Thrills and Broken Bones

Monday, September 7, 2020

Some of my most memorable childhood memories interestingly enough are the ones that were not recorded on my parents' camcorder. It’s those memories of playing tag in the building, stairwells running from level to level with my cousins in the evenings, and screaming. The moments when I was in the middle of running from one end of the corridor to the other to reach the opposite staircase. That adrenaline rush of being found out and knowing there was nowhere to hide unless I escaped the corridor quick enough and got lucky to make it to a different level before the person who was “it” caught up to me. At that moment,  I would normally pick going downstairs because I would jump down several steps at a time so quickly I could have potentially broken records for speed racing down several stories. That shaky rush and a thin film of perspiration that would coat my body were the only signs of the intensity I felt in that moment. Since the building was fairly new I the faint smell of fresh paint would be ever-present in my senses as I flew up and down the steps. I was the stairway gazelle. Unfortunately, I was a loud gazelle and would get caught in the hallways by some auntie who would lean out from her apartment door and sternly demand I go back home or she would call my mother. That would be enough to end the game for that evening unless I was feeling rebellious. 

    I also remember a makeshift bike path on the grounds of an abandoned school building that was walking distance from my home that I would ride my bike on because it was a dirt circuit with mounds that felt like hills. I would transform into a professional dirt bike champion and try to catch some air after furiously pedaling up one bump. It was such a thrill at the time that I eventually convinced my friends to come to join me on the circuit for some dangerous races. Luckily, no one got hurt. I felt invincible.

    Then there were those metal baseball bleachers at school on which we played the terrifying and dangerous game of bench tag. The topmost and lowest benches were safe zones, and the players had to run up and down from one safe zone to another to escape the person who was “it”. This made for quite the treacherous game, especially after a rainy day, and I am still astonished over the fact we never got banned from playing it. I eventually stopped playing after I slipped while running to the top safe zone bleacher, but my ankle twisted and I fell off. The last thing I remember from that point was the pain of hitting my head on the ground and then everything went black. 

    I eventually regained consciousness and opened my eyes to find myself surrounded by kids and the principal staring down at me with a very concerned look on his face. He asked me if I was okay and helped me up when I cried out in pain from the movement of my wrist, which was now swollen and an angry red colour. My head felt so soft and fuzzy that at that point I felt sympathy for the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. I could barely think. I went back to class thinking I was okay and also because we were amid practice standardized exams for grade three, which was a big deal. I needed to finish my exam. As I sat down at my desk, I could no longer bear the pain of my left wrist or focus on the task at hand. Luckily, my teacher noticed and sent me down to the principal's office so I could call home and be excused for the day. I groggily made my way downstairs, swaying right and left, steadying myself by tightly gripping the railing. My class was on the second floor of the building and I needed to make my way down to the ground level. 

    The way to the principal's office never felt so long for my usual sprightly self. I was also a little scared. My thoughts ran towards me, having to call and ask my parents to pick me up. I felt like I was going to be in trouble. No, I told myself; I needed to focus on getting to the secretary and making that call because I was not feeling well. I slowly approached the secretary and requested to make a phone call home because I was not feeling well. The secretary did not look pleased but allowed me to make the call. At home, my dad picked up the phone, and I relayed to him I had hurt myself and was not feeling well and asked if he could pick me up. It was a little before lunchtime around which my mother often came to drop me off lunch, but I did not think I could hold out until then. It was the era of pagers and we did not have a cellphone yet so there was no way to communicate to my mother the events that had unfolded. 

    The secretary curtly demanded that I go get my backpack and come wait downstairs for my father to pick me up. I stared at her in shock and frustration, wondering how she could not see what state I was in. However, not being in the right frame of mind, I quietly heeded and started stumbling my way back to my classroom to carry my backpack and jacket down with one arm. I was so upset because I could not understand what was happening and why I was being made to carry all my stuff with one arm. I wanted to cry. I finally made it downstairs and took a moment to glare at the secretary with tears of frustration in my eyes as I waited for my dad.

    My father walked in all nonchalant at my situation and I mentioned that I might need to go to the hospital to get my wrist checked because it was inflamed and painful to move. As we drove out of the parking lot, I caught my mom driving in to deliver lunch for me. At the hospital, we waited for several hours before they wrapped my arm in a splint and performed an x-ray. After the x-ray, we waited a while longer so they could wrap my arm in a cast. When we arrived home, my shocked mother stood at the door trying to absorb what had happened today. For her, this was a strange situation because now both her daughters were in casts with broken bones because my sister was hit by a car a couple months prior (a story for another time). 

    I was a very free-spirited child who was not afraid to take risks and someone who took playtime seriously.  Sometimes there were consequences for my antics, but since I survived the scrapes and bruises, I enjoy reminiscing back to the days when all that mattered was what fun games I would play that day.

Until Next Time,

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