Her screams cut me deeper than she meant them to, but the facts were clear: I was deficient, and this helplessness was a new layer to my trauma.
To her I’m a constant; one of two people she knows to rescue her from the hunger she can’t yet understand, and the fear of loneliness she knows only by instinct.
But in this state —without use of my arms after a vehicle crash— I could feel the vulnerability of not fully acting as the big, strong daddy my 7-month-old needs me to be; the one who can lift her the highest, and embrace her the tightest.
Or the one who comforts her when she cries.
I maneuvered my fractured left wrist to her one side, and my separated shoulder and damaged right arm to the other, as I bent into her bassinet as deeply as I could.
With every ounce of my strength and coordination, I pulled her small, emotionally-exhausted frame to my chest in a kind of desperate bear hug.
By the time my wife returned to the room my daughter had calmed.
There is a split-second for your body to prepare for the trauma before the car slams into your left side, and a leisurely ride into work on a sunny day becomes an exhausting and painful day at the hospital.
Your fight-or-flight instinct is sparked by the adrenaline pumping through your vulnerable shell: your heart pounds; your muscles tense; your awareness is heightened, just as the worst of your situation becomes the prime object of your focus.
The hood of the car is, all at once, a white blur streaking toward you, and also a crystal clear threat to your existence.
Even mentioning my plans to look at minivans earned the kind of under-the-breath-but-actually-directly-at-you reactions you might expect.
“Well, well, well, a minivan, huh?! Going to be a van dad, huh?! Deciding to give up being cool, huh?!”
Even as jokes, the point seemed to be that entertaining the minivan — no matter the circumstance — constituted some failure on my part.
Let me say one thing from the outset: I place very little value on out-dated definitions of masculinity, strength, coolness, etc.
Any apprehension I had adopting the minivan did not hinge on any arbitrary definition of what constitutes a ‘manly’ or ‘cool’ automobile or not. My personal credo is not inherently linked to any product or campaign. (Gillette or otherwise.)
My real issues with a minivan rested in my realization that I’m entering a very different phase of life, and that my definition of ‘utility vehicle’ must change.
Editor’s note: In memoir class we often reflected on literature or things, and then allowed that to grow into a writing exercise. I tried to do that here.
Stumbling along Swiss trails, in and out of dense wood and open pasture, neat and cleanly-kept vines seem out-of-place and natural, all at the same time. Plump bundles of a shadowy lavender fruit sit patiently drinking in more sunlight. The tiny treats are supported by leaf-rich vines; each leaf a hue of green, red, or dark purple depending on its phase and position to the sun. Wiry, wild vines seem harsh and drab without these bundles, but time brings forth the bloom. Days in the hot sun, brushing away horse flies and curious pests, can seem torturous and slow when one awaits yet more from the plants’ brittle bones and bundled blossom. Continue reading “Free write: Visiting the Vine”