The other night at Toro I banged my head so hard that I made myself cry. Anyone who know me well knows, I have an immense threshold for pain--it's surprising, really given my girly nature. So suffice to say, if I'm crying it hurt pretty goddamn bad.
It happened while I was crawling around in the basement, stocking printer paper and decaf espresso. The "basement" is actually no more than a wretched, dusty old crawl-space that measures no more than 5 feet tall at it's tallest spots. The "ceiling" is a virtual spiderweb of exposed pipes and beams covered in many places with screw and bolts and sharp hardware. You can't move around down there without bending over and walking with your back at a 45 degree angle, which places your gaze constantly at the ground, meaning that all of these treacherous items are nearly impossible to watch out for. I've banged my head down there countless times...but never so badly as I did last Wednesday, when I whacked the crown of my head on an exposed beam that was obscured by a mountain of chef jackets.
I ran into that beam so hard that my head and neck wrenched to the left at a whiplash angle. The blow knocked me to the ground, where I fell on top of that evil pile of chef jackets, and burst into tears like a four year old. I lay there, tears streaming down my cheeks, nose running like a faucet, for 10 minutes. When I could finally collect myself enough to crawl out of the basement, I had to spend at least 15 more minutes in the bathroom trying to collect myself, because no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop crying. It was like I whacked the sobbing spot in my brain or something. I felt dizzy and kind of nauseous for the rest of the evening, and have had a dull headache on and off ever since it happened.
As I lay there, bawling and pathetic on top of the chef coats last Wednesday, I somewhat ironically couldn't help but think of how lucky I am. It sucked--I mean, it really really fucking sucked, but I knew that it would be only a matter of time before the pain and the crying passed, and I would get up, go upstairs, and wait tables like a trooper, as I have done a thousand times before, no matter how sick, hungover, or bloody the wound. It got me thinking about how infrequently I experience physical pain, how sturdy and solid my body is, and how sheltered I am from physical danger in this life. I thought instantly about my mother, whose arthritis has been slowly eating away at the cartilage in her hands and feet as long as I can remember, making every step she takes at times a painful struggle. It made me think about my good friend Alexander's sister in Holland, who nearly lost her life in a severe bike accident last fall. She was hit by a car that was driving very fast, and she wasn't wearing a helmet. She's likely going to fully recover, thank god, but I know she's been going through physical, and mental hell due to the traumatic head injuries she sustained. So while my mind may torture itself with notions that my body isn't good enough or perfect enough, with thoughts that I should eat less, be thinner, and work out more, at the end of the day, my body is a wonderful, competent machine that functions well above par and has for my entire adult life.
That same night at Toro, I overheard a table of pretty, lightly dressed girls say to the waiter they'd been flirting with all night. "Oh, we're just talking about how lucky and spoiled we are," one of the girls said, twirling a lock of expensively bleached blonde hair around her finger, "how our parents were, like, poor, and they had to, you know, work like really hard. And how we just, you know...come to Toro all the time."
I think I may have thrown up a little bit in my mouth when I heard her say that, but I couldn't help but think that these girls were okay, to be acknowledging their own luck and feeling thankful for what they've got. For the most part, I feel far more aligned with the hard-working parents than with their spoiled, vapid spawn, but the reality is, I'm just a profoundly fortunate. I spend most of my time here, in the decadent, artistic, cerebral sphere, writing a blog about hair, aspiring to be a writer, thinking constantly about art and meaning. I'm lucky, too. Very lucky.
I guess all it takes is a good thump on the noggin to remind me as much.