Where Have I Been?


Sitting here at Starbucks for the first time in a bit, I had a moment of realization: It’s been six days since I’ve last posted.

What the hell is up wit dat?  Can’t say fer sher, other than the fact that I haven’t really had anything to say.  Been in a quiet mood.  Not that I feel crazy-talkative now.  I just wanted to take a moment to get something out there…

I submitted a piece to Montco today about an event that took place on campus this past Monday.  Nursing students had to make posters and present their findings regarding ethical dilemmas.  Once it is published, I will of course post where you can find it.  It’s funny, I was among several soon-to-be nurses yet none really asked about my arm.  Not until a dude who was about my age asked.  A young woman in his group echoed his curiosity.  I told them I was hit by a train.  I must be slipping.  Anyway, he said he asked because he has a friend who lost an arm reaching too far into an industrial dryer at a carpet factory…  Oh, the possibilities with that one, eh?  I quickly wrote it down.  After I relayed my book idea, the group was kinda checking out my stub.  The guy who’d asked how I lost it then asks,

“Can I feel it?”

“Sure,” I replied.  He’s a medical professional.  He grabbed it in a way reminiscent of the doctors who treated me as a kid.

“Can you move it?  Do you have any sensation?  Does it ever feel hot or cold?”  All standard questions.  When he let go, I bent my elbow.  “My kids would freak out!” he admitted.

“Oh, my God, so would mine!” repeated the young woman.

“I’m available for birthday parties,” I informed them.  “For a nominal fee.”

“It’s good you have a sense of humor about it,” the guy said.

“Thanks, guys.  And thanks for answering my questions.”

I’d accepted this assignment weeks ago.  No matter what I did or where I went in the time between, I knew that on Monday, August 6, I would be on campus for the poster presentation.  That said, I did my best to make plans for fun last weekend.  Friday night, I went to the Phillies game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I also accepted an invitation to join friends in North Wildwood from Saturday to Monday for Day at the Bay, a reunion for Roman Catholic High School and its sister school, Hallahan.  As long as I made it home on Monday in time to cover the poster presentation, all would be good.  Well, I made it home with plenty of time to spare.

I’m not going to divulge details.  However, I will say that both my trip to Citizens Bank Park and my trip to the Jersey Shore were cut short.  Typically, I stay at a Phillies game until the last out of the last inning.  It’s baseball, for Christ’s sake.  Why leave early?  My plans for Wildwood were thus: see some old friends, spend some quiet time at the beach, and head up to the boardwalk and ride the fuck out of some roller coasters!  Day at the Bay is something of a drinking occasion.  I in no way frown upon this.  Though as a non-drinker, I must have alternate plans in case the boozing becomes too much.  Hence, the beach and boards would be my respite.  Early on, I took a walk to the beach, sat quietly and listened to the surf.  The boards—including the Sea Serpent—would have to wait.  I found myself driving back to Philadelphia as the calendar leapt from Saturday to Sunday.

By the time I got back to Philly, I was drained.  I had spent the past 48 hours around alcohol and those who enjoy drinking it.  To be honest, I hold no ill feelings toward anyone.  In fact, it serves as a good reminder to me why I do not, can not, drink at this point in my life.  Puking out of a moving car’s window is something I’ve done.  They say you reap threefold, so I’m owed one more projectile vomit from my car.  Though twice in two days is plenty, if ya ask me.  Besides, the Accord needed to be detailed…

When I took my car to the car wash Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting two women who work there.  The first–Larissa–a native Brazilian working her second shift at her newest job.  The other–Eileen–a mourning mother from Port Richmond.  Her son was killed recently, gunned down by a policeman’s bullet.  She told me the story, what is known of it anyway.  Details are scant.  “Why haven’t I heard of this on the news?” I asked her.  “I don’t understand either,” she replied.  Her son was just 18 and loved by so many.  She told me of a Facebook page that is set up in his memory.  She now spends much of her time reading the comments and memories left on the page.  I truly can’t fathom the depths of her grief, the pain of a mother burying her child.  I tried to connect with my own story.  The ladies asked how I lost my hand and I told them.  (Of course, I told them of all the stupid stories I tell people; the ladies laughed, a little.)  “Your poor mother,” Eileen responded.  Larissa, in her broken-English Brazilian accent, added “I wood beet your butt if I cot you playin in the traintracks.”

Being the shameless self-promoter that I am, I told the ladies that I am a writer and that I was going to blog about meeting them.  Actually, it came about like this:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer and a student.”

“What do you write about?”

“I blog about anything that happens to me during my day.”

“Really?  Are you going to write about this?’

“Yeah.  I think I’ll blog about the poor service I received at the car wash.”

“Oh, really.  I don’t care.  It’s only my second day.”

“Good, because I’m getting your ass fired.”

“Are you going to pay my bills?”

“Shit, I don’t even pay my bills.  I’m a starving artist.”

Starving?” she replied, looking at my gut.

“It’s a figure of speech.  They don’t have those in Brazil.”

OK, that wasn’t exactly how I spread the word.  But before I left, Eileen had already pulled up my blog on her smartphone and was laughing at one of my posts.

So maybe I didn’t watch 27 outs at the Phils game.  And maybe I didn’t commune with the sea, the Sea Serpent, and the smell of Curly’s Fries and funnel cake.  This weekend didn’t pan out as planned.  But maybe I was exactly where I belonged, bringing a smile and a laugh to a grieving mother.  If only for a moment.

I also found something along te way to write about.  Thank you, gentle reader, for taking the time to catch up with me.

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