I will always remember the date of my friend's father's birthday. "Get it? Seven Eleven - like the store!" That's what the dimmer of his buddies used to say when the day rolled around. Why won't I forget it? Because I was supposed to start summer school two days after that.
To back up just a bit, in the spring of 1986 I had been in college for about half a decade, and it was about time for me to move on - fiscally speaking. I went to see an academic advisor (who'd have thought that a university the size of CU would have such people on staff?). His advice to me was to stop taking so many damn writing courses and take just a couple of sciences so I could graduate with some sort of degree. Did you know that after a certain point, the credits you take in your major start counting to an additional major, and you can't graduate without finishing both? Well, I didn't. I figured that someone would eventually just call me up and tell me that I'd attended enough lectures, workshops and seminars and they'd send me a diploma in the mail. Not so - they wanted me to take an active role in that process. To that end, Mister Academic Advisor advised me to take a couple of courses over the summer and I could be on my merry matriculated way.
I signed up for the courses. I even bought the books. I just never made it to the classes. The weekend before the summer session, I decided to have one last little fling with some friends of mine. Some friends - and a swing set (strike ominous chord here).
Life is a series of choices. Everything would have been fine if I hadn't been so dramatically altered when I jumped out of the swing at Scott Carpenter park. I would have graduated on time (give or take) - and I would have avoided physical therapy to regrow my left quadriceps. I might have moved on to other greater and more grandiose things, but instead I chose to leap at the apex of my swing - hurtling into the night without a serious consideration of how and where I might land. When I came down, I came down on my left leg alone. My left leg is a sturdy enough limb for most ordinary tasks, but what I was asking it to do was beyond the laws of God and Physics. An overly simplified version of the injury I sustained would be to say that I broke my knee - five of the six parts that hold one's knee in place were obliterated in one giant leap for mankind.
I spent that summer learning how to walk again. With a brace. With a foot-long scar on the side of my left leg. When fall came, I registered for a couple more courses and walked to class every day - on crutches. I graduated in December. I make a stubborn point of going for a run on the eleventh of July. It reminds me of my strengths and my frailty. "Seven Eleven? Hey - it's like the store!" Right.