Thursday, November 17, 2005

Going Down

So I was falling down stairs yesterday. Again (it always happens in libraries, for some reason).

It wasn't too painful this time and certainly not caused by anything amusing. It's too bad, since I really need something of interest to share with the world, as I've been neglecting this blog of late. But on the way to the landing, I remembered something, something I'd almost forgotten. I had to pull out my photo album back at home, just to see the pictures. If they hadn't been there I think I would have doubted the occurance altogether. But there I was, me and my friend Jaren, at the top of the world, staring down upon creation and a Roman aquaduct, in the French Alps.

I had been sick for days on that trip; It hadn't really even been fun at that point, although I tried to make it so. I think I was dreadfully annoying, being so ill. But that day I was better, and I wanted good pictures of that aquaduct. So in the moist early morning air, Jaren and I climbed to the observation point, passing friends along the way.

I learned on my trip to England, pack as little as you can possibly manage. Rather than dragging five pairs of shoes with me, then, I took one. I love my Uggs. Not because they're cute, or a fad, I had them years before any of that. I love them because with them on my feet, at least one body part is warm, even when all the others have long numbed. I knew that if I brought the Uggs, I could wear them every day without being too hot or too cold, because that's just what Uggs do. They also made me feel like a Sherpa on the way up the mountain, complete with wooly hat. But Sherpas have shoes that don't slip on wet rocks and ice. And I don't.
On the way up the mountain, I was careful not to step on any of the debris left behind after Roman construction, the smooth white rock that made all my friends slip and fall all along the coastline earlier in the trip. We reached the top, marvelled at the view. I took some pictures with my digital camera. Jaren and I asked a friend to take one of the two of us together, overlooking the mountains behind us.

"Thanks," I said when he had finished. I was trying to sound smooth, suave even. I knew that anyone who had seen me earlier in the week, nauseous and hypoglycemic, would need to see how cool I could be, how, dare I say it, charming. He started down the path, Jaren behind him. "Hold on a sec," I called. I needed to put my camera around my neck. "I don't want to drop this." Knowing my luck it would have landed in the river, thousands of feet below. I put it over my head, into its case, took a step forward, grinning at the I-better-impress-him-or-else-he'll-tell-everyone-what-an-idiot-I-really-am-and-then-I'll-be-friendless-across-Europe-hot-soccer-guy. The next thing I knew I was falling rapidly toward a sharp drop-off.

A cliff, really.

Dropping into a pile of jagged rocks and a shallow body of water.

Jaren screamed.

I wonder what my obituary would have been like in French. And what would the hopeless joke of a paper at home have said? How many people from my high school would have claimed that they liked/befriended me that really had just pretended not to know me as I walked down the halls. (You know who you are.) As long as they didn't insult me, I wouldn't have minded. I'd rather think of it that way myself. January, 2005. The Peru Tribune reads:

Lately, Roann native dead in tragically ironic fall down cliff.

Roann native fails to yet again avoid the icy touch of death's hand.

Europe goes medieval on local girl, ending in death(--No--"ending in morbid injury and eventual demise."!)

Monty Python-esque moment proves the advice "Do Not Attempt" to be apt.

One of the best things about falling down stairs, as I do with some frequency, is that you know how to stop yourself from continuing to tumble. That was why I didn't die in France. I was bruised, though. And a little disoriented. I had hit my head relatively hard. However, instead of waiting to check the degree of injury as I usually do, I hopped up. I laughed.

(I think this was the point at which soccer-guy fled.)

I spent the next few days with vertigo, causing me to topple over again on the path and Jaren to grab my arm until we hit level ground. I also found myself sagging against banisters on random Rennaisance stairways and modern wheelchair ramps. That's how you know who your friends are. They don't pretend they don't know you when you act like an idiot, a fool, or a complete goon. They make sure you know where you step, even when you're laughing so hysterically that you have to go to the visitor's center, running into the pay-toilet, to ensure safety from further embarrassment.

I bought new shoes last Friday, to ensure that any further travels would have me standing on the cliff instead of reliving a Simpsons-esque gorge moment, complete with jagged rocks, poking me with their jags. Last night it dropped below freezing, and as I stepped out of the house this morning I had the opportunity to test my newfound traction in our driveway.

I bought band-aids this morning.

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