I had a broken leg. As a kindergartener, I determined I was capable of climbing to the top of the fireman’s pole. Like my male class mates, once on top of the pole, I knew I could jump off. Forget shimmying back down, the boys dangled from the top bar and let go, landing on their feet. So I too dangled and let go. But I landed on my ankle, smashed it against a rock, and fell over onto the side. My mom was called to the school, as I limped off the playground. I waited, able to join the class back inside for the afternoon art project; rolling a marble, dipped in paint, around a shoe box. See, I’m fine. I don’t need any help. I was taken to Dr. Geoffrey. My parent’s dear friend. I hesitated at the idea of a cast. How was I going to continue to play? While of course it was necessary, I stood firm and refused the use of crutches. No way, I was not going to look weak. I won the crutches battle and even grew to love and accept my cast, letting my friends sign it. After six weeks I was healed. The doctor removed the cast and I ran freely through the playground again. Trying to catch up with the boys and match what they did.
I had a broken finger. He was a crush and a friend of a friend and I determined he liked me. We must have been flirting. As much as 12 year olds can flirt in shorts, sneakers and our JCC camp t-shirts. This meant we tried to touch when we could. Passing each other at swim time or on our way to pottery class. He grabbed my hand, sending tingles down my spine. He didn’t let go as I passed by chatting with my girlfriends. Laughing and pretending I didn’t notice that he paid me attention. Also not noticing that he had yet to let go and in the process bent my finger backward. I hesitated reporting it. How was I going to continue to play? So I kept my mouth shut and proceeded to my sleep over date at Dani’s house, Dr. Geoffrey’s daughter. By night the pain was too much and the swollen finger was impossible to hide, especially from an orthopedic surgeon. He wrapped and splinted it. I was taken out of activities for two weeks. Not a way to spend your summer camp days. But the finger healed and the splint came off. I was able to freely hold hands again. By that time I had a whole new crush and someone else to chase around the camp grounds.
I had a broken heart. He was a love and I was determined this was going to work. We planned and he promised. He whispered of my talents and my beauty, swearing it would be forever. Until it was not true anymore and forever came on a Saturday in June. This time Dr. Geoffrey wasn’t there to cast or splint. It is not because a surgeon cannot mend a broken heart; but because he passed away in 1996. That is a whole different broken and a terrible type of ache. This. Now this, was a broken heart that cannot be casted, splinted or repaired. Unless you count whiskey or even tequila. But those are temporary and not a fix. This is not the kind of broken that allows you to show it openly like a band aid or stitches. Unless you count un-washed hair and puffy eyes. Even those don’t excuse a broken heart. So really these pains and breaks cannot be treated by a doctor in a white coat. This is not the kind of ache that gets you out of work or special parking privileges. It does not mean you get to miss play time or sit out swim classes. Life has to go on. And it does all around you.
This time I had to accept the pain, I couldn’t refuse a cast or pretend it didn’t hurt. The pain was too much. A broken heart meant that blood stopped flowing and my body stopped functioning. With legs, I had two. With fingers, I had ten. This was my only heart and it hurt. That pain echoed in the empty of the broken space, while people danced around merrily enjoying their lives.
This kind of broken takes a cliché to fix; time. And that was the only way for this kind of broken to ever go away. The schism of heart gradually moves closer back together like a fracture unionizing. While the opposite happens; the boyfriend who created the break gradually moves farther away, the union you shared grows more distant. The schism between you grows wider. It has to happen that way. Otherwise, the heart remains broken and there is no room to mend. Kicking him and those memories out, means there is space for the heart to become whole again. Pumping and functioning properly. You move out of bed, away from the wine bottle. The tears stop, your hair gets washed and you can leave the house. You become part of that world again, it stops moving with out you. New people, new events, new ideas all take form. With time and distance the heart finally re-grows. Stronger, healthier and ready to pump out a greater stronger love. For someone new, who has something new to offer. Someone who makes it skip a beat and pump faster. It is healthy and strong now. It is a renewed heart that is primed to chase after a new boy. Ready for a time when you can keep up with their activities, with no broken legs, hold their hands with no broken fingers, and sustain the relationship with no broken hearts.
I love the heart part of this post--and how you sum it up about only having one and there being no real cure. Good post. I hope today is going better!
I like how this progressed. I especially enjoyed this, "this kind of broken takes a cliché to fix; time" and this, "kicking him and those memories out, means there is space for the heart to become whole again."
You are really, a wonderful writer.
Thanks ladies. I took a writing class recently which is where some of this work comes from.
Today is much improved. And as trite as it is - I am working for the weekend at this point.
Nice post. I really identified with the parts that suggested patience to heal was the hardest part of something being broken. I have real patience issues. :)
I understand about working for the weekend, too. I hate to say it, but that's how it is right now. Maybe not forever...
Yay for heart healing!
Should I admit that as a kid I broke my arm by slipping on a meatball?
JR:I am not very patient in general. It is tough.
CJ:A meatball???? Thats a good one!
What was the name/type of writing class you took?
Brookem: I looked for an e-mail on your site and didn't find one, so I will respond here. It was at our local state university - called (something to the effect of) creative style in memoire writing.
I really enjoyed this post.