Thirty-four years ago today, on Friday, May 13th, two days after my 13th birthday, I destroyed my right knee high jumping in gym class. I did manage to clear the bar. I was very good at the high jump. It was the landing that took me out. Me and the rest of my body went one way, while my kneecap decided to take a dive down and off to the side. Although I’m generally not a superstitious person, the confluence of 13s made me uneasy, so whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around, especially a Friday, May 13th, I can’t help but be a bit more conscious of avoiding black cats and ladders, handling mirrors gingerly, keeping a salt shaker tucked in my pocket, and always staying within arm’s reach of wood to knock.
Other ways I’ve dislocated body parts:
• A wretched case of retching from the flu unhinged my jaw for the first time. Age 13
• Slipping one snowy Minnesota winter morning in the school bus aisle. The bus driver refused to believe I was hurt and drove all 40 minutes to school while everyone on the bus berated him for being such a jerk. When we finally arrived at school, he was so mortified to learn that I actually was hurt that he tried to atone for his jerkiness by carrying me into the school – thereby mortifying me and ensuring I would remain dateless my entire sophomore year. Age 15
• Being rammed by a 300 pound greased pig in a barn at a Halloween party on a farm. No shit. That is totally true and kind of hilariously funny. Now. Not then. Especially since my mom thought I was at the movies, not a huge party with bands, beer, and roasting and roving pigs. Age 16
• Slipping in the mud as I slipped from my college house’s front door to the back door of my boyfriend’s house, which happened to be conveniently located right next door. Convenient, unless we were fighting, because obviously then it sucked, or even worse, when we broke up, and then it really sucked. Age 19
• A vicious and malevolent Wisconsin Bratwurst blew out my jaw. Another attack by a pig! Age 20
• Yawning (usually after a margarita). Too many times to count – but only one time required a trip to the emergency room. Ages 21-32
• Brushing my teeth in the bathroom of one of Sierra’s inpatient rooms at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Luckily, I could just roll on down to the emergency room. Hopkins adult ER is a might scary place late at night. Sitting in that waiting room highly motivated me to reduce my own jaw and get on out of there before I was even seen by triage. My jaw was way low on the priority list behind the mangled car accident survivors, people with gaping stab wounds, and the numerous gunshot victims. Age 37
The joy of hyper-mobile joints. My bendy body ever leading the spirit in an exercise of flexibility.