If my face weren’t broken, this post would be titled, “Not Old, Just Older,” but since everything super hurts and I feel like I very well could die, the working title stands. Bloggers are publishing annual best of compilations, their year-end paeans of gratitude, their fond goodbyes to celebrities gone too soon (seriously, 2016, knock it off!). Everyone hated 2016, but for me? 2015 was MY f-you year, not that 2016 was especially kind to us–it WASN’T–but 2015 began the after, so will always win. Maybe lose, you pick your metaphor. Digging deep here, but I’m sorely, and I do mean sorely, lacking a snappy kiss-off to end this year. I give you this:
I won’t go into it, because frankly, it’s not sufficiently interesting to detail, but I was somewhat bereft of Christmas cheer this year. I wanted to be joyous, to bleed red and green garland, I did want to be joyous, but for the first time in ever, I didn’t even send Christmas cards. I hate that I couldn’t muster the ho-ho-ho even to fake it til I make it. I didn’t even send Christmas cards? Come on, Wendy, you’re better than that. Or should be anyway. Turns out I’m not. I wanted to the whole time, like I’d wake up and be all, “Yay!! Today’s the day!” But the day never came.
I kicked ass and my gift selections across the board–like SCORE! for my friends and family–brought me tremendous pleasure. I never owned Christmas this season though. No Nutcracker, no A Christmas Carol, no Rudolph, and not even Charlie Brown. Seriously, Wendy, for shame. Not even Charlie Brown. *hangs head*
We hosted it all this year. I was unable to accept an invitation to both our neighbors’ and a friend’s gatherings on Christmas Eve, but did enjoy the loveliest of times hosting every branch of our family trees between the 24th and 25th. Surrounded by the relatives who
love tolerate me best, I prepared and presented three holiday feasts (Feasts, Wendy? Go on with your bad self). My Fitbit logged more steps on those days than it does on most, and I delighted in contentment. I like feeding people. I’m not especially gifted at dinner parties, but my effort left me feeling accomplished. Among the family, I felt peace and happiness. To me, it still felt not like Christmas-specific peace and happiness, more a general, “this is really nice.” It was.
After my final meal service, my parents skirted the kids away Christmas evening. The kids enjoy being at their grandparents’ place–different scenery, different rules–and I enjoy having some time alone or alone together with my husband. I had a hard time letting the kids go this time. Their departure left me even flatter, and disappointed in myself for not sending them off in the flurry of Christmas snowflakes they deserve. Christmas 2016 will go down in history as the, “whaaa?” Christmas. I was surrounded by festive souls, yet the only photo I have from the good old fashioned Griswold family Christmas is that of my dog trying to get in on my brother-in-law’s beer. You can’t really put that one on a card though.
I rose on the 26th full of resolve, with the intense need to wash the seasonal affective disorder out of my hair. The thermometer inched up near 50 degrees the day after Christmas, so I hatched my inspired plan to go ice skating, maybe catch a movie, and go day-after-Christmas shopping (Well, day-after-Christmas returning anyway since I’m breaking up with Target. Our split is a story for another time however; it’s still too new, the wounds too fresh. I just can’t, not yet. . .)
The skies were a seductive tint of blue Monday, so my husband and I headed to the Slice of Ice, an outdoor rink, downtown. Laces up, game on, off we went–two late-forties fools in questionable physical condition wearing our best Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner faces (too dated a reference? OK, you tell me the names of the last Olympic pairs figure skaters you recall. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here. Didn’t think so.)
So there we were, finding our legs, a few laps under our belts. Confident now, we picked up speed. Weaving in between preschoolers pushing supportive plastic penguins (so cute!), a legion of teens pushing a young man in a wheelchair (yes, I do notice these things more than most people do), and the ice-rink-selfie-set, I glided to the sounds of the ’60s blaring from the PA. Good Lovin’ by The Rascals came on, and I couldn’t help myself. I caught the holiday spirit–maybe a day late and couple dollars short, but finally! The wind whipping my pony tail behind me, I was free. Singing, dancing and shimmying in ways my body on skates was never meant to move, I cut across the center of the rink to catch up to Tom. I was just at the “All I need, all I, I really need is good love, gimme that good, good love” part when I lost all contact with the earth and consciousness.
News flash: Ice is hard.
Go ahead and giggle, it looked every bit as spectacular as you imagine. There is just enough time between the time you begin to fall and the time you hit the ground to contemplate how freaking bad it is going to hurt. There is an element of slow motion in your brain though your body is hurtling downward with rocket velocity. My cortex must’ve registered this was going to be a bad one–I didn’t even have that vanity moment, that moment where you wonder who’s going to see? Nope. I didn’t even care who could see, because the pain? The reality of how much pain I was about to feel bested my ego.
I lost consciousness for a split second. Those milliseconds between falling and having fallen, erased from my memory. Your lizard brain takes over, and you extend your arms to brace yourself, yet I managed to fall, quite literally, flat on my face. My beloved pewter Ray-Bans broke my fall (and my face) then bounced across the ice. Tom hovered over me, turning me over onto my back, and the first thing I recall thinking is that I hope he finds the lens to my glasses. Instinctively I ran my tongue over my teeth. Yep. Still all there. The base of my sternum throbbed; I felt like I’d been stabbed as I registered the wind having been knocked out of me. Holy shit, that hurts. I looked around for the standing ovation sure to be cheering when I got my feet back under me, except I couldn’t see real clearly.
It was then I realized my right cheek was abraded and that my vision was blurry, so I asked Tom to escort me from the rink. Wobbly on my blades even with him to lean on, I found my way to a nearby bench. My hair fell loose from my ponytail, so violent was the impact. I felt woozy, so shook the cobwebs from my brain á la every cartoon character whose bell gets rung–you know the sound effect. I looked at Tom, and asked if I had a mark on my face. We both then bust out laughing, me, much too loud I’m sure, envisioning the scene from the film Tommy Boy. “Do I have a mark on my face? It really hurts. Right here. Not here or here so much, but here?”
I laughed too loudly and too long, but I blame my brain injury for it. I was possessed of enough psychological awareness that I was determined to continue skating though, proving that I was harder than the ice. For my physical well-being, I believed that if I kept moving, I’d prevent the musculo-skeletal lock up sure to follow the crash (nope). So we logged a few more laps. Victory goes to the mildly concussed mother of two! Pro tip: never trust your judgment immediately following your head getting slammed on the ice. Just sayin’.
I somehow managed not to puke or even cry at the rink, and apparently appeared normal enough that a family asked if I would take their picture. A woman stopped me, saying, “You look pretty steady on your feet, would you take our picture?”
I responded with, “You should have seen me about ten minutes ago.”
Her husband, barely able to contain his smirk, “Oh, I saw you.”
Forty-eight hours later, everything hurts and I’m dying. Every point of impact and point of bracing for the impact is screaming, and purple is soooo my color! I can’t help but feel that if my elf-meter had pinged even a little jollier before Christmas, this wouldn’t have happened, like a concussion and every bone and muscle screaming at me is some sort of cautionary tale. Next year, I promise there’ll be a Christmas card, OK? Happy 2017, y’all.