Let me introduce you to my friend Christine.
Christine and I go back as far as our college days - which - if I'm being honest - is kinda far back.
After I graduated we didn't keep in touch that well. And actually, it's a shame there was no Facebook by the time I relocated to my second office in Manhattan, because we worked a few buildings down from one another and didn't know it for the longest time. Crazy, right?
I'm pretty sure we ran into one another once or twice - but not enough to keep a connection.
Until ... years later? Facebook!
And just like that we're connected again. Immediate happy-face. Read on for your own smile.
I am clumsy.
Like, phenomenally clumsy.
You name it and I have tripped over it, spilled it or walked into it.
I take after my older sister, who is even clumsier. My youngest sister once told me that it was a stage I would grow out of. The oldest was behind her, shaking her head like, "nope." She broke her foot just walking. Didn't trip over anything. Didn't fall. Just walking. Twice.
While my mishaps are pretty constant, I save the good ones for vacation. We're not talking about grand adventures where I have earned my injury and have a great story to tell. Oh no. No. We're talking stupid, embarrassing, and sometimes naked injuries. I refuse to travel without muscle relaxers and pain medication. For a reason.
There's the trip to the Pacific Northwest, for example. I went kayaking with orcas. I hiked down to Canyon Lake and back up. And then I fell down the stairs at my friends' house.
The trip to Disney World was my personal best. My friend Polly and I took our godchildren, aged 6 and 9, to Disney. We flew in late, drove to the hotel, and went directly to bed. We got up in the morning and showered to get ready for our first day. This, right here, before we even left the hotel room, is where it turned bad.
The floor was wet, I was putting on moisturizer, and my legs started to slide in opposite directions. Now let me drop some knowledge on you, so you don't have to find out the hard way.
A) If your legs are sliding in opposite directions and you can't grab hold of anything to stop yourself, you can, in fact, do a full split. You may think your body can't do that. You are wrong.
B) If that happens, it is bad. So very bad. You will hear things popping. You will not know what they are. Only that they hurt.
So, here I was, lying on the hotel room floor (ick), in agony, unable to get up off the floor. Naked.
I grabbed the only thing I could reach, which was a hand towel that I strategically used to cover my juicy bits. I yelled at my nephew, "Go get Aunt Polly!" Thank goodness for adjoining rooms.
She opened the bathroom door six inches before it plunked against the top of my unmoving head. After hearing my story and assessing the situation, she said to me, "I would normally call an ambulance, but you're naked. So I'm going to let you make that call."
I don't remember how I got off the floor. I've (blessedly) blocked that out, much like you do the pain of childbirth. I do remember, however, the joy of having Polly have to put on my underwear for me over the next four days, then pull them high enough so I could tug them the rest of the way without bending.
I remember my godson putting on my socks and tying my sneakers for me for the rest of the trip. And I remember seeing Disney for the next two days from a wheelchair. Somewhere, there might be photographic evidence. Or I might have destroyed it.
Which brings us to a recent vacation, camping at the beach in Rhode Island. I was at the campground for less than an hour, hadn't even unpacked yet, when I tripped over the tent flap, falling headfirst down a hill. I was almost relieved to see my road rash. I had gotten the injury over with early, it was something that would be gone in a week or so, and wasn't going to interfere with my vacation. Score!
So I decided to go paddleboarding.
My sisters got on their boards - no problem - and started practicing nearby. Nothing to it, right?
I climbed off the dock, got on the paddleboard on my knees, and promptly fell off.
Right there along the edge of the bay, where the quahog boats unload, where the little fishies hang out, among the small spots of oil slick.
But did I give up?
I couldn't get back on, so the instructor had me swim over to the stone retaining wall so I could brace myself against it to get back on. I was (almost) steady when I fell off again. This time I went hands first into the wall.
I came up insisting, "I'm okay! It's not broken!" (It was totally broken). I was ready to try again when the instructor took pity on me and suggested I trade in my paddleboard for a kayak.
For the love of all that is holy, YES!
Except now I had to get out of the water. But I couldn't climb off of the board onto the dock like everyone else, for obvious reasons. And I couldn't pull myself out of the water because of the broken finger that I was still pretending wasn't broken. So I slid my upper body onto the wall and kind of swung my legs up and rolled ...
Directly into the parking lot.
I'm pretty sure I looked like a beached whale.
My always diplomatic sister stated, "It wasn't exactly graceful."
The parking lot was made up of crushed shells, which I've now rolled my wet and dirty (remember the oil slicks?) body in. You know when you're making dinner and you dredge the chicken through the bread crumbs? Imagine that. Except I'm the chicken and the crushed shells are the breadcrumbs. The whole time I was kayaking I was trying to figure out why I was so itchy.
It was the shells.
In. My. Bathing. Suit.
So now I've got the scrapes on my legs and elbow, my right hand exhibiting a variety of colors I never knew flesh could turn. And it was so swollen that you could tell it was trying to be a hand and not quite succeeding.
But I was on vacation, damn it. And I would not give up.
There was swimming to do and beaches to visit and babies to play with.
And later in the week, when my sister and I were bobbing along in the waves, my splinted hand over my head in a permanent Miss America wave, I turned to her and said, "You know if we're ever going to get attacked by a shark it's going to be this week, right? Because you're with me, and that's just the week I'm having."
Christine is a 6th grade teacher whose students are beyond lucky to have her in their corner. She's quickly learned that walking up to and down from her 4th floor office guarantees her at least 6,000 steps every day - and then some (and she's a New Yorker, people - you know how much New Yorkers walk every day!). My guess is that when she's not working you can find her with her nose in a book or rockin' out to some old school music with a smile on her face.
Christine is someone who will make you feel special pretty much all.of.the.time. and because of that and her huge heart, I'm truly lucky to call her my friend.