A Tale of Two Summers

I once stood on top of a Scottish mountain. It would be cliché to say that I felt like I could see the world, but really I felt like I could see everything of importance, everything that mattered to me in that moment. The memory is somewhat foggy now, but I remember being on top of this relatively short mountain overlooking Loch Lomond in the Highlands. And I remember taking it all in. Looking out at the water and seeing the expanse of mountains and greenery. In that moment I had one word: breathtaking, and I knew then that that’s what I wanted my life to be. A series of moments that could all be categorized under this label signifying some sort of existential fulfillment.

A year on, I’m having a very different summer than last. Like very different. This time last summer, I was touring Edinburgh Castle, my Facebook Memories reminds me. But today, I am shopping for a car. Last summer, I was worried about an eight-hour flight. This summer, I’m worried about not flipping a car off the highway again. It’s all very different. And I think, maybe I wish to go back in time. To be in Scotland again. To be standing on that mountain again. And while I would love to, I don’t wish to relive what I’ve been through now. At the same time, I don’t wish my accident hadn’t happened. Genuinely, I think it was cosmically meant to happen.

I’ve fielded a lot of questions since the accident. Understandably. And to an extent, I think some people have it wrong. My life did not flash before my eyes, I was not instantly transformed by the accident, and just because my minor injuries have healed doesn’t mean it’s over for me. What actually happened, then? When I was flipping through the air in my car, I was the most present I’ve been in a very long time. My life did not flash before my eyes because what did flash through my mind was every TV drama and movie and story I’ve heard about an accident like this. I knew that very few make it out of this. And so I was concentrating on not hitting my head on anything. That, and I kept wondering why I was screaming and what good that would actually do. Not that that stopped me.

Then, when it was over, I opened the door and stepped out. My legs were shaking, and I was shocked, but altogether I was physically healthy. I felt lucky, yes. I still feel lucky. I felt and still feel grateful. But my life hadn’t changed, by my estimation. I still found myself thinking about my plans for the night and what I was planning to watch on TV. Because that’s me. And maybe that’s a good thing because it means I was still capable of thinking about those things. As freaked out as I was and still am, I don’t feel that my life has changed. It just feels like that is now a part of the overarching story.

Now I’m left repeatedly answering a bad question: Are you okay? And I say, “Yeah, I’m okay.” Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes I am okay. But sometimes I’m not. There is this idea that because my physical scrapes and scratches are mostly healed, I must be over it by now. It’s been a little over three weeks since the accident, and I don’t know what I am. Maybe I’m okay; maybe I’m not. I can’t always tell. I want to be okay. But that takes time and distance. And also sleep, which has been elusive recently.

The thing about divine lessons is not everyone gets to learn from them. All too often, it is not a lesson but a consequence. I’m glad mine wasn’t a consequence. I learned a great lesson in what not to do as a driver, but in seeing Death’s hooded figure loom too close for comfort, I learned that I am happy with how I live my life. There is not a person I wish I had said more to. Everyone I care about knows I care about them. There wasn’t anything I wished I had said differently. I had only one regret: I wish I would’ve kissed that guy when I had the chance. And that is the only thing I would’ve done differently.

And who knows, maybe I will. Luckily, the chance is still available to me. I’m very happy for that. Thinking about it now, my life could use some more breathtaking, awe-inspiring moments, if for no reason other than to say I lived. Like, truly lived.

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Thoughts from the Doctor’s Office

10:10 a.m. 

I wanna be done. I want to not feel panicked anymore. I want to feel better. I want to work again. I want to see my friends. I want to stop itching and taking medication. I want to look like myself again.
“You look pretty miserable,” the nurse says to me, while I sit on the examination table red, blotchy and uncomfortably warm all over.

“Thanks,” I respond sarcastically. She laughs. It is a little funny, I guess, considering I was here around this time yesterday. But at this time yesterday, I only had a rash on my hands. Today, it’s all over my body. I feel like a walking sunburn that occasionally becomes itchy.
At least the fever I had yesterday at the onset of this spreading has gone away, as have the chills. Now, it’s just me, a rash and this grey-walled, Cardinals baseball-themed examination room.
“Wow,” my nurse practitioner says, both shocked and amazed at the fact that at this time yesterday she was telling me I was making a healthy recovery. Now I’m beginning to feel like Matt Smith from the Doctor Who episode “The Crimson Horror.” The difference is this isn’t Victorian London and I’m not the 11th Doctor, or any sort of doctor for that matter. In fact, it is a bleak an chilly Tuesday in suburban St. Louis.

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At any rate, I end up being prescribed steroids after my nurse practitioner consults with my regular doctor, who happens to be in London right now. (See? This relates to Doctor Who in more than one way.)

3:27 p.m.

I’m home now and I’ve taken a dose of steroids and a dose of Zyrtec. I look and feel less like “The Crimson Horror” and more like a tired Micki, which I am. On the way to the pharmacy, I treated myself to a spiced sweet cream cold brew and a slice of gingerbread loaf (which actually has candied ginger in it, as a chewy, spicy, holiday surprise!) I’ve also started the book “The Night Circus” by Erin Morganstern, which is dark and fantastical and everything I want on a cold, dark Tuesday.

So that’s me for now. I’m going to go watch that episode of Doctor Who. Have a happy Thanksgiving and great week!

Lost and Insecure-You Found Me

I feel so lost. I have been sitting here, at my desk in front of my laptop, trying to figure out what to say and the words, they just don’t come. In a big way, I feel this is a metaphor for my life at the moment, sitting in front of my laptop waiting for some sort of answer as to what I should do, but all that seems to happen is that I just stay seated here, not moving forward or backwards. Just not moving at all. And there is not a more frustrating feeling than staying completely still day in and day out. Feeling as if you’ve lost all passion. Just feeling kind of hollow, as if everything you once loved is the body of a distant life, far removed from the life you now call yours. And you say you still have passion because you remember how much you loved that life that was once yours, but you can’t seem to summon that passion now when you need it the very most. And what was once in perfect order has fallen out of alignment. Because when it rains, it pours, and everything seems to fall down, and you know it will take twice as long to figure out how it’s supposed to go back together again than it ever did to fall apart to begin with because the glass pieces have shattered in the fall.

With no real hobbies, no surefire career, or even life, goals, the remains of a shattered and lost religion, it’s hard to find a good, and unemotional, place to start. So I write, because it is the only answer I have. Writing. It is the only hobby I have, the only god I can bring myself to subscribe to. The only thing that feels as abstract as it feels concrete. The best form of expression I have, as well as my most potent weapon. The one act I will always know is my greatest strength. As lost as I may feel, writing seems to be the only thing I always feel certain about. This place is one of the few that offers consistent relief, even if it is the desire to write for a living that got me here in the first place.

My real dilemma is finding a way to step forward, a way to leave this cycle of uncertainty and the fogginess of being lost. All I really want is to feel that fire of passion within me again. But every avenue I’ve searched down left me bored, unfeeling. And the more avenues I search down to no avail, the more I feel disheartened and the harder it begins to seem that I will find what I’m looking for in any near expanse of time. Time reveals, they say, but how many years will I have wasted before the ever-present figure decides to shine its wise light upon my path. How long will I stand still here on this dark, unlighted path before the moonlight will shine down upon the path before me and a trail of stars will guide my way? Who even knows how many paths surround me, if I can’t see any of them? Standing still is a jail cell all its own. I just need some way to see one of them so I can walk down it, for now at least.

I’m sure this sounds like some sort of pity party, and I promise you it’s not. I just feel very, very uncertain of anything really regarding my life, except for my ever-present schoolwork. And I’ve just never felt so uncertain about so many things at once, and I hope I can find my way out of this phase sooner rather than later, but I cannot know. All I can hope for is that I find something meaningful and exciting to grab onto that might lead me to where I’m going.