Monday, July 11, 2005


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.


haywagon said...

I'm surprised that your leg couldn't stand up to the reduced force in the low gravity of Scott Carpenter park. Must have something to do with the altitude.

patty said...

Is that Karen's brother?

robin said...

That must have been just a couple weeks after I married my first ex-husband. What a summer.