I had an accident last summer. I got beaned in the head with our hammock. I know it sounds pretty strange, but really, I got hit in the head with our hammock. I didn’t run into the hammock. The hammock rose up and smacked me on my head! I still don’t know exactly how it did that!
I’ve never had a cut on my head before, but I’ve always heard that head cuts really bleed. Boy, is that an understatement! When I got the attention of my husband, he moved more quickly that I’ve ever seen him move before. I’m sure that I looked a little like Stephen King’s "Carrie."
Ray drove me to Urgent Care. The staff was pretty excited and had a little discussion about who was going to get to take care of me. I guess something besides an ear infection, cough or sore throat at Urgent Care was reason to be excited. My sweet husband was with me until he got a call from a co-worker who mentioned that 20 teachers and administrators were in a room waiting for him to start a training session on his software. I told him I was fine, that he should go, but give me his cell phone. He was going to call me when he was finished to check in with me and give me a ride home. Soon, I was finished with my ordeal – a 3-inch cut and 6 staples. But Ray wasn’t finished. He hadn’t called me yet.
Maybe I was filled with adrenalin and wasn’t capable of making a sane decision. I had a head injury after all. But I decided to walk home. Oh my goodness, what an interesting experience!
As I started walking, I felt a little like I wasn’t the same old person. I was someone interesting – someone with a secret. I had no ID, no money; I had a small bloody towel and my husband’s cell phone. One side of my head was still pretty disgusting, mostly my hair, so I looked pretty normal - until I turned my head to the right.
I could just see the headlines: "Local woman with head injury found wandering the city."
I felt like I would be scary and intimidating to people. I felt powerful in way I’ve never felt before. I felt that I’d shed the person I was. I was no longer a wife and mother; no longer a quilter or a book lover. I was someone with no past, present or future; someone who was going nowhere, and walking all the way.
When I was a kid, my mom jumped on a train without telling anyone. It was a freight train waiting for another train to pass. Without thinking too much about it, she hopped on and rode from Elk River to the Staples area, about 4 hours away, before she got off. At the time, I felt terribly embarrassed and ashamed. My mother was nuts. I was sure of it. After my experience walking home from urgent care, I realized that maybe we have more in common than I thought. For many years, I thought she did this to get away from everything (especially all of us kids), but now I realize that she may have wanted to be more in touch with herself. She may have wanted to try on a different persona; someone without a past, present or future.
Like my mother who got off the train in Staples and headed back to her old life, my experience as local woman with head injury found wandering the city ended as well. Jayne Burnikel, a nurse at Urgent Care spotted me passing by Kwik Trip: “Just what are you doing?” she said. When she offered me a ride home, I felt I couldn’t say no.
My alternate life was over. No longer was I this other person. I’d been caught. I felt a little embarrassed and silly. I felt like a wife, a mother, a book lover and a quilter who made a bad decision.
I got in Jayne’s car and went home. When I got home, I was happy to be there. The hammock was still tipped and my gardening stuff still everywhere. Nothing had changed and everything had changed.
Maybe this small experience helped me realize I like who I am. I’m a woman; a complicated women trying to juggle all my responsibilities and be the best wife, mother, book lover and quilter I can be.