Ah, true love. That magical, mystical feeling that can melt you, give you chills, cause you to lose sleep and smile at the silliest things. That moment when you know you've fallen head over heels for someone - that's what I'm talking about, right?
I'm talking about falling. Like - on the ground.
I am a self proclaimed klutz. Gravity and me? Not friends. At the end of a long week when I have been sitting in front of a computer screen for endless hours and trying to fit some healthy activity in between work and laundry, dinner, and ignoring the moss growing on my kitchen floor, sometimes I fall down. Or at the very least, tilt.
About five years ago my right hip decided to call it quits. Its alleged excuse was chemo treatments, but I know my body not-so-secretly harbors a grudge for the years of scattered, feeble attempts at physical activity, exacerbated by a massive consumption of peanut butter and chocolate (as if anyone could really overindulge on peanut butter and chocolate). I've cut back on the latter and attempted to fit more exercise into my schedule these days. I don't think it's ever too late to feel better physically. But I'm convinced this falling down thing is here with me to stay.
After two hip surgeries on the same hip, one in 2009 and the other in 2012 - the first replacement and I never quite lined up, so to speak - I can walk with the best of them... as long as "them" is tripping (literally) down the sidewalk like a four-year-old holding an ice cream cone in one hand and the leash of a mastiff in the other. The worst of it is during the six months of winter in Maine when I live in constant fear of falling.
This winter I have found staying upright particularly challenging, partially because the walk to my office from the garage where I park my car could be the training grounds for a new event at the winter olympics: Ice Skating Between Cracks on a Slant. The sidewalks in Portland are mainly brick, which adds to the ambience of this lively but quaint city. In the summer.
Since December I have taken to carrying a bag of sand to and from the office, tossing small handfuls of it in front of me and stepping timidly along in little baby steps. As I crawl along at an embarrassingly slow pace each wintry morning I am reminded of the many hours I spent watching this guy as a kid, laughing hysterically at his shuffle, never imagining he was probably walking faster than I am during this time of year.
The humiliation of falling down when I am in public is the least of my concerns. I'm no stranger to shame after years of kids, surgery, and employee reviews. It's the part where I have to get back up that terrifies me. Seriously - being witness to my personal contortion act accompanied by guttural sounds as I attempt to pull myself up from the ground has actually frightened small children and some dogs. Even in my own home I avoid anything that might cause me to be sprawled out on the floor, knowing I would have to convince my twice-replaced hip to support me while the other hip pretends to be steady just before it sends a silent message to my knees to buckle on command.
Oh yes, my knees. Ever hear the loud crackling of wood in a blazing fire? Wood's got nothing over the ear-splitting Snap, Crackle, Pop-Pop-Pop of cartilage that goes on when I so much as bend over to pick something up from the floor. Hence the reason I will usually stare plaintively at whatever fell until someone else reaches for it.
Having never been graceful, it's no surprise to anyone that I continue my clunkiness into my 50s and beyond. My family knows it, so they don't even flinch when they have to help me up from wherever I've landed - for instance, the sidewalks of Times Square - in June (no ice in that scenario, folks). Oh yeah, that was a moment.
My youngest has convinced me to start watching "Once Upon a Time" which is a very twisted version of fairy tales. As much as it's nothing like the original stories, it does provoke memories of these tales. It's kind of made me think about how the fairy godmothers who always appeared to those those poor little waifs who needed someone or something to make things better had it so wrong. The fairy dust should have been saved for women facing hot flashes, mood swings, and mandatory stops at any rest stop within a 15-mile radius.
But then there probably wouldn't have been any evil queens.
Final note: In my attempt to find just the right link to share with you, I found myself stuck in a cycle of Carol Burnett videos featuring Tim Conway and others for nearly an hour this morning. It was not time wasted.