Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tearing Me Apart Like A New Emotion

Yesterday, I was walking in a section of the park under what can only be described as aggressive construction, where oversized Tonka trucks sit largely idle and seemingly random trenches have been dug through asphalt and lawn. No plan is evident. In the months I've been walking and running in the park, questionable improvements have progressed at a glacial pace. One trench near an old boat launch is filled with fetid water and because it cuts across that whole corner of the park, for me there is no avoiding the trench or the smell. I jump over it. On the other hand, this corner of the park is almost always deserted. Yesterday, as I was avoiding a relatively new obstacle in my path, I saw a kid on a bike skid right up to the trench, the front wheel jerk straight down and the kid fly over the handlebars. This kid either landed head-first and rolled or flipped in the air - I'm not sure what I saw. Anyway, this kid wasn't dead. You will be pleased to hear I did not even lie down to laugh hard enough.

I picked up the pace, asking, "Are you okay?" and "Are you hurt?" I couldn't tell if the kid on the ground was a boy or a girl but he or she was almost my size, big-boned, wearing a helmet and with shoulder-length blond hair. I guessed he or she was between 10 and 13, and in that square body stage, back facing me. The kid was gasping for breath and moaning a little, leaning on one hip. I went around to face this kid and still couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl so I didn't touch. I jumped over the trench. I grabbed the bicycle, which was new, very shiny and bigger than me, and pulled it out of the ditch. I stood it up and pushed down the kickstand with my hand. The bicycle was spattered with foul-smelling mud. Then I turned back to the kid, still on the ground, and jumped back over the trench. There was nothing to do but issue orders. "Try sitting back," then, "Looks like nothing's broken. Can you get up?" and "Walk!" From under his t-shirt, I saw the fringe of a prayer shawl. It was a boy, and I was glad I hadn't touched him. That could have consequences for him because I am a strange woman. Literally.

He got up and walked. "Brush the dirt off your knees so you can see if you have any cuts." He was very obedient and brushed, then pointed to a small spot where the skin was a little purple. "You need some peroxide. You're going right home, yes?" He nodded, sort of. He was okay enough to go wherever he was going next without a crutch or overreaction on my part, so I turned to go. I told him to be careful - that ditch was not what it looked like from a distance. I told him to take care and started off. From a distance, he called out, "Thank you!" I called out, "Sure." He didn't owe me anything.

I thought about this after I kept walking: where he was, if he'd been injured I would've had to leave him alone to get help. I worked out a plan that would've caused me to leave the boy alone the least amount of time. It didn't matter, for three reasons: 1. I was less than an eighth of a mile from my boss Gianna's house; 2. even if no one at the soccer field had a phone, I could get help in the parking lot; 3. most emergencies are no more than I can handle. This has been true all my life.

I should think about that more.


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