, landing on one hand and my right knee. I hopped up, brushing off their concern – it was a professional relationship. Over the next three days, I stayed on my feet, working my booth, although my knee was hugely swollen – it actually felt worse when I sat down because it stiffened up. When the swelling went down, I had bruises from half way up my calf to about four inches up my thigh.

Call it the Yoga Killer.

Just as I was recovering, I returned from a business trip mid-afternoon, and thought it would be easier to bring my roly-suitcase to a doctor’s appointment with me. The stairs were steep, with a crazy bend at the bottom. I was wearing new, stiff, clunky snow boots which were too wide with the suitcase to take the last few steps and I sank to the ground.

“Hm,” said the doctor a couple of weeks later. “Maybe that’s when you sprained your ankle. Wear a brace and stay off it.”

While I was visiting Mom, despite the brace, I flew again. Mom was napping when the repairman arrived. I shut the door to her room and handled the whole washing machine repair flawlessly. When she emerged about a half-hour later, I told her he had just left and everything was under control.

“Grab him before he drives off,” she said, “I need him to look at the refrigerator, too.”

I rushed out, through the gate, and down the flagstone walk, catching him in his van at the curb before he left. He agreed to return and I turned to the house, eager to get out of the rain. And saw that I had left the gate open.

People accuse me of not thinking when these things happen. I did think. I didn’t think about my ankle, or the rain, or the slippers I was wearing. I thought about what a pain in the neck it would be to catch the dog if she got out, dashed up the steps full speed, caught my toe and flew.

I didn’t land too hard on my knee this time, although it has a little bruise. No, this time face met flagstone. Bloody nose, bruise on the bridge of my nose from my glasses, Liv Tyler upper lip, and I have a serious investment in dental work ahead of me. I was stunned and it took me a few minutes to get up, limp into the house, mop myself up, and realize that the blurry vision was from the new tilt of my progressives, not a concussion. Oh, and the force drove the band of my new favorite ring into my finger with such force that the Urgent Care doc said I bruised a nerve in my finger, as he glued the wound shut again. When I returned home, I waited four hours to meet with a doctor who told me I’d probably need surgery – but luckily PT helped me regain full use of my finger, although it took months and I’m still trying to remember to use that finger when typing.

So, no, no flying superpower for me, thank you. I’ve had enough.

2018 has been a very bad year for yoga.

Mom and I were saying the other day that some people are born grown up – I have a cousin or two who have been grown up since they were born, so boring – and others of us will figure it out someday. Mom’s 75 and hasn’t yet. And neither have I, apparently.

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