Ten weeks ago today, I had a creative writing class in the morning. It was a Beginning Steps in Short Fiction Writing class, held at the Saint John Free Public Library, a course that I was offering through UNB-Fredericton.
We had had a great class, and in particular there was a book that Michelle shared, Inspired Creative Writing: 52 brilliant ideas from the master wordsmiths. Before I forgot the title, I decided to stop into Coles on my way back to my office to top up my Kobo gift card and purchase it. (I was due back at Coles in an hour to work my afternoon shift, but decided to stop anyway.)
I joked with my coworker and my boss as we were at the cash. I don’t remember what about, exactly, but I remember saying, “See you in a bit,” and then I sat down on a bench in the mall to download the ebook. (Thank you for the WI-FI, Starbucks!)
After the book downloaded, I started to head back to my office. I decided to take the escalator to the third floor and walk outside from there, so as to avoid the cookie I could hear calling me from the City Market (which was my usual route).
I walked to the corner of Union and Germain and noticed that the traffic was pretty busy. I stood at the crosswalk for a minute and looked. There was a car in the intersection, past the crosswalk, waiting to turn left, and behind the crosswalk was a truck. All the other traffic was at a stand-still, and the crosswalk was clear, so I started across the street.
Two-thirds of the way across, the car beyond the crosswalk began to reverse. The gap between it and the truck — where I was crossing — started shrinking at an alarming rate. I remember screaming. I remember seeing the “W” on the manhole cover just before the car made contact. I remember the car hitting me, and I remember banging into the truck, and then the ground coming up to my face.
Was I knocked out? I’m not sure. If I was, it wasn’t for very long. I saw a tire. I need to get up, I remember thinking, or they’ll think I’m dead.
They helped me up from where I’d fallen. The remaining shards of a snowbank against me. Gravel embedded in my hand. “Imokay,” I said. “ImokayImokayImokayImokay…”
There were people. A man. A woman. Another man. I watched the ground to make sure it was still steady. I was confused. I felt like I was sobbing but there were no tears. One of the men handed me my Kobo, said I needed to get off the street, and they took me to the sidewalk.
I want to sit down, I thought. I need to go to my office. There’s a chair in my office.
“I think she’s just shook up,” one man said.
I started walking towards my office. The older man told the woman to go with me to make sure I was alright. We talked as we walked. I got to my office. I start sobbing in front of my friend. I called my husband. My friend called the police. I called work and said I was going to be late. My husband called work back and said he was taking me to the hospital. I alternated between crying and laughing hysterically.
I was in shock for at least a couple of hours, and denial for a couple of weeks. I wanted desperately to be okay. I didn’t want to have to deal with insurance, or for the nice man to have trouble.
So I ignored things. A lot of things. Mixing words up. Saying things I shouldn’t. Confusion about mundane things. Clipping door frames with my hip as I walked through. Oh, it’s just the medication I’m taking for my knee. Oh, it’s just because I have a cold. Two weeks later, having run out of excuses, I finally went back to the hospital where I found out I had a concussion.
I’m still recovering.
And it’s so … so … s-l-o-w.
It’s been almost five months since that fateful night at 3 AM, when — while working as the overnight caregiver for a 91-year-old lady — I decided it was time to quit my job, rent a studio space, and try to make a creative living before it was too late.
I have learned a lot in the last five months. I have also learned that I’m on the edge of something — a completely different Self.
When I was a teenager, I was pretty much the poster child for adolescent angst, and I would often joke that I was having a mid-life crisis. Yes, even at 12! Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the real deal at 41. Or has it found me? I’m not quite sure.
I’ve always been highly sensitive, often spending so much time trying to figure out the insides that I don’t notice that there are outsides, and that’s not something that has changed a great deal as I’ve gotten older. (I hesitate to say “grown up,” because I think I’m still waiting for that part.) The only thing is that I’ve finally learned to recognize when I’m getting too “internally swirly;” I make myself go for a walk and interact with life outside my own head and heart.
I’ve learned a lot in the last five months. I’ve learned that I’m a creative type who needs at least some structure and routine, or else I try to do so many things at once that I can’t make any decisions and nothing really gets done. I’ve learned that just because I can come up with really fantastic ideas, I’m not necessarily the one with the right skill set (or comfort level) to carry them out. I’ve learned that I can get by on very little “spending money.” (I was never really one to shop for the sake of shopping anyway, unless you count books. Ohhhhhh, books!) And I’ve learned that , despite the fact that I have only had my driver’s licence for not quite six years, I feel a bit stranded now that I no longer have a (working) car of my own. (In truth, this last one is making me a little squirrely.)
The photograph was taken a few days ago, at Stevens Beach. It was very close to high tide (which is a pretty big deal here on the Bay of Fundy), and I wanted to see if it was still coming in or had begun to ebb. So I planted my toes just at the edge of where the waves seemed to reach and I waited a few minutes. Hubby and Piper explored the beach and played fetch, and I just stood there essentially playing chicken with the highest tides in the world. Shortly after I took this photo (and my feet got wet!), I decided it was time to concede defeat.
That’s what I do, you see. I have a tendency to stay put somewhere – whether it’s due to complacency, inertia, or a fear of the unknown — until I absolutely have no choice but to move. This “flying leap off a cliff” and into a creative life hasn’t been easy — not in the least. I’m still experiencing quite a number of growing pains. But the happiness I’m discovering along the way is outweighing the stress and doubts that bubble up (sometimes violently) from time to time. Ultimately, I think it’s all going to be okay.
Some days, being a civilized human being is just too much.
Some days you just have to break free and wreak havoc on someone!
This is my preferred method.