Monday, January 27, 2014

Oh, how funny you should say that my bag is larger than I am. In fact, I am wearing the bag in question, and my head, arms, and legs are unencumbered, but I see how you could make that mistake.

And no, I am not planning any sort of hiking excursion, mountain climbing adventure, or camping trip in this weather. It is quite a large bag, but I am just picking up parcels and transporting them to various locations. Could you sign for this one please?
No, it’s not raining. It’s 45 degrees outside and I’ve been riding through open fire hydrants all day. Or I decided to shower fully clothed before entering your office. Or I was brutally sprayed down with a hose by a manic street washer as I was locking my bike up and decided to deliver this package before filing the police report. That’s why my hair is soaked and there is a puddle collecting at my feet on your floor.

I’ve also decided to dress up as a dumpster. That’s why I have bodega bags poking out of my boots, and a garbage bag is draped over my messenger bag. It’s all the rage among us young, bohemian types. Luckily, these things have waterproofing capabilities; otherwise the aforementioned incident would have left me with wet feet and you with a wet envelope.

And they have been hosing down the roof from magical scaffolding—unseen and untethered—for the last three hours. That’s why water has been pounding on your skylight all day.

And today is the start of the office’s annual umbrella drive for underprivileged inner city youth. That’s why umbrellas in varying states of disrepair are littering the space between your desk and the door.

And thanks, I will absolutely try to stay dry out there, even though I am already soaking wet.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Brief Meeting

I am airborne. I am falling fast. But it feels slow, the second stretching on for forever as I twist and await impact, lacking the time and ability to actually react. Some uneven pavement, a split-second decision to ride over it, and a gust of wind have sent me sailing from my bicycle and I am about to meet the concrete. It is a brief meeting that resonates for a long time.

I never thought that this is where I would be, that this is who I would be. I was never an athletic girl. I almost failed high school gym class. I couldn’t do a push-up. I run into my teacher every now and again and, so many years later, he recalls that one time that I caught the ball.  It really was just that once.

But five years spent messengering, enduring the elements and the miles, have made me strong and tough and lean. I can do 100 push-ups. A day spent riding 40 miles in the snow makes me feel much bigger than my five feet and two inches.

No, I never would have thought that this is where I would be. But, here I am, a bike messenger, facedown at the bottom of the Williamsburg Bridge.

I get up. My left hand is numb and my arm is throbbing, but I get up. I try to put my backpack on. It takes ten minutes of painful maneuvering to get my left arm through the strap. I get onto my bike, but my arm won’t go straight, and each pedal stroke is more difficult. After two minutes, I admit defeat, and text my dispatcher to say that I need to go home. My elbow is bigger than my knee.

“Hospital,” my roommates say in unison. I refuse and sit with an icepack until it is nighttime. I wash a Tylenol PM down with a can of beer and go to sleep. I wake up in the morning, look at my arm, and walk to the ER.

Children are screaming and crying. A woman who must be tubercular coughs endlessly. Another woman is moaning and asking for Midol. Five hours pass.

In the X-Ray room, “Make your arm straighter,” the tech tells me over and over as I try to explain that I would not be at the hospital if I could make the thing go straight.

Half an hour later, I am in a room full of doctors. Illuminated before me is my elbow, shattered, the tip far from the rest of the arm.

With a sling, I am initiated into the world of the broken—of doctor’s visits and waiting rooms.  I can’t stop them. The tears flow down my cheeks. I sob. I weep. Now, I am the one making the scene in the ER. I can barely breathe from the weight of all of it. I am out of work for two months. I am broken. I am going to be broke.  

I am splinted and wrapped from finger to shoulder with bandages and scheduled for surgery. I don’t speak as they wrap me up and explain these things to me.  I stare helplessly at my untied shoelace.

Doctors pin and wire my arm back together. I can’t work. I can’t work out. I sleep, for a few hours at a time, uncomfortably, with my arm stuffed in a pillow. In several weeks, I am affixed with a hinged brace that makes me look like a cyborg. For a month, I am robotic.

Two months after the single second that led to my fall, the brace is removed. As suddenly as I became a broken person, I am a whole one again.  

I go back to work, pedal up and down the avenues, across the city, and between cars with ease. Even though the days are getting colder, even when it rains and my hair is soaked and my hands are pruney, I am thankful to be pedaling a bicycle, and to have an arm that moves.

It just doesn’t move like want it to. It all happened so fast, but the process of becoming strong again is slow. I measure my progress in the degrees that my arm can bend. A right angle is an achievement. Every week brings another five degrees and a new accomplishment—drinking with my left hand, putting my hair up, doing a push-up against a wall. Recovery is a series of small victories.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An honest question.

What happens to a loan deferred?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through North Brooklyn hardly anyone was around, just those serving, those cooking Hairdos were done, messily but with care, The stragglers went out in hopes someone would be there. But most had fled to their childhood beds The yammerings of their parents asking when they would get real jobs whirling in their heads. Those of us remaining ordered from Snap or woke up bleary-eyed from a hungover nap